Awol

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While attending the annual convention of the American Council on Alcohol Problems (ACAP) in September of last year, Dan Ireland, president of that organization, came up to me and asked: "Mark, when are you folks in North Carolina going to do something about those AWOL machines being marketed out of Greensboro." My response was one of complete surprise, responding: "What's an AWOL machine?" That's when Ireland educated me about one of the newest and worst forms of alcohol abuse, I believe, ever known to man.

AWOL stands for "Alcohol Without Liquid" — a device consisting of an oxygen generator and a hand-held vaporizer into which the user pours his or her favorite alcoholic beverage. The device produces a mist of alcohol inhaled through the mouth, allowing the alcohol to enter the bloodstream through the lungs and traveling straight to the brain. Many medical experts say the machines, marketed as "the ultimate party toy," produce a quick and intense high off alcohol.

Some have gone so far as to say AWOL is to drinking what smoking crack is to snorting cocaine. Teresa A. Barton, interim executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said the devices have "no purpose other than to get you drunk." [1]

AWOL, invented by British entrepreneur Dominic Simler, was introduced in the United States in 2004 by Greensboro-based Spirit Partners, Inc., who owns the sole rights to marketing the machines in America. Spirit Partners president, attorney Kevin Morse, contends the idea that AWOL gives its users an instant buzz is a myth. [2] Yet Simler, the machine's inventor, says the vapor produces an instant "high." [3]

That's confirmed in a report by DRAM (Drinking Report for Addiction Medicine) which argues that when a person uses AWOL, the alcohol vapor bypasses the consumer's stomach and liver. The liver's function is to break down harmful substances like alcohol; but with AWOL, the liver doesn't filter the alcohol absorbed through blood vessels in...
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