Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: How people get drunk WITHOUT drinking

Apr 24, 2024, 6:04 PM | Updated: 7:03 pm

Wine bottles are pictured at a state liquor store in Salt Lake City on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020....

Wine bottles are pictured at a state liquor store in Salt Lake City on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — What a mess. A tanker truck loaded with live fish from a hatchery overturned and crashed last month in Oregon.  

About 77,000 live salmon were thrown from the truck on the shoulder, but unbelievably, most of them survived. Their will to live so strong, these little salmon flipped-flopped and wiggled their way down an embankment to a stream running alongside the highway. And their now happily swimming toward the Pacific. 

This sort of thing happens now and again. In 2016 there was a similar crash, but what made that incident amazing… listen to this. The truck driver flunked a breathalyzer and was charged with drunk driving. Even his wife believed he was a closeted alcoholic. But the poor guy insists he hadn’t touched a single drop of liquor. No rum, no wine, no whiskey.   

I say he’s a “poor guy” because he’s been diagnosed with a rare condition called Auto-Brewery Syndrome. The New York Times reports when you have Auto-Brewery Syndrome,  your stomach turns carbs into ethanol. It’s very rare, but a person with ABS syndrome eats a plate of spaghetti and the fungus in his gastrointestinal tract breaks down the pasta and it turns into ethanol. Alcohol. It’s like all by itself, your stomach is making beer, or bourbon, maybe even tequila. 

And yes, even though you haven’t had a drop of booze, you get drunk. Very drunk. The Times reports one woman on the side of the road with a flat tire was breathalyzed in New York. She blew a .40 — five times the legal limit without a drop to drink. Her belly made her drunk 

Fortunately, this condition is so rare doctors worldwide believe that only a few dozen people have Auto-Brewery Syndrome. But scientists say more might be undiagnosed. There’s no cure except being incredibly careful about eating carbs. 

Jeff Caplan is the host of Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News on KSL NewsRadio. Follow him on Facebook and X. 

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Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: How people get drunk WITHOUT drinking