Monday, 18 May 2015

Teen Trend: Vodka Gummy Bears?

I recently heard about a trend happening in our adolescent culture.  The concerning trend is called “Drunken Gummies”.  Most of us have heard of “Jell-O shots” as tasty, easy ways to consume alcohol, but now teens are soaking gummy bear candies in liquor and using this method to get drunk. The booze soaked candies are relatively odorless and the person eating them has no idea how much alcohol he/she is actually ingesting.  In less than a month, a “how to” video on YouTube had over 17,000 views on how to make these candies. Teens have been using this drinking method because the alcohol is hidden and eating gummy bears in school, with friends, or even in your car seems innocuous.  Authorities across the country are hoping parents will stay aware of this trend that is increasing in popularity.  Parents, one thing to look for if you see your child or other children eating gummy bears, is the size of the candy.  Booze-soaked gummies tend to look bloated and larger in size than the regular gummy bear due to the liquor content inside.
Similar stories are swirling about teen girls and boys soaking tampons in alcohol and inserting them into their bodies, either vaginally or rectally, with hopes that the alcohol will have quicker absorption into their bloodstreams than through drinking the liquor.  There have been documented cases of teens and young adults going to hospitals with alcohol poisoning just from utilizing this technique.   Likewise, rather than the traditional beer bong you’d experience at a college party, kids are sticking the tubing into their rectums with the hopes of getting a quicker effect from the alcohol.  This technique is called “butt chugging” and some teens are turning to this method hoping to avoid having alcohol on their breath if they were caught by their parents or the police.
Naturally, there are many concerns and consequences to these trends.  First, teens are uncertain of how much alcohol they are actually consuming using these methods.  There is no gag reflex that lets you know that you cannot handle any more alcohol in your system.  Second, using a tampon, which holds an estimated shot’s-worth of alcohol, can be absorbed directly into one’s system quickly.  If the individual becomes sick, passes out, or needs medical assistance, health care professionals may not know that they have to look in those areas which may delay treatment.  Third, vaginal or rectal irritation can result from using this technique.  Finally, teens seem to be misinformed about how this method might work for them.  While the alcohol will be absorbed directly into their bloodstream, it does not prevent them from passing a breathalyzer test.  These tests assess how much alcohol is in one’s bloodstream, not just on the breath.
So what can parents do to prevent their teen from trying out these concerning teen trends?  Start the dialogue with your teen using open-ended questions such as, “I heard about these scary teen trends happening in high schools and colleges across the country (explain the trend).  Have you heard about this?  What do you know about this trend?”  Then, take the opportunity to educate your teen about alcohol consumption and look for opportunities to correct any misinformation or misperceptions your teen may have.