GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Underage drinking has been around since the age limit for alcohol was imposed.
"Kids are not known for their judicious use of substances," says Dr. Erica Michiels, an expert in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Spectrum Health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2019, 19% of high schoolers across the country said they drank alcohol. 14% said they binge drink. But now, doctors see alcohol consumption among youth in different and dangerous ways.
"Vaportinis, alcohol soaked tampons, eye balling," lists Dr. Michiels. "Its really easy to take it too far and get much more intoxicated than you had intended to."
Many of these come from online challenges, found on sites like YouTube or TikTok, which can make them seem harmless.
And what makes these methods attractive to teens? They're easy to hide from parents.
"You could basically have a buzz all day and you wont have alcohol on your breath," say Dr. Michiels.
A vaportini is just what it sounds like. Alcohol boiled into vapor and inhaled through your mouth and nose. And all it takes is a pot and a stove.
"When you inhale it in you, you absorb it through your mucus membranes in your mouth and in your lungs," explains Dr. Michiels. "It's basically like an instant buzz."
Without actually ingesting liquid, Dr. Michiels says it's easy to accidentally take in far more alcohol than is safe.
Soaking tampons in alcohol provides a similar effect. And Dr. Michiels suggests talking with your son if you find any in his room.
"It's important to know this method works well for boys and girls," she says. "Don't just assume it's girls that are going to use that method."
But the method that can cause lasting harm is called eye balling, literally pouring alcohol into your eyes. They can absorb that alcohol for a quick buzz, but at a painful cost.
"Alcohol is really corrosive to your eyes, so you can damage your vision by doing this," explains Dr. Michiels.
And though the CDC reports underage drinking is steadily declining, Dr. Michiels says these methods can make a hospital trip necessary.
"If your child is so intoxicated they cant walk, they're vomiting, you can't wake them up, that's a dangerous situation and you're going to want to bring them to the emergency department," says Dr. Michiels.
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