1-29-2020 Alcohol Vaping Friend or Foe

Toxicology Question of the Week

01/29/2020

Alcohol Vaping. Friend or Foe?

What is alcohol vaping?

Vaping alcohol or having a “Vaportini” is a method used to consume large amounts of alcohol in a short time. This may be done when one wants the effects of alcohol without the calories or tastes of hard alcohol. There are machines, such as Vapshot ®, which will aerosolize alcohol for the user. People may also vaporize alcohol at home with as little as a large bottle, cork, bike pump, chosen hard alcohol, and some good old-fashioned ingenuity. Believe it or not there are even bars where this is practiced, with delivery methods such as exposure to large alcohol vapor cloud or vaporized alcohol being served in balloons (I know right).

Methods:

Whether by machine or home-made apparatus, the hard liquor is exposed to high pressures (sometimes heat) which will release alcohol in a vapor form, which the user then inhales. Per reports the buzz can be very quick onset and often feel a little different than “just doing shots”.

Why is this important?

Vaped alcohol avoids the liver, where alcohol is metabolized. The alcohol is absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs and goes directly into the blood. The main health risks associated come from the inaccurate measures of intake (getting too drunk too fast) as well as unknown lung effects. There have also been concerns regarding increased risk for addiction with this instant gratification and “high” that users experience.

Mechanism of action:

Alcohol directly depresses CNS, including respiration. Blood ethanol concentrations drop by 15-40 mg/dL/hr depending on genetic predisposition.

Signs and symptoms:

Sedation, impaired judgement, memory loss, ataxia, slurred speech

Treatment:

Treat as any other alcohol intoxication (supportive care).

This question was prepared by: Megan Sampson D.O. Peds Emergency Medicine Fellow, La Bonheur

So while I was doing some research on this question that Dr. Sampson prepared, I found a picture of the vapshot that aerosolizes alcohol.  Right beside it was a picture of the green mist machine that aerosolizes CBD.

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I am interested in any questions you would like answered in the Question of the Week.  Please email me with any suggestion at donna.seger@vumc.org.

Donna Seger, MD

Executive Director

Tennessee Poison Center

www.tnpoisoncenter.org

Poison Help Hotline: 1-800-222-1222