Updated: This article has been updated multiple times due to interest in this topic. Unfortunately drinking vanilla extract for a buzz is a trend that is causing families issues with underage drinking and intoxication.
When I first learned of this problem, my initial question was…Can you get drunk off of vanilla extract?
The answer for parents is a big YES. The days are over when we only had to worry about under age drinking from kids getting their hands on alcohol from an unlocked cabinet or from obtaining it through a friend because they are going to the pantry and getting vanilla extract drunk.
Kids Are Getting Drunk Off Vanilla Extract
Yes, you read that right, kids are drinking vanilla extract and are getting drunk.
The craziest part – it’s legal and it’s likely something you have right in your kitchen cupboard. It is one of the appeals of this readily available alcohol. Unfortunately, kids are coming up with new ways to get a “buzz” and using vanilla extract alcohol is just one way they are doing it.
Apparently, kids are going to the grocery store and heading down the baking isle to buy a small bottle of bourbon vanilla extract.
Last year there were many news stories about students sneaking into school with this undercover alcohol. The issue is that the kids are then mixing this bottle of vanilla extract into something such as coffee, drinking it, and then heading to school where they are buzzed.
Kids are drinking vanilla extract at home because it is accessible and might be easier to sneak because it isn’t in a locked alcohol closet.
How Much Alcohol is in Vanilla?
Pure vanilla extract is 70 proof and is just a little less than a bottle of vodka. The FDA standards require pure vanilla extract contain a minimum of 35% alcohol.
Getting intoxicated on vanilla is actually easier than with traditional liquor. If a label says “extract or elixir” there is usually alcohol involved.
How Much Vanilla Extract Does it Take to Get Drunk?
Because the alcohol level is about the same as most hard alcohol, a couple of shots would do the trick. Obviously tolerance to alcohol and body weight are going to be different for different teens.
One four ounce shot of vanilla extract is equal to drinking four shots of vodka.-Robert Geller, Medical Director of Georgia Poison Center
When it is made, vanilla beans are soaked in alcohol making it very powerful. When used like vanilla is supposed to be used for cooking, etc. the alcohol burns off.
Children Getting Drunk on Vanilla in Georgia
While this started at a high school in Atlanta, GA we all know how these types of things spread like wildfire especially once they make their way to social media and parents have to know.
Local News Report with Important Information for Parents
Parents have to know of this new way kids are getting buzzed. They also should know that it could mean a trip to the emergency room.
In one case in Georgia, a student at Grady High School ended up drunk and had to go to the emergency room.
Why is Vanilla Extract Dangerous?
Chris Thomas, a drug counselor with the Wayne County Mental Health Department, told The Wayne Times that drinking vanilla extract is similar to drinking a strong vanilla flavored cough medicine.
Ingestion of vanilla extract is treated similarly to alcohol intoxication and can cause alcohol poisoning. The ethanol will cause central nervous system depression, which may lead to breathing difficulties. Intoxication can cause pupil dilation, flushed skin, digestion issues, and hypothermia.-Chris Thomas, Wayne County Mental Health Department
Drinking Peppermint Extract or Lemon Extract
If you think vanilla extract is harmful, you should know that pure peppermint extract contains 89% alcohol and pure lemon extract is 83%. Both these extracts can cause intoxication.
Mouthwash, Hand Sanitizer & Cold syrup Contain Alcohol too
Mouthwash, hand sanitizer and cold syrup have all been used by kids to get buzzed one of the concerns around vanilla is that it has a higher concentration of alcohol making it quicker to get drunk.
It’s best that you talk to your teens and inform them that this is dangerous and is not worth being peer pressured into trying.
Does Drinking Vanilla Extract Cause a Hangover?
Because it has the same amount of alcohol as hard liquor like run or vodka, yes…hangovers happen.
What Can be Done to Prevent Getting Drunk on Vanilla Extract
It may also be wise to lock up the vanilla extract in your home for the time being. I am sure kids will come up with some other way to try to get buzzed but in the meantime, we can try to nip this in the bud.
Is Drinking Pure Vanilla Extract More Expensive than Alcohol?
Since vanilla is triple the price of most alcohol, it is often out of reach for most teen’s budget. But be aware it is much more accessible which is the appeal.
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Have you heard of kids getting drunk on vanilla extract in your town?