'Smoking' Alcohol and the Sobering Risks of Ingestion Fads

A "Vaportini" can be used to "smoke" alcohol. (Image credit: www.vaportini.com)

Drinkers who're bored with alcohol in liquid form, or hoping to skip the calories, have found a way to "smoke" their favorite spirits.

Vaporizing alcohol in either dry ice or through a specially made device has taken the Internet by storm, even if it is not readily available at your local watering hole. Multiple videos show young people as they inhale alcohol in an effort to get drunk faster.

Broderic Allen of Dallas, 25, made headlines last week when he said "smoking" alcohol helped him lose weight by allowing him to ingest it without the empty calories. Allen, who started to inhale alcohol after seeing his friends try it, said he didn't believe he was putting his health at risk.

"It's just a label, when you say, 'Smoking alcohol,'" Allen told ABCNews.com. "I looked it up before I tried it and there have been no studies being done to determine if it's bad for the lungs."

But even without official studies, experts warn that "smoking" alcohol and similar alcohol-ingestion fads can be dangerous.

Dr. Brett Roth, medical director of the North Texas Poison Center in Dallas, said there have been a number of alcohol fads in the past decade, from "drinking" liquor through the eyeballs to alcohol enemas, or "butt chugging," that started as a joke, but led to sobering consequences.

"There's a novelty in danger that attracts people who want to do things a little differently or add a little excitement," said Roth, adding that he knew of one death by poisoning from an alcohol enema. "Young people are attracted [to these fads] in that way."

Roth concedes there is no definitive data to explain how breathing alcohol vapor is bad for your health, but he points out that the alcohol goes straight into the bloodstream through the lungs. The upshot is that alcohol travels directly to the brain instead of first passing through the stomach lining or liver, as in a drink.

"People need to realize this will knock them out very quickly," Roth said. "It's much different [than drinking alcohol.]"