hand sanitizer

Most people know that alcoholism is an addiction, and that the condition can be lethal. They may not realize, however, that desperate alcoholics will drink things that are not fit for human consumption, such as mouthwash or hand sanitizer. This is extremely dangerous.

Drinking Mouthwash or Hand Sanitizer Is Dangerous:

Q. My wife was a closet alcoholic, drinking mouthwash. After I got wise to that, she switched to hand sanitizer. It honestly never occurred to me that anyone would drink that stuff.

After lots of turmoil, I gave her an ultimatum that she had to go to AA. Much to my surprise, she agreed before I spelled out what I was willing to do to get her to go.

We have been going to open meetings together for two weeks. She now has a sponsor and is working through the steps. This is the first time since I realized why the mouthwash was disappearing so rapidly that I have real hope that we are moving on a different path. Your thoughts?

High-Alcohol Mouthwash Not Made for Drinking:

A. Some mouthwash contains as much as 27 percent alcohol. That’s more than beer or wine.

The ethyl alcohol in mouthwash or hand sanitizer is not intended for drinking, however. In addition, there are other ingredients in such products that could make people ill.

We’re glad you realized there was a problem and your wife is getting help with her alcohol dependence.

Listerine Stories from Readers:

A.S. reported her husband’s problem:

“My husband has gone through super large amounts of Listerine recently. He went through four  1-liter bottles in just four days. I researched this just today.

“I asked if he was drinking it (harmlessly I thought, but that question caused a big explosion). I’ve been quietly observing him the last few days. He goes to the bathroom constantly and comes back smelling like Listerine. He’s even getting out of bed during the night and returns to bed smelling like Listerine.

“I’m very concerned, but afraid to bring it up again.”

L.L. shared a similar story:

“I am sure that my friend, who’s going thru treatment right now, is drinking Listerine. His anger and paranoia have returned and he goes through a large bottle every couple of days.

“I thought he was trying to hide drinking alcohol but I think it’s in the Listerine. He reeks of it, and is really scaring me!”

Judy has personal experience:

“As a recovering alcoholic, I remember the phase I went through when I ingested large amounts of Listerine (or house brand).

“My insanity led me to believe that no one would smell it; they would only think I had good breath. Little did I know the stuff would come out my pores.”

“I developed horrible rashes on my arms. Trust me, drinking this stuff will only hurt you, and everyone will notice it, even if you think you’re getting away with something.”

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  1. Maree

    OK, it contains alcohol, but what exactly are the effects of drinking it. I several times drank a couple of mouthfuls, because I had come in contact with someone with a cold, and hoped that the mouthwash would kill the cold germs.

    At the time, I was very close to becoming an alcoholic, but I got no lift from the mouthwash.

  2. Anon

    It’s very good to suggest / urge / demand a loved one with alcoholism seek treatment, but since no treatment has been proven to be terribly effective, what are you really suggesting?

    What lifelong treatments can we direct people to?

  3. kathryn

    As a child I on occasion swallowed mouthwash accidentally. I liked the feeling and very rarely would take a sip on purpose. There was no other alcohol in my house nor any drinkers. Later on in life I developed an alcohol problem and really struggled to stop. I have been sober now for almost 20 years, but I would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allow medical products containing alcohol in my home around my kids, This is an issue parents really need to be made aware of!!!

  4. MIKE

    When some needs to write about such absurdity makes me scratch my head. Where has common sense gone to, or is it a need to be a nanny state group think.

  5. Billy

    I am a recovering alcoholic and attend a alcohol & drugs treatment centre. I was unaware of all the things that were triggers. I have never tried any of them but see the harm they have caused other people.

  6. Judi
    port st. lucie, fl 34986

    Many years ago I discovered that my alcoholic husband had been drinking Listerine and bottles of aftershave and cologne. This caused him to start having grand mal siezures, which ultimately led to his death at age 39. As much as I watched him, I never considered that he would drink those things.

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