It?s Your Health: Purell vs Hennessey

by Hafsah Al-Amin
In 2007 a Maryland prisoner was admitted to a hospital emergency room presenting in severe physical and mental distress. It was soon determined that his condition was not caused by any infectious disease nor was he experiencing a serious allergic reaction of some kind, but that he was actually suffering from acute alcohol poisoning!
Since then, prison officials and medical staff all over the country have been on the alert trying to address the increasing incidents of alcohol poisoning due to ingestion of alcohol-based sanitizers. Prisoners self-medicating in order to become numb to the extreme circumstances they face is not a new concept, but are there any real health risks associated with this practice? Consider the following:
A 90 proof bottle of Congac contains 45 percent ethyl alcohol (Ethanol). Among other effects, we know that alcohol depresses the nerves within the central nervous system (CNS) that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions. Ethanol is a central nervous system depressant and has significant psychoactive effects in sub lethal doses. Death from ethyl alcohol consumption is possible when blood alcohol level reaches 0.4%. A blood level of 0.5% or more is commonly fatal.
Hand sanitizers like Purell and Germ-X, which are 62-95% percent ethyl-alcohol, are far more potent than popular conventional drinks such as beer (5%), wine (10 %) or hard liquor (40%). A single lethal dose of Ethanol for a human adult equals about 8 ounces or more. Ethanol is also used as biofuel, an alternative to gasoline. (It is afterall, combustible!)
So, ingesting a potent dose of ethanol can definitely cause serious damage to one?s health.
Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume a person will be fine by just sleeping it off.
Critical Signs for Alcohol Poisoning include mental confusion,
stupor, vomiting, slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute); irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths); hypothermia (low body temperature), hypoglycemia bluish skin color and paleness, seizures caused by low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and finally, coma. Untreated severe dehydration from vomiting can eventually cause permanent brain damage, or death.
So what? Well, one thing is for sure ? doin? time is HARD! There are not many non-drug alternatives for people suffering from anxiety or depression, and certainly if we all had our ?druthers? most of us would ?druther? put something wholesome and healing into our bodies.
If you or a friend find yourself constantly seeking relief from the madness by ingesting substances which are NOT meant for human consumption, perhaps you should to do some self reflection and/or talk to someone about alternatives to substance abuse. Make no mistake, this is substance abuse, and the outcome never works out in your favor. So what ARE safe (and legal) alternatives to this practice? Drop me a line, let me know what you think??
And remember; it?s always better to be safe, not sorry?