The People's Perspective on Medicine

Dangers of Drinking Listerine

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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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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My 23 year old daughter has started drinking mouthwash. Good old Listerine (how I hate you). I found 7 empth 1.5 litres bottles the other day. She has managed to get another 3 litres today no point asking how because she has. She is high as a kite already on 3/4 litres and slowly killing herself. She has spent 7 of the past 11 months in rehab and still here we are with the lies and deception. I love my daughter but I hate the alcoholic.

I have been through the Listerine wringer and come back. I am sure that I did a lot of damage to myself in my 2 or 3 yrs. of drinking Listerine. People find their way to the Listerine jug in a had variety of ways which are all quite common and typical for a person whose alcohol addiction has deteriorated to an advanced degree.

I am not a health care professional or a doctor, just an ex-drunk with a hell of a lot of experience in the addict’s role in this tragedy. The truth is that most people who end up going this route are simply people whose progression in this disease finally has led them to the Listerine experiment.

If there is one thing a seasoned, hard core alcoholic fears, it is withdrawal, as well it should. It is truly a thing to fear, especially without medical assistance. It kills a lot of people outright. So a stolen bottle of Listerine isn’t such a bad alternative to this horror, and one does get used to drinking it in a pinch. I’ve known a couple of people who preferred it to alcohol. There is no humor here in this. My experience has led me to conclude that this is simply another, and often final step, in the progression of alcoholism.

The only way to reduce, if not altogether stop this practice, is to stop the progression of the disease where it is so it doesn’t escalate to this point. It’s a tall order. I’ve been sober three years now, and I know if I ever started again it would lead me back down that path at some point. It would be pointless to try to regulate Listerine sales or to control its use. If a drunk needs a fix he’s gonna find one no matter what.

My mother was an alcoholic my whole life, but my family always stuck their head in the sand. No one ever said a word to her b/c she wanted us to be the “perfect” family. I first noticed 2 liter bottles of wine coolers then it progressed to warm beer hidden behind the spices then vodka and then that fateful call one morning it had progressed to mouthwash. Every time she ended up in the hospital they always treated the physical ailment never the mental issues that caused the drinking in the first place.

I would always pour her drinks out and never say anything and that is my fault. I was hoping I was sending a statement. I was just a kid and didn’t know what to do. My whole childhood she was in/out of hospitals as well as my adulthood. I moved away as to not have to deal with it. Every time she was supposed to come and visit me it never happened. There was always an excuse, but it was always that she was too drunk to board the plane. Can someone please explain what goes through and alcoholics head that they must drink when something is so important. I have been let down so many times and have so many questions. My mom organized a girls cruise and the day that she was supposed to come she was to drunk to even leave the house to catch a plane to see me. That is the morning she admitted that she had been drinking mouthwash. I was appalled to say the least.

After a lot of thought I realized that I had always seen mouthwash in our cabinet and wondered if it had been going on for longer than I had thought. This occurred in March and she died in August! She was forgetful all the time and she didn’t go anywhere, but she would tell us that she did. My dad lived under the same roof and did nothing. I went home for the funeral and the house just reeked of death. How could he not have known. It has been 8 years and obviously I am still bitter. How can one just drink their life away. I know when I say this people are going to hate me, but when she died it made our lives much easier. I hate the drama that came with it all. My life is more peaceful now. I have no idea how to stop someone from drinking, but please stop before you pick up that bottle of mouthwash and digest it. It REALLY does kill you!!!

You are very wise. Alcohol is the great remover. Will take away stains, family, friends, careers, and your life.
Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly in an agonizing death.
Hurting the ones closest to you the most. Bill W. and Dr. Bob had it right in 1934: “Only a Higher Power can heal us.” Only 3 out of 100 will make it. God bless us all. One day at a time.

I have a sister who lives with me and my husband and a couple years ago the dr told me if she didn’t stop drinking she would be dead in a couple years,well she stopped drinking vodka only because I would t take her to buy it and since she doesn’t know drive she has no way of getting it herself
So not long ago I couldn’t figure out how she was getting high and found out she was drinking listerine. Without my knowledge she had been stealing it from the store when we would go. Just small enough to put it in her purse so one day while at the store I knew she was up to something and that’s when I discovered what she had been doing. So I told her she could no longer take a purse into the store when we went and she agreed, but now she is asking for money which is her money and so I gave her $20 and now she has been buying listerine. So now since thats all she can get that’s what she is drinking on a regular basis at least until it’s gone and then she has to figure out her next move as how to get more.
So I told her that I have done all that I can physically do for her and she refuses to get the help that she needs. So I pray that the Lord will deliver her because he is the only one who can .it can be very stressful for me knowing the state that she has been in and she really knows that what she is doing is only going to lead to further drinking. She thinks she is in control. I try to get her out the house as much as I can but I know that I cant

Running across these comments have only confirmed what I already knew. it saddens me because I am afraid of what is to come. I understand the struggle, because I am in recovery. I discovered over a year ago that my 25 year old fiancee was drinking mouthwash, on days he couldn’t buy vodka, or when he didn’t have enough money for vodka. even after being hospitalized for acute pancreatitis, and getting out of rehab recently, he is still doing it. he won’t admit to it, period, just works harder to destroy the evidence. but as you all know, there is NO concealing the smell. i have threatened numerous times to leave, but keep giving him chances. not going to watch the love of my life kill himself. also threatening my sobriety at this point. I came to this page today, and now know how common this is. over and out today, or else I will lose it… Prayers

My wife is fantastic, the nicest person I have ever known. But she has suffered from anxiety and it has led to alcoholism and depression. For a long time I didn’t realize the roll that alcohol was playing because she hid it. Since I discovered what was going on there has been an ongoing cycle of sobriety and the return of my best friend, and then the slow descent into hiding alcohol, lies, and the angry, depressed, anxiety plagued person she becomes.

