WICHITA, Kansas – A dangerous drinking game that has claimed the lives of five people overseas is starting to make its way to the U.S., putting substance abuse counselors on alert.
“Neknominate” involves people taking part in extreme binge drinking, sometimes combining it with other dangerous activities, and daring others on social media to meet or exceed the challenge, or face ridicule online.
“There’s pressure not to break the chain, and I think those things can be very dangerous and maybe force people to do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do for fear of being made fun of, for fear of looking a certain way,” Meredith Reuter, a substance abuse counselor at Higher Ground in downtown Wichita, said.
Some clients there have reported hearing about the game, with some saying they know people in Wichita who have taken part, but said it was too intense of a game for them.
“If I’m playing this game in Wichita, and someone is playing this game in Connecticut, and something bad happens, I may not necessarily know how to get them help,” Reuter said. “The remote nature of this game scares me a little bit.”
Neknominate has exploded overseas. It has gone viral on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, with videos of extreme drinking challenges from Australia, and five deaths linked to the game, including three in Great Britain and two in Ireland. It’s gotten so bad that lawyers there say those who “neknominate” someone could face manslaughter charges if it results in death.
Counselors like Reuter are concerned the game could spread across the U.S.
“[Adolescents] have a huge involvement in social media and online activities so combining those two things, it seems like it could be a logical step,” Reuter said.