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Butt Chugging Trend Isn’t a Trend at all

Butt chugging has been making the rounds in the news lately, causing fear and anxiety among parents, educators and healthcare professionals across the country. However, this supposed trend is based almost entirely on two reports of butt chugging; one of which is hotly disputed and may not have occurred. A trend by its very definition involves the participation of many people, which means that one verified case and one disputed case does not warrant the amount of hype and sensationalism that has caused some to think that young people all over the country are butt chugging.

The most credible incident of butt chugging occurred in Texas in 2004. In this case a chronic alcoholic named Michael Warner suffered from a throat condition that did not permit him to consume alcohol orally. His wife Tammy instead gave her husband an alcohol enema by pouring 2 bottles of sherry into his rectum. This raised his Blood Alcohol Content or BAC to 0.47; a toxic level that killed the 58 year old. (Stewart, Richard Woman Accused of Giving Husband Lethal Enema Houston Chronicle 02/02/2005 http://www.seattlepi.com/national/article/Woman-accused-of-giving-husband-lethal-sherry-1165596.php)

Tammy Warner was initially charged with negligent homicide in the case, testifying that her husband was a severe alcoholic and had been self-administering sherry enemas for some time. Eventually the charges were dropped, but by then the story had gone viral on the internet. (Seba, Erwin Charges Dismissed in Sherry Enema Case Reuters 10/04/2007 http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/10/04/us-texas-sherry-enema-idUSN0328038520071004)

However, the story that has caused most of the mistaken belief in the current supposed trend in butt chugging is based on an incident that occurred in a University of Tennessee frat house. Alexander Broughton, a 20 year old student, was dumped unconscious by his fraternity brothers at a local emergency room. The resulting investigation initially determined that Broughton had been butt chugging Franzia wine, and that other members of the fraternity were likely to have done the same. Authorities also stated that it appeared Broughton had been sexually assaulted. (Hickman, Hayes Alcohol Enema Sends Student to ER: Fraternity Chapter Suspended Knox News 12/24/2012 http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/sep/24/ut-fraternity-suspended-over-graphic-alcohol/)

But in a twist to the story, Broughton and his family have rigorously denied the allegations of butt chugging and sexual assault, although they have offered no explanation to refute evidence that police used to make the initial allegations. (Hickman, Hayes UT Student Livid at Erroneous Alcohol Enema Report Knox News 12/25/2012 http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/sep/25/dad-disputes-erroneous-information-released-by/)

Nearly all news stories currently in circulation are based on one or both of the above events. There are no other confirmed or documented reports of butt chugging available online at this time. However, this doesn’t mean that people don’t administer alcohol enemas: it simply means that it’s not a trend being reported in healthcare facilities or emergency rooms, and it’s not a trend that’s been documented by any reliable source.

In fact, the supposed butt chugging trend is similar to the alleged trend of “vodka tampons,” which generated massive media hype with almost no documented cases. Articles have been making the rounds on the internet with titles like “The 10 Stupidest Ways Teens Get High,” and similar sensationalist headlines. Butt chugging and vodka tampons invariably make such lists and articles, despite the fact that they are, in reality, based on remote and isolated incidents and are not trends by definition.

But regardless of the fact that nearly all reports about butt chugging come from just two isolated incidents in the US, awareness is still important – especially considering that with all of the media reports about butt chugging, it’s likely that some people might actually try this method of intoxication, which could lead to coma and death. If you or someone you know is considering ingesting alcohol in this manner, it’s critical that they be made aware of the following:

*Bypassing the stomach by consuming alcohol rectally does not permit any of the substance to be broken down by the body’s natural processes. This means that the effect is significantly and unpredictably more intense.

*Substances like alcohol pass directly from the rectum to the bloodstream, allowing a significantly higher concentration of alcohol to build up in the blood. Because the blood services all organs and tissues, high concentrations of alcohol can quickly build up to toxic levels in the liver, lungs, kidneys, etc.

*Rectal tissues are highly sensitive and can be easily damaged – alcohol quickly breaks down soft tissues and mucous membranes such as these.

*Because alcohol is absorbed so quickly through the rectum, it is difficult to determine how much of the substance is an “intoxicated” dose versus how much is a fatal dose. Additionally, the longer the alcohol remains in the rectum, the more it will be absorbed into the blood.

As with any method of alcohol consumption, it’s important to remember that how much a person consumes is not necessarily as important as the way they consume it and the resulting blood alcohol content. Methods of drug use or alcohol consumption that seek to bypass the body’s natural defense and breakdown mechanisms should be avoided at the potential cost of death.

Trend or not, butt chugging is a bad idea.

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands of p...