TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — Drug counselors across the country say they are becoming more and more alarmed by a growing trend among teenagers.
They say it appears many are now turning to drinking hand sanitizers as a way to get high.
"Oh, I think it's terrible. I think it's a terrible situation when children choose to do things like that that are so detrimental to their bodies," said Ennice Simmons of Pontotoc.
"That doesn't make any sense. It looks like you could find a lot of other things to be on high like life itself or your family," said Ken Shaw of Furrs.
It sounds like a new trend but maybe not, according to one local expert.
Dody Vail is a veteran drug counselor who has seen the effects of drinking hand sanitizer first hand.
"At first, it behaved like the person had taken a hallucinogen," said Vail. "It wasn't your typical slurred speech. Not much of that. But the behaviors were suspect. And there was a very pungent odor of alcohol just sort of coming right out of his pores as well as his lungs. And he did end up in the emergency room."
What is driving this fairly new phenomenon across the country?
According to the drug experts that we talked to, it is the consumption of alcohol, which remains the number one drug of choice not only in Mississippi but across the country.
Experts say that hand sanitizers can have as much as 65 percent ethyl alcohol, the same ingredient found in beer and wine.
Sanitizer is 120 proof. By comparison, vodka is 80 proof.
Vail urges parents to keep an eye on how much kids are using.
Some doctors recommend purchasing foam hand sanitizers as opposed to the gel-based products.
They say it is harder to extract alcohol from the foam-based product.