The allure and mystique of alcohol has mesmerized mankind for centuries. Cultures all around the world have carried on the same tradition: raise a glass and take a drink.
That is, until now. The practice of "smoking liquor" has literally exploded in the last few months. But, ABC15 is taking action to figure out if this fad is fatal.
It's a revolutionary new, legal way to consume alcohol. Instead of drinking it, you inhale it. Thanks to YouTube, anyone can learn how to do it.
But, if you're not into do-it-yourself alcohol inhaling, for $35, you can order a Vaportini. It's touted as a no-calorie, no-carb, no-hangover way to consume alcohol.
Kenneth Peurasaari says he was interested right away, so he decided to order two. "It's neat, it's different, it's something off the wall you don't see everyday," he said.
A candle heats up a single shot of liquor poured into the Vaportini globe. In just five minutes, you'll see the pumpkin pie flavored vodka start to vaporize. Pull the glass straw out of the liquid, inhale the vapors and get ready to savor the flavor.
"Yum! Pumpkin pie! That's awesome," Kenneth says as he takes his first hit off the Vaportini.
But, Nikki Marinakis, who has also tried the Vaportini explains the flavor isn't the only part of the experience of inhaling alcohol.
"You feel a sensation in your body and you actually feel what it is you're doing. I wouldn't say it's like having a cocktail. I can't say I would directly relate it to enjoying a shot of booze," she says.
And it is different. When you inhale the alcohol, it bypasses your digestive system which means 100% of the alcohol content goes straight to your blood stream and your brain.
"You feel it instantly, which is really cool. That's the coolest thing about it," says Kenneth.
"I liked it. I could feel a little bit of cloudiness, like drinking. It's instantaneous. It's not bad, I like it," says Justin, who tried the Vaportini for the first time at Kenneth's house.
"I would say that initial feeling stays with you for probably 15 seconds," Nikki explains.
The effects of the high are short-term. That's why Kenneth says there's no need to worry.
"I share an ounce of alcohol with two or three people - you do the math. It's not going to do anything to you," Kenneth says.
"This is a novel way to abuse a drug," says Dr. Stephen Traub, the Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Mayo Clinic, who says he's concerned about it.
He admits he doesn't know of any medical cases that involve inhaling alcohol. But, he worries about the high levels of alcohol sent to the brain instantly when you inhale.
"The longer you're doing it, the more likely you are to run into problems due to neurotoxicity or problems with your brain. So now, we have people who are getting really very high levels in a shorter period of time, we really don't know how that's going to work out," he explains.
But, that's not all. Dr. Traub warns the high you get from inhaling alcohol could become very addicting, "I think that as this fad catches on and as people start doing more and more of it, I suspect we will start to see our first casualties from it."
Kenneth and his friends disagree. They've tried it, enjoyed it and say it's harmless.
As long as I’m still standing, we're okay, we'll have a story to tell," Nikki says.
"I found it was nothing like everyone perceived it, even myself, to be. It was very mellow," explains Kenneth.
But, that's why Dr. Traub says he would never recommend it, "I don't know if I can tell you definitively that it's dangerous. Nobody can tell you definitively that it's safe."
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