Vaping Alcohol – Is It Safe To Smoke Alcohol?
Some people may initially gawk at the idea of inhaling alcohol or be bewildered that such a thing even exists. Nonetheless, various news sources in the past decade have observed how this new trend of smoking, or vaping, alcohol has become increasingly popular. But how does it actually work?
How Do You Smoke Alcohol?
Alcohol can be converted into a vapor by either heating up the alcohol over a significant heat source or by pouring it over dry ice and using an air pump.
These vapors that result from this process may then be inhaled through a straw, or through the use of an alcohol vaporizer. An alcohol vaporizer is a machine specifically designed to allow users to inhale alcohol vapors. However, because many states in America have banned the sale or purchase of these machines, many people have turned to make their own devices through do-it-yourself methods.
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Is Smoking Alcohol Safer Than Drinking?
Although there is limited research on alcohol inhalation, experts have made it clear that there is no reason to believe that smoking alcohol is any safer than drinking it.
In fact, there are actually several ways than inhaling alcohol may actually pose additional risks to a person’s mental and physical health, leading some medical officials to actually deem it more dangerous than consuming it the traditional way.
The Dangers Of Vaping Alcohol
One major thing that has attracted people to the idea of smoking alcohol is what it can provide that traditional drinking can’t: near-instant intoxication.
Unfortunately, this appeal is also one of the most dangerous aspects of the activity.
By inhaling alcohol vapors, the alcohol bypasses the usual process of absorbing alcohol, instead of being absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This can cause an intense high almost immediately, coming about much more rapidly than if you were to drink it.
Compare the 15 to 20 minutes it may take for your body to process liquid alcohol to the near-instantaneous intoxication you get from smoking its vapors – and you might start to see why this can be harmful. Binge-drinking, and the effects of it, can occur within mere seconds before a person even realizes how much of the alcohol vapor they have inhaled.
In addition, beyond the risks involved with getting drunk faster, there are several other dangers that have been tied to this new method of ‘drinking’. These include:
- Higher risk for overdose or alcohol poisoning: By vaping alcohol, you can inhale several drinks within seconds, and this greatly heightens the risk of serious consequences such as overdose or alcohol poisoning.
- Less control: When you’re inhaling the alcohol vapors, it is much more difficult to gauge just how much of the vapor is going into your lungs. This lack of control that comes with vaping alcohol can pose serious consequences
- Lung damage: Not unlike smoking tobacco or other drugs, experts have stated that the heated vapor can cause damage to the lungs. It may also put you at risk of developing long-term breathing problems.
- Effects on the stomach: Drinking alcohol in heavy amounts can sometimes lead to vomiting, which – if painfully – can be considered a protective measure by the body to help limit how much alcohol your body absorbs. But because the vapor of heated alcohol goes directly to the brain, vomiting is not as common a consequence. This can lead to consequences such as losing consciousness or experiencing slowed breathing.
- Negative effects on the brain: The increase of alcohol absorption that occurs with vaping alcohol poses harm to the brain, with additional risk for those whose brains are still developing, such as kids and teenagers.
- Increased anxiety: Studies on alcohol inhalation with rats have shown that those who are exposed to this method of intoxication may experience an increase in anxious behaviors. The anxiety can also become worse during the withdrawal period in cases where a person has developed a dependency.
Myths of Vaping Alcohol
1. Vaping alcohol is a calorie-free way to get drunk — FALSE
The rumor that vaping alcohol is the zero-calorie way to get yourself drunk is one of the more popular myths that has circulated about smoking the often calorie-laden liquid. However, there are not yet any reports to back up this claim and experts have routinely debunked it as false.
Thus, if you’ve considered vaping alcohol to save on calories, don’t bother. It has not proven to be an effective method for calorie control.
2. You might be less likely to get addicted to alcohol if you smoke it — FALSE
Just as with drinking alcohol, you are still at risk for developing a dependency or addiction by smoking it. The potential for developing an addiction actually rises the faster that drugs like alcohol reach the brain.
Both binge-drinking and ‘binge-vaping’ therefore carry the risk of developing a dependency.
3. You don’t have to worry about alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) if you vape it — FALSE
Those who become dependent on alcohol through vaping are still subject to the symptoms of withdrawal and are at risk of developing alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). Some documented symptoms that can occur with withdrawal from alcohol inhalation include tremors, anxiety, chills, sweating, and seizures.
4. If you are under 21, you can vape alcohol without facing legal consequences because you’re technically not drinking it — FALSE
This is another myth that has been debunked because it is the consumption of alcohol that is illegal for persons under the age of 21. The detail that it has to be drunk is not specified.
More than 25 states have also already created laws targeting alcohol inhalation specifically, including bans on the buying and selling of alcohol vaporizers.
5. Smoking alcohol is at least as risky as drinking it — TRUE
This is not a myth.
Although there is limited research on the short and long-term effects of alcohol inhalation, what experts have already learned tells us that vaping alcohol is at least as risky as drinking it, if not more so.
The Bottom Line
There is no way to consume alcohol that comes without risks, and that includes by means of inhaling it. There is also no reason to believe that it is safer to vape alcohol than to drink it, particularly because one is still at risk of becoming addicted to alcohol through exposure to its vapor.
If you are interested in more information about vaping alcohol or are concerned about a loved one’s drinking habits, contact one of our specialists today.