Blame kiwis: US teens drink hand sanitizer, may be worse in Sweden

With laws prohibiting minors from legally purchasing alcoholic beverages, many teens are finding creative ways to get a buzz from products they can find right at home. In fact, since 2010, U.S. poison control centers have seen a nearly four-fold increase in calls related to minors ingesting hand sanitizer as a way to get drunk. And according to Vice, this may be an even bigger problem in Sweden.

hand-sanitizerVice reported that this disturbing trend has forced Swedish pharmacists to remove hand sanitizers from store shelves and “restrict it to behind-the-counter sales.” Apparently, police officers first asked pharmacists in the Värmland region to do so after they noticed an uptick in teens getting sick from alcohol-based products. Several emergency calls made on New Years Eve involved people under the age of 20 — the legal age to purchase alcohol in Sweden  —  who said that they had drunk “alcogels,” a police spokesman told The Local.

The trend originated in neither the U.S. nor Sweden but in New Zealand, with the help of social broadcasting channels like YouTube, CNN reported. Swedish police officials told public broadcaster Swedish Radio that there are videos of teens are mixing hand sanitizers with orange juice to essentially make knock-off screwdrivers.

It’s commonly known that alcohol can kill germs, which is why it’s present in many popular hygiene and cleaning products; beyond hand sanitizer, a product that contains 60 percent alcohol, it can be found in mouthwash and even Windex.