Dangers of Drinking Listerine

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Q. You had a question from parents concerned about their son using more than three big bottles of mouthwash in a week. Shame on you for soft-pedaling the use of Listerine.

My dad dried out and then restarted on mouthwash. Alcoholics lie and deny. The son is drinking a half-bottle of 50-proof mouthwash a day and your wishy-washy response is not helping the clueless parents.

A. Thanks for your concern. The parents were convinced their son was ingesting mouthwash, since he had already gone through detox once. They wanted to know the consequences of drinking Listerine.

Original formula Listerine contains 26.9 percent alcohol. Clearly, anyone using 5 liters of Listerine in eight days needs professional help.


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I lived in several 'dry' villages in Alaska where alcohol was not allowed, however mouthwash after-shave, and vanilla extract were being abused by alcoholics and had to be removed from the store shelves.

My husband commited suicide by drinking listerine (he was an alcoholic) and taking all his presciption medication, including oxycontin. The autopsy after his death removed a large quantity of listerine from his stomach. He had been comsuming listerine for some time, having lost his driver's license and having no way of getting to a liqour store.

I remember the first time I realized the listerine was a problem was after he came out of rehab and insisted mouthwash without alcohol was not working. This is something that is hard to accept, that someone would drink mouthwash for the alcohol content, but I think it must not be uncommon.


My husband died Feb. 8, 2008 from drinking store brand Listerine. He had been on a drinking binge for about 4 weeks. He walked off a loading dock in Charlotte, NC, where he had went in December to go to rehab. We're not sure yet if the fall or the mouthwash killed him. All I know is that my heart is breaking. I tried so many times to save him, but I could't. Drinking mouthwash is dangerous and deadly. I advise anyone with this problem to PLEASE get help.

I wish I could understand, but there is no understanding. I've been living through it with my husband for 22 years. It's so hard to believe, now I find he's drinking mouthwash, and he is verbally mean and doesn't remember a thing the next day. He's not the only one trapped in his illness, sometimes I feel so lost and hate feeling sorry for him and me. He won't get help, there's nothing wrong with him, I'm crazy and I think I must be.

I have a brother who I think is also drinking listerine. he is also an alcoholic.He's been on a binge now for 3 weeks, I just came upon this artical and could not believe that I have been smelling listerine but didn't think about someone drinking it.

I have come across your comments this evening as I research what may have killed my 59 year old mom last week. She was put in the hospital with perotinitis (SP??). The hospital waited two days before draining the fluid from her stomach.

One the next day when I went to visit her, they told me that she had been moved to another hospital for an MRI on her liver. But they mentioned that the night nurse had found her drinking a bottle of yellow Listerine mouthwash. That day, she was so sick and short of breath she could not even lay down for the MRI. She was put in ICU and intubated. They kept telling me that they could not explain how her condition had worsened so acutely from one day to the next.

That night, we went to her home and found over 30 bottles of Listerine!!!!! In the next 24 hours she suffered liver failure, kidney failure, lung failure and ultimately heart failure. She had been suffering from "peripheral neuropathy" for a few years, and was house bound.

I now suspect she was actually suffering from "alcoholic neuropathy" and it went misdiagnosed because she kept her own secret. Her husband told me that he doesn't think she was drinking it - she just liked to keep her mouth clean. I would love to believe that but I need to face the truth.

Now I am left with so many questions. I am so confused and heartbroken. She had been an alcoholic twenty years ago, but had quit as far as we knew. Never in a million years would I think this. Now it all makes sense since my sister used to live with Mom a few years ago. At night Mom would become verbally abusive and never remember the next day. We could never figure it out. SHE WAS DRUNK ON LISTERINE!!!! It is shocking to me that homeless people do this, let alone my Mom. My heart is broken.

My ex husband was only 39 years old. He died because of drinking mouthwash. Having been an alchoholic for many years he lost his driving priveledges and was pretty much homeless and on foot. Rehab never worked. He made the worst of choices and that is why me and my son got away from him when my son was 3.

Now my 14 yr old son will never get to show his dead father what a tall, handsome, smart and gifted young man he turned out to be. We are both relieved that his father is no longer in the painful miserable life he was in and we hope he now is in a better place and closer to us than ever before.

Girlfriend and mother of four is drinking mouthwash whenever she can not get her hands on alcohol. She gets really abusive to me and everyone else, then has no memory of the event. She has failed outpatient and inpatient services. Our kids 9-4 knows she has a problem, but love her anyway. I hate the thought of going to court risk losing my kids, or going to court and gaining full custody of my kids and then felling like I can not raise them by myself. What should I do???


I'm a 40+ year-old recovering alcoholic who has not had an alcoholic drink in more than four years. And, bizarrely enough (though obviously not bizarre in this particular grouping of posts), that last drink of mine was a mouthwash store brand resembling Scope (sweet minty finish -- Listerine sounds more like a whiskey drinker's choice).

