Smoking Alcohol: A Dangerous New Trend

Updated: 07/10/2013 7:34 AM By: Katherine Johnson

Smoking alcohol is a re-emerging trend, especially among those who want to feel the effects of drinking without the added calories. 

Ten years ago, the AWOL, or "Alcohol Without Liquid," was banned in Minnesota as well as 21 other states for possible health and safety risks. But now new products are on the market.

YouTube videos even show people creating the vapor themselves using items you can find right in your home.

Doctors say it may be legal, but that doesn't mean safe. "The alcohol is getting into the brain much faster and having its intoxicating effects much faster when it's going through the lungs rather than the stomach," said Dr. Gavin Bart, the Director of the Division of Addiction Medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center. "And because it's getting there faster, it's having a more sudden effect."

It can lead to alcohol poisoning faster, too. There's no way for your body to gauge how much alcohol you've inhaled and the drinker can't discern if they're inhaling the entire cup or just few sips.

Doctors are still working to understand all the risks. Vomiting or passing out from drinking is your body's way of preventing an overdose. That doesn't happen with inhaling. 

Once your brain has absorbed the ethanol, there is no way to expel it from your system. Doctors also worry about the other ingredients in liquor that may be doing damage to your body when they are vaporized.