Some people really enjoy the feeling of being drunk, but hate having to do all that pesky drinking. Maybe they don’t want the calories. Maybe they don’t like the taste. Maybe they’re in a hurry, and the normal metabolic process is a waste of time. Regardless, the lengths to which some will go to get their swerve on provides a unique and truly chilling look at humanity.
It’s Sunday, you’ve made it through the long week, and it’s time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo’s weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Let’s just drink through our mouths, like normal!
This should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway: Don’t do any of these things. Seriously. They are all very, very stupid, not worth it and potentially deadly. Mmmkay?
How These Work
When you drink alcohol, roughly 10-15 per cent of it is absorbed in your stomach, and the other 85-90 per cent is absorbed in your small intestine. But here’s the thing: Those aren’t the only places you can absorb alcohol. Basically, you can aim for any mucous membrane where capillaries are nice and close to the surface. Because it bypasses your digestive system, it’s like taking a shortcut to your bloodstream. You get fucked up faster, with less alcohol.
So, why is it so dangerous? Bypassing your digestive system can be deadly. The body has a rather good mechanism for keeping you from ingesting too much alcohol — your liver filters out the worst toxins, and the whole system shorts out and makes you puke before it’s too late. If you put alcohol directly into your bloodstream, there is no way to puke that out. As a result, the body is extremely susceptible to blood-alcohol poisoning. This requires a trip to the hospital, at the very least, and you might not survive at all.
This list of insane experimental ingestion methods is presented in descending order, starting with casually stupid, on down into the outright horrifying. Let the cautionary tales begin.
Ever looked at a shot of vodka and thought, “I wish I could snort that”? If so, what the hell is wrong with you? This was a trend in the UK not so very long ago, though it’s certainly been done all over the world. The legends are all rife with tales of people passing out almost instantaneously.
Also, y’know what’s really thin and sensitive? The mucous membranes inside your nose. Punishing them with a solution that 40 per cent alcohol by volume is a bad idea, as it can quickly desiccate them. Watch the above video (if you dare). Do you want to be like those guys? If so, stop and change everything about yourself right now so that never happens.
Not so long ago, there was a European invention called Alcohol Without Liquid, or AWOL (that should be your first red flag). You pour in a shot of your liquor of choice, the machine turns it into a vapor, and you inhale it. Insufflated alcohol goes into your bloodstream much faster than drinking. Also, the amount of food you have eaten doesn’t affect its potency because, again, it bypasses your digestive system. It advertised a calorie-free drinking experience and promised no hangovers. It was all crap (calories still get in your system, regardless of how you ingest the alcohol). The AWOL was banned in most US states before it even crossed the Atlantic.
But the AWOL was just one way to inhale alcohol. Among other methods, dry ice seems to be the most common. There’s also this interesting pump-system. At least the AWOL could ensure that a shot was taken slowly, over the course of 20 minutes, and it specifically said that no one should do more than two shots in a 24-hour period. The DIY folks, with no such warning labels, can easily cross the line into alcohol poisoning.
5. Sublingual Absorption
Can you absorb booze through the mucous membranes in your mouth without swallowing? Yes. According to the blog Science 20, “there are drugs bigger than ethanol molecules that are administered sublingually.” But just because it’s chemically valid doesn’t make it an efficient method. You have to hold booze in your mouth, a little at a time, for a long time. If you were using a high-proof liquor, that would burn a lot. Definitely not worth it.
Ever drank a lot of booze? I hope you haven’t done it like this. It’s called butt-chugging, and it’s sad that it’s common enough to has a nickname. It is, essentially, an alcohol enema. It’s rather popular with the not-yet-21 US college scene because you won’t have any liquor on your breath. Or so they think. Actually, because the alcohol goes into your blood stream, the vapor comes out in your breath just the same. Sorry, kids.
The appeal, for a practice that involves lying flat on your back, knees in the air, with a funnel shoved up your butt? The mucous membranes up your poop-chute are extremely porous, allowing for rapid absorption. Yay! I got drunk so fast! Oops, I’m dead. No, really.
In 2004, this is how a gentleman in Texas accidentally killed himself. He was a big drinker, but had to stop drinking, because of a throat condition (probably due to the drinking). So he started butt-chugging. On May 21, 2004, he consumed two 1.5L bottles of sherry. That’s three litres of wine, up his arse. Said gentleman passed out with much of the booze still inside his anal cavity, and so he continued to absorb it. He died with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.47 per cent — about six times the legal US limit for intoxication. On the bright side, he won a Darwin Award.
The Huffington Post did a bit on this at the end of last year. Everyone freaked out. But the idea has been around for ages. Same concept as butt-chugging. People take a tampon, soak it in vodka, then use the applicator to inject it into their vaginas and/or rectums. Sounds like a hoot.
There are those that call bulls**t on this method, claiming that it’s tough to get a tampon to absorb enough booze while still in an applicator. (The attached news story claims it can hold a shot’s worth.) Vaginas are sensitive. Maybe putting harsh, searing alcohol in them is a bad idea? Just a guess.
Why, oh why is this actually a thing? It’s bad enough that this video exists. It’s worse that there are literally over a thousand more just like it. Eyeballing. Apply vodka bottle to eyeball, tilt head back, scream in pain. People think it’s taking a shortcut to the bloodstream, which it is, kind of, but much less alcohol can be absorbed that way than they think. Alcohol sears the capillaries and they close off rather quickly. T
he immediate rush is more likely to be derived, not from the alcohol, but from the adrenaline you get from causing yourself such intense pain. Unsurprisingly, it’s possible to cause permanent optical damage.
And so we arrive at the bottom of the list — the single most horrifying way people get drunk. People mainline alcohol. As in, they take a syringe and inject it directly into their veins. No, I’m not making this up. Jackass’s Steve-O supposedly took 5 shots of vodka in an IV (strong stomach required for watching that link). Others claim that just a little bit of alcohol is enough to send you flying. What is certain is that this is a very easy way to permanently damage your veins, cause infection, internal bleeding, and death. Don’t do it. Reminder: Don’t do the first six, either.