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What if some crazy freak shot up vodka?
April 11, 2009 2:54 AM   Subscribe

Shooting up alcohol intravenously? What?

I was sitting around with a friend and a glass of wine when this topic came up. We had both heard of people doing it, but neither of us had anything more than hearsay to report. Maybe my Google-fu was a little dulled by the wine, but I couldn't turn up anything terribly reliable. All I could dig up on PubMed had to do with controlled, professionally done, clinical trials. (mostly on rats, cats, and sheep) Erowid, my usual source for crazy, drugged-out information didn't seem to touch on it either. Are there any doctors, nurses, or crazy alcoholics out there that could tell me what effect intravenous ethanol might have on someone crazy enough to do it?

I'm just asking here. No one's life hangs in the balance.
posted by Avelwood to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Uh, I would imagine it would make you drunk.

Its use is mainly as a treatment for methanol poisoning, acting as a competitive antagonist binding sites, as well as selective sclerosis of tumors and such. I would imagine it would be incredibly sclerosing to peripheral veins if some idiot tried to inject it.
posted by gramcracker at 3:07 AM on April 11, 2009


competitive antagonist for binding sites
posted by gramcracker at 3:07 AM on April 11, 2009


Here's one: Three case studies of people injecting alcohol, published in the Oxford Journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism.
posted by Houstonian at 3:09 AM on April 11, 2009


According to the article I linked, it starts with a fixation on needles (from heroin use, etc.). The patients reported a burning sensation (who would've guessed!).

But even more strange, please note the last lines of the article. People have also snorted vodka (ouch) and soaked tampons in alcohol before insertion, to get a more-immediate drunk with less alcohol.

Pretty sad, really.
posted by Houstonian at 3:18 AM on April 11, 2009


To expand on gramcracker's answer a little, when IV ethanol is administered (it has also been used for alcohol withdrawal, although there are other options) it is given as a very dilute solution; otherwise it would wreck your vein immediately, as gramcracker mentions. To get an idea, the next time you get a paper cut, try dripping a little vodka on it: hurts, don't it? It would get you drunk very quickly-in addition to decreasing the absorption time to basically nothing, intravenous ethanol avoids first-pass metabolism and so more of it gets to the brain and the rest of the body. This means it would be very easy to overdose and even kill yourself by doing this. Having said that I would not be surprised to learn that somebody, somewhere has tried this, probably with predictably bad results. Mice and rats do it a lot, though.
posted by TedW at 3:23 AM on April 11, 2009


And after posting I see that Houstonian has answered the question; great find. Of note is the fact that transmucosal absorption of alcohol and other drugs avoids the first-pass effect I mentioned and so gets you drunker quicker; thus the snorting and tampons. This is also what happened to the man in Texas who died after getting a sherry enema a few years ago.
posted by TedW at 3:30 AM on April 11, 2009


"And there are documented cases of drinkers during prohibition injecting alcohol, with all of the attendant dangers."
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:53 AM on April 11, 2009


I believe there is a (first hand) story in The Dirt, a book by Nicky Sixx from Motley Crue, where he mainlines Jack Daniels and almost dies.
posted by Mach5 at 6:23 AM on April 11, 2009


When Def Lepard's guitarist OD'd, the rumor was that he'd been mainlining booze.

Total rumor which I have no evidence to back up, but there you go.
posted by bardic at 7:42 AM on April 11, 2009


If you're looking for a quick buzz, try alcohol inhalers. [1] [2]

It's essentially the same effect - almost instantaneous absorbtion into the blood stream. Since our buzz comes largely from the rate of change of alcohol in the blood stream, this should get you nice and buzzed really quick.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:42 AM on April 11, 2009


I hope no one's snooping in my search logs, because I just Googled "alcohol enema death". For some reason, it's a story that's hard to forget.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:17 AM on April 11, 2009


At a party once I saw someone drunk and curious put cheap vodka in a syringe and inject it into a vein in her arm. The only result was that she got drunker, but not even that dramatically drunker.
posted by Eater at 11:41 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you do it quickly enough, intravenous alcohol can sometimes work as an antidote to antifreeze poisoning (mostly in dogs and cats but also occasionally in people). Alcohol competes with the ethylene glycol for metabolism, preventing (or at least reducing) kidney damage. I don't think it's the quicker delivery so much as the fact that most pets don't willingly drink alcohol, though.

http://www.2ndchance.info/antifreeze.htm
posted by Violet Hour at 6:53 PM on April 11, 2009


...intravenous alcohol can sometimes work as an antidote to antifreeze poisoning ... Alcohol competes with the ethylene glycol for metabolism...

Absolutely; same idea as gramcracker's methanol citation above.
posted by TedW at 8:29 PM on April 11, 2009


my mother was given intravenous alcohol to stop my premature birth.

It didn't work - she got a hangover, and I came out anyway!
posted by pinky at 11:04 PM on April 11, 2009


Lots of anecdotal stuff, friends in AA, junkies all, including one buddy who shot up the family cat with morphine when he was in high school -- his mother was all mad about that one.

And that whole enema thing -- a different junky buddy, a speed freak, lubed up a syringe without a point on it, shoved it up his ass and slammed a load of speed and just that fast knew he'd done WAY too much, seems that there are huge blood vessels up your ass and all of them soaking this stuff up, he's absolutely and completely blown out of his shoes in this john, he's leaning against the wall, electrified, just about vibrating, pants on the floor, he's close to death, the seconds ticking by as they will...

I never did put a needle in my arm -- I'm just a big pantywaist that way, not that I'm afraid of needles (plus I've got veins like garden hoses) but mostly that I didn't want to have more on my back than I already had -- but there towards the end all of my friends were trashy and most all of them junky, and trying to get a spike into my arm, proselytizers all, same as a baptist wanting to share Jesus with you, spreading The Good News and all. I got clean/sober before the whole crack thing hit (it was still called freebasing and the only person doing it was Richard Pryor) but I do see the results nowadays, the devastation, and also the results from the extremely inexpensive heroin nowadays, so many junkies running the streets nowadays, and dying and all. Crack is the worst, from what I can see, it's a real real son of a bitch, eats your soul faster than acid through leather.

ANYWAYS, I've heard lots of stories from lots of people about shooting alcohol into their arm and my understanding is that it wasn't that big a deal, a very fast way to get blasted if you liked needles and much less a hangover to boot. But these are big time junkies and drunks, used to jamming about anything into their arms, and their experiences might not square with yours, it's a big YMMV I'd think.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:56 PM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


a different junky buddy, a speed freak, lubed up a syringe without a point on it, shoved it up his ass and slammed a load of speed and just that fast knew he'd done WAY too much, seems that there are huge blood vessels up your ass and all of them soaking this stuff up, he's absolutely and completely blown out of his shoes in this john, he's leaning against the wall, electrified, just about vibrating, pants on the floor, he's close to death, the seconds ticking by as they will...

Will Burroughs? Is that you?
I love you whoever you are!
posted by Avelwood at 6:38 PM on May 6, 2009


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