The latest social media craze, #neknominate, has prompted a warning from police and senior public health officials.
The drinking game – which is trending on Facebook and Twitter – encourages participants to film themselves in bizarre situations downing an alcoholic drink before nominating friends to do the same.
One woman rode into a Tesco store in Bishop Auckland, County Durham last week to down a drink in a stunt filmed for YouTube.
Insp Ed Brown, of Norfolk police, said: “Rapid consumption of alcohol can have serious consequences for people of all ages especially if your body is not used to what you’re drinking. Downing a pint of spirits, to use one example, is frankly a horrific idea.
“We know excessive drinking makes people more vulnerable including more likely to become a victim of crime or be injured, or involved in violence.
“We’ve noticed the situations people film in are becoming more extreme with people taking greater risks with their safety. This is not about the police being kill-joys. We don’t want to stop people from having fun but drinking to excess in bizarre situations for the camera puts you at risk.
“We would ask people to drink responsibly, to know their limits and stick to them and avoid putting themselves in unnecessary danger.”
Police are particularly conscious that young people could be more impressionable and likely to succumb to peer pressure around this trend and are asking for parents and carers to make sure their children are aware of the risks. We will also be working with schools over the coming weeks through our Safer Schools Partnership to advise on the dangers of excessive drinking and encourage people not to be pressured into taking part.
Director of public health, Lucy Macleod, said: “Neknominate is a highly dangerous craze, which has already led to serious illness, hospitalisation, and even death, in some parts of the country.
“Drinking a large quantity of alcohol very quickly is extremely dangerous - especially when it is done in risky circumstances - and the results can be fatal. It increases your risk of heart attack, and can cause you to choke on your own vomit and suffocate, or slip into a life-threatening coma.
“It’s difficult for young people to resist peer pressure, but I would urge anyone thinking of participating in this so-called game to consider both the risk to their own health and the friends who they end up nominating – no-one wants to spend the rest of their life with someone else’s death on their conscience.”