Kids Are Getting Drunk Off Vanilla Extract And Here’s What Parents Need to Know

Updated: This article has been updated in April 2020 due to the increase in search (over 1000%) on this topic seen this month as we are stuck at home and out of school. 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.

Drunk on vanilla extract - new teen trend facing parents

Kids Are Getting Drunk Off Vanilla Extract 

Yes, you read that right, they 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 this is just one way they are doing it.

How does it work exactly?

Apparently, kids are going to the grocery store and heading down the baking isle to buy a small bottle of bourbon vanilla extract.


Seems harmless enough, right?

Pouring vanilla extract into a tablespoon

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. 

Now kids are drinking it 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 as easy as with any other liquor.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pure vanilla extract in spoon

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?

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.

Resources for Parents from Kids Activities Blog

With everyone stuck at home during the pandemic, we have been working day and night to create and curate some amazing resources to help.


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