Q. We are at a stand-off with our son. During his 8-day visit over the holidays, he used 3 1/2 bottles (1.5 liters each) of Listerine. We are concerned because it contains alcohol.
Our son went through detox treatment four years ago. He refuses to attend AA meetings where he lives. His other addiction is nicotine (in snuff).
He tells us he only rinses his mouth with Listerine after he finishes the snuff, but we have seen so many changes in his behavior (abusive language, attitudes, unsteady walk and speech) that we are convinced he must be ingesting the mouthwash.
Please write about repercussions from the misuse of Listerine.
A. No one could use more than 5 liters (5.5 quarts) of Listerine in eight days purely as a mouthwash. If your son followed the directions on the label to rinse with 2/3 of an ounce morning and night, one bottle should have lasted him over a month. The maker of Listerine states unequivocally, “Do not swallow.”
Listerine lists alcohol as an “inactive” ingredient (26.9 percent). It also contains eucalyptol, menthol, thymol and methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen). Methyl salicylate can be toxic if taken internally. Combined with the alcohol, it might account for the symptoms you observed.
Your son needs professional help. There are several prescription drugs to help overcome alcohol and nicotine addictions (ReVia or Campral for alcohol; Zyban or Chantix for nicotine).