The Drudge Report linked today to a Washington D.C. radio station's report that teens have found an alarming new way to ingest their alcohol: sweet, innocent gummy bears. The station, WTOP reports:
Leave it to teenagers to take something as wholesome as gummy bears and turn it into booze-soaked mischief. Using online tutorials, some teens are soaking the candy in vodka for several days and eating it to get a buzz. It's a big trend in California and so popular that one police department has posted a warning on its Facebook page.
Indeed several local TV and radio stations across the country have picked up the story, almost all of them citing the same local police department's Facebook page. WTOP doesn't quote, even anonymously, a teenager who soaks his gummies in alcohol, nor do they show any statistics on arrests or school discipline that would establish this trend to be widespread or even prevalent outside the one offending locality. Nevertheless, local media never gets tired of discovering a new (often cringe-inducing) tactic that a group of teenagers has discovered to help them ingest alcohol and alarming parents with reports on the "trend". Here's a run-down of some of the more horrifying teen-alcohol trends that, unsurprisingly, never took off:
- Four Loko: This one is perhaps the most prominent of recent alarming teen alcohol trend stories because it got a lot of traction with politicians and eventually led to legislative action. Four-Loko, a fruity, carbonated, and heavily caffeinated malt beverage took college campuses by storm in 2010. The mix of high alcohol content with caffeine that masked the drinker's sense of his or her own intoxication led to a lot of dangerous over-drinking. The trend got a ton of press coverage and reports often cited a single semester in which 23 students who drank Four Loko at Ramapo College in New Jersey were hospitalized. Rarely included in such reports were comparative stats on how many college students are regularly hospitalized every semester for good-old caffeine-free alcohol consumption. Our guess: more than 23. After all, college students have been abusing alcohol for a long time. Nevertheless, statistics like that one led to bans in several states, and Four Loko eventually announced it was removing the caffeine from its product, (and probably most of the oomph from its sales.)
- Vodka-soaked tampons: In 2008, The Doctors, a daytime TV show featuring a panel of M.D.s finding new ways to interest stay-at-home parents, gave coverage to another one of these "trends" occasionally brought up in local news. The assertion: that girls are soaking their tampons in vodka so that the alcohol can absorb more quickly through the thin vaginal lining. (Boys, they say, can insert it anally for similar effect.) The doctors warn, rightly, that people may get too drunk because they can't gauge how quickly they will take up the alcohol, and also that the alcohol will seriously mess up the delicate eco-system, erm, down there. Again, none of these reports address that question lurking in everyone's head: Who, exactly, is dumb enough to think this is a good idea beyond the few people who post a tutorial video on YouTube in an attempt to get hits? (A tutorial video on YouTube is perennial piece of "evidence" for the trend in these types of stories.)
- Eye-ball shots: Perhaps the most painful of these trends, even to read about, is one that arose last year. Teens, apparently, were pouring straight vodka into their eyeballs in order to hasten the absorption. USA Today pointed out more than a few YouTube video tutorials touting the tactic. Again, doctors interviewed rightly warn that this is an incredibly stupid behavior that will probably lead to blindness, but again, the articles have a lack of practitioners interviewed, and thus, an inability to answer the question on everybody's mind: How can there be a critical mass of people who would even think of undertaking such an activity in order to confirm it as a trend? Count us skeptical, but just in case there are people thinking of pouring alcohol into their eyeballs, please note, The Atlantic Wire does not condone eyeball shots, and even more emphatically, does not suggest you watch a tutorial video of one being taken.