The Dangerous Drinking Game: Neknominate

man chugging alcohol

Have you heard of neknominate? Have you been neknominated yet? You may have no idea what that word means, but there is a good chance that your kids do. If they’re in their teens or early twenties, in fact, there is a very high likelihood that they know all about neknomination, whether or not it’s something that they’ve actually done yet. What is it?

Neknomination is a new drinking game that is sweeping the internet in the form of viral online videos posted online by its participants. The word is a combination of “neck” and “nominate,” and it is relatively simple to explain. The primary participant in this game has to consume a full pint of an alcoholic beverage, beer in most cases, in a single gulp. This rapid and intense consumption of alcohol is filmed, and it is a considerable challenge in its own right. To make matters more complicated, however, the person doing the neknomination also must do something ridiculous or bizarre at the same time as drinking the beverage. At the conclusion of the event, the person then “neknominates” two or three of his or her friends, naming them as the next challengers and defying them to do something even more extreme. To meet the challenge, the two or three friends have to make their own video within 24 hours.

What do young people do in a neknomination video? The whole goal of a neknomination is to impress one’s friends and peers by doing something outrageous and over the top, and there is also an expectation that the action will also be quite stupid. It is yet another manifestation of the current “Jackass” culture that has taken over so much of our young people’s culture, where there is a sort of pride in debasing oneself and doing things that range from foolish to outright shameful. In a recent report on neknomination on ABC News, examples of the game include:

  • A young man pouring beer into a toilet, then being held upside down by the ankles while he drinks it from the toilet bowl
  • Drinking while riding a horse through a grocery store
  • Chugging shots of hot sauce mixed with absinthe

As bad as some of these may sound on their own merits, there is more at stake than simply the self-respect of the young people doing these things: their safety. So far there have been no fewer than five deaths reported that were confirmed to have been caused by neknomination, and there are concerns that more will follow as the trend continues to gain in popularity.

Neknomination: The Latest Way to Get Drunk

Why is nekonmination becoming so widespread? The ABC News piece featured a quote from one man who has a theory, author Michael Bradley: “Neknomination is the logical extension of what’s happening among our youth with drinking. Today, they’re drinking shots to get as drunk as they possibly can as quickly as they possibly can.” Indeed, neknomination is only one more example of how young people are tending to look for ways to get very drunk, very fast. Another is “vaping,” a method of alcohol consumption in which users place liquor in a vaporizing machine that releases alcoholic fumes that when breathed can cause sudden and powerful intoxication. More common is the act of mixing highly caffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull with hard liquor, a combination that allows one to get incredibly drunk without becoming too drowsy too fast, with the end result that the person can keep drinking longer than otherwise possible.

alcohol poisoning

As with all of these, unfortunately, there is a major risk that the young people, lacking experience and knowledge of their limits, are likely to overdo it and suffer alcohol poisoning. The fact that neknomination also includes the element of having to do absurd and often dangerous things only serves to increase the risks. In light of all this, it’s time for you to make sure that your children understand that heavy alcohol and games like neknomination simply aren’t worth the risk of injury or even death.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.