Journal Article

Inhaling alcohol vapour or mist: An international study of use, effects and harms


Objectives. To determine the prevalence, patterns of use and consequences of inhaling alcohol vapour or mist. Design. Cross-sectional survey recruiting an international non-probability sample of people who use alcohol and other drugs as part of the annual Global Drug Survey (GDS). Setting. Online questionnaire translated into 19 languages. Participants. 110,557 people took part in GDS2020 and 88,124 completed a question about inhaling alcohol in the last 12 months. The focus of this study is GDS2020 respondents who reported inhaling alcohol mist/vapour from a balloon in the last 12 months. Main outcomes. Last 12-month use of alcohol vapour, onset duration, intensity of effects, value for money compared with alcohol, and incidence of falls/injuries. Results. A total of 803 people reported the use of alcohol vapour in the last 12 months, with 51% of the sample coming from 3 countries: Australia, Denmark and England. Two-thirds were male, and they were more likely to be under 25. 45.7% reported that they were a bit/very drunk before they inhaled alcohol. 51.3% reported that the effects lasted for less than 5 minutes. Both the intensity of effect and perceived value for money showed a normal distribution on a 10-point scale. 12.7% of respondents reported falling/injuring themselves. Conclusion. Inhaling alcohol vapour appears to be more common among younger, higher-risk drinkers. The rapid onset of action and inability to titrate consumption to effect is a risk for acute injury. We consider that alcohol is harmful enough through oral consumption without adding to the risk of injury by offering such a potentially risky additional administration method.

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Winstock, Adam R.
Winstock, Callum J.
Davies, Emma L.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-09-02

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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