For what it's worth, this last-ditch effort to resort to some form of alcohol that wasn't a "real drink" helped to convince me that I was a hopeless alcoholic. Though I had tried many times to convince myself that I could control my drinking-- sometimes going months without a drink--it was that last gulp of generic Scope that finally made something click firmly in my thick skull that I should at all costs avoid drinking anything with alcohol for the rest of my days.

My life is now lovely--and I have Scope to thank, at least in a tiny part. It's pretty darned clear that only an alcoholic would drink mouthwash by the gulp, and if you know somebody who's doing it, you might want to very gently steer them to the nearest AA meeting, where they will meet others like them who, in their darkest hours, have drunk mouthwash by the gulpful.


I'm a 39 year old alcoholic. I hate to admit it, but I drink mouthwash from time to time. It has the same burning/warm effect when it hits my stomach as a "first drink". I have a wonderful wife and 3 great children, so I've quit drinking, got professional help and started a healthy life. Alcohol is cruel cruel cruel. I hate it soo much because I love it when I drink. One drink of anything is too much and 100 drinks is not enough.

Hi my sister is 42 years old. She is a mother of 3. She has had a substance abuse problem for about 15 years. She has lost her husband her job because of this. Within the last 2 years she has been drinking large amounts of mouthwash. We the family have been paying her rent and utilities. She has been in and out of the Hospital several times near dead. I don't know what to do. Should we stop helping? It only seams to make it worse. She is getting help from counselors but she does not always go. I'm afraid she is going to die.

My husband is 68 years old, works everyday and has been in and out of detox centers 4 times in our 37 years of marriage. We have 4 wonderful children and 5 grandchildren who he is completely devoted to. I love him very much but I am very upset when I found out he got drunk on mouth wash. We had alcohol in the house so why would he drink mouthwash. He said if asked he could say he hadn't been drinking. Now this is sick.

by accident i drank Listerine just a little sip, i heard it could burn a hole through my intestines, I am very concerned, I am very young don't wanna die and don't wanna tell my parents.. it was an accident, what are my side effects gonna do ??.


I am a 38 year old recovering alcoholic/addict.
When everyone around me was policing my drinking, I turned to drinking mouthwash. Both Listerine and scope, it didn't matter as long as it had alcohol in it. Currently,I am in a nursing facility with severe heart failure. I still cant believe that I sank that low, but I did. Today, I cant even look at mouthwash with out wanting to throw up. As I think back to that time, I can remember barely being able to hold it down the first few minutes after drinking it. Sometimes, I couldn't hold it down, yet I would keep at it anyway. And I am sure those of you who have done this, remember the vomiting and what it did to our intestines. Currently, I am in a nursing home with severe heart failure. It makes me wonder if the years of drinking/drugging, and the year I drank mouthwash has something to do with it. I never knew so many people did this as I did, until I saw this site. God Bless all of you for having the courage to share your story.

My mom was acting funny so I went to her house, and she was acting like her normal drunk self... I couldn't find the Captain Morgan bottle this time, but a empty bottle of Listerine. She's done this in the past when I was little. From my experience, the person will act drunk as if they drank liquor, but you can smell the Listerine from five feet away, like a bottle is right under your nose.

My seventy-three year old friend has been to Betty Ford, but they advised that his lifelong abuse of alcohol has caused dementia, which is not reversible - he was asked to leave the program. We moved him in with us in order to monitor/minimize further alcohol-induced damage. He has always used Listerine but we thought nothing of it until walking in on him yesterday while he was drinking it from the container. He demonstrated his usual negative behavior associated with getting drunk, but added urinating in his pants to the repertoire. We are at a loss as to how to address his illness.

I sympathize with all of you. I'm 17 years old and just recently moved in with my mother. She too is alcoholic. But just within the past 6 months she had been getting drunk a lot on Listerine. The effects of it are so bad and there's nothing I can do but just watch her loose her 10 year battle to drinking. She'll be dead before I graduate high school. But I still have hope, that's the only thing keeping me sane.

I currently have a drinking problem with mouthwash. In fact, as an acohloic, I'm not suprised I didn't discover this earlier...YOu don't need an id, they sell it everywhere (including the dollar store) and it's got so much alcohol in it, I"m suprised when people buy "real" alcohol. All I can say for those who are recovering: It's the hardest fight. People who don't drink don't get it. Fight for your life. Alcohol will wait for you, you need distance. For those of you with friends and family on mouthwash, just realize that alcoholism, in any form, is a real disease. It's extremely painful for the alcoholic and tears their and their family's world apart. As an alcoholic, all I want is patience, trust and help.

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This page contains a single entry by Alena published on February 11, 2008 8:12 AM.

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