Move Over Skinnygirl Mojito, College Kids Prefer ‘The Vaportini’ Smoking Alcohol Trend

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shutterstock_139884541When I was in college, we were boring and unoriginal.  We drank beer to excess, we did keg stands and played beer pong. We gained the “Freshman 15,” or in my case the senior year 25 (extra pounds I packed on after I hit the legal drinking age). Apparently this won’t do for today’s teenagers. They want “all of the flavor and intoxication of chugging a mixed drink with none of the sugars and calories” — talk about “having it all.”

Dubbed the Vaportini by one bar in Chicago, the smoking alcohol trend means inhaling alcohol through one of two common methods.  One involves pouring liquor over dry ice and breathing in the vapors from your cup, the other entails heating the alcohol over a candle or tea light and then “drinking” the vapor through a straw.

Either method ups the ante on drunkorexia — the idea that weight conscious drinks, such as the Skinnygirl line of alcohols and ultra-lite beers, have teenagers and recent graduates, not going for the drink that will do the least damage to their wallets, but to their waistlines.

Dr. Harris Stratyner, regional clinical vice president of Caron Treatment Centers in New York, warns this trend is incredibly dangerous, beyond anything else kids have previously experimented with alcohol.  The science behind the trend is frightening.

When you inhale alcohol, it goes directly into the lungs and circumnavigates the liver,” he told the Daily News. “The liver is what metabolizes alcohol, but when you inhale it, it goes directly from the lungs to the brain.”

The lungs and mucous membranes are extremely sensitive to alcohol, Stratyner said, and inhaling alcoholic vapor may dry out the nasal passages and mouth, leaving users more vulnerable to infection.

In addition to susceptibility to infection and killing brain cells at an alarming rate, the chances of death are far greater when smoking alcohol because you disarm the body’s natural method of regulation — puking.

“One of the things that prevents alcohol poisoning is that you usually vomit,” Stratyner said. “When you circumvent the stomach and go straight to the lungs, you don’t have that ability.”

Typing “smoking alcohol” into YouTube calls up thousands videos, including sensational hooks promising the ability to “get drunk without drinking a drop of alcohol” or teasing with “how-to” whisky vapor shots.

Stratyner says the trend is escalating — its recent popularity spiking in the past 18 months — and something drastic needs to be done about it.

“This is a stupid, highly dangerous thing to do,” he said. “The fact that youngsters in particular can purchase the equipment for a relatively cheap price…this has to be made illegal.”

Drinking cheap nasty beer or boxed wine has been good enough for decades of co-eds, but these college kids want something more extreme and less caloric. I plan to tell my children about “the good ol’ days” where drinking was simpler — and hope they never touch a vaportini in their lives.

(photo: Laboko/Shutterstock)