For a long time she would deny she had a problem, and put the blame on various things. The never ending “I’ll stop drinking if…” But of course there’s always another if. Recently she has come to terms with the fact that she is an alcoholic, but is unwilling to get help. She buys vodka or gin, puts it in water bottles, and then she hides them. I got better at catching her, and she got better at hiding them. We would go through this ritual where I would see signs of the cycle returning, but I would be positive. I would ask her about it, and she would look me in the eye and lie. Eventually I would catch her, and she would apologize (after a fight in which she wanted a divorce) and swear she was done with it.

We have recently had a few weeks of the return of my sweetheart, but I have been sure for several days that the cycle was beginning again. Finally tonight I discovered that she was drinking mouthwash. She confessed again blaming other things, refused to get help, she is relieved that she was discovered because now the last temptation is supposedly removed. When she is sober she admits that alcohol reduces her to a depressed shell of herself. I’m watching her slowly kill herself. We have four daughters and she’s a fantastic mother when she’s sober, and even through most of the cycle. But at the worst of it she can’t cope with life or her children. I’m afraid she’s going to kill herself with alcohol, probably leaving us with expensive medical bills, and leaving me without my best friend and my daughters without their mother. And for what? Somehow despite all the evidence the contrary, she still believes that alcohol helps her to cope when is actually prevents her from coping. I am begging her to get help, and I really don’t know what to do.

I have been sober for 14 months now and counting! (I drank vodka)
A rehab co- client I ran into last night just stank of Listerine, he can’t kick the booze/afford it so he drinks that stuff? If you ask me it’s brain, stomach and liver poison! As he puts it: “the first sip makes you puke, then it goes down fine!” Its not just the booze, its the flavoring in it (read up! Its scary!).
It was never, EVER designed to be ingested! Seriously!
PLEASE! If you do drink it and can’t stop, switch to cheap wine or beer and try quitting again. Go to an AA or S.M.A.R.T. meeting.
I’m finally free after years of misery!
Good luck and God speed- seriously!

Francis K

@concerned – I’m an alcoholic in recovery, and my advice to you is get your butt to an ALANON meeting ASAP

I’m an alcoholic and have been for ten yrs. It’s a very scary disease. I hate myself for being so weak. My family and friends have no patience left. And I don’t have any right to be angry, but I’m pissed! Then I have another justifiable reason, in my alcoholic mind, to lose it and get trashed. What is wrong with me?

I started dating my fiance in early March, he has been an addict and alcoholic since he was 16, he’s now 35. After about 3 weeks of him drinking a bottle of vodka a day along with drug use, I gave him the ultimatum to either stop drinking vodka or leave.
He did stop drinking vodka but went to drinking atleast a 12 pack of beer a day. Before we met he was a heroin, meth, and pill addict. He’s been to numerous rehab facilities and would get out and go right back to it. He was hospitalized with pancreatitis and almost dead due to drinking rubbing alcohol, listerine, and vanilla extract. He was caught shoplifting vanilla extract and had charges which he just paid off last week! Here recently he has been reeking of mint (Listerine), when I confronted him, at first he denied it then 2 days later admitted to me that he had.
He drinks beer from the time he wakes up until he passes out. We have started reading the Bible and various devotionals daily, i know that God is working in his life to help him overcome this disease. His faith is growing stronger each day and he is developing his own personal relationship with God. I pray for all of us who have addictions to let go and let God take the wheel

I have a partner (58 yrs. old) who is an alcoholic. I am new to this relationship with him, so I am just learning of his disease. His wife of 38 yrs. left him, but he can be so manipulative with his words, that he convinced me that she was the one that was the problem in the marriage. I have been divorced myself many years ago, and have full understanding that it takes two to spoil a relationship. My concerns for my partner we will call him “John” is that he is a successful business owner, very nice sober man…. but when he drinks he is verbally abusive, manipulative, jealous, and quite mean. I have convinced him to go to addiction services, and he did just start….. but he has such a battle in front of him. Over the weekend when we argued, I asked him to leave my home. He did, and found himself at his X’s house beating down the door. He was taken to jail. He is SO in denial when he speaks about his problems, and he ALWAYS manages to see a way to blame his actions on someone else. I really feel bad for him, and want to help, but a part of me tells me to run. Do I really need all of this stress, emotional abuse, and fear of the future after just being in this relationship for 8 months. I want to help him, but I know he has to want to help himself. I have always wondered how he became so angry, and appearing drunk after saying he only had 1 or 2 beer. Now I believe he too is drinking Listerine. I found an empty bottle in his truck, and from reading the above comments, he has everyone of the symptoms. Red eyes, sleeps a lot, angry, forgets things he says, and slurs his words. I am devastated at the thought of what he is living. He has a long road ahead of him, and now with legal charges against him, a legal nasty divorce to go thru with his X, and now that I have asked him to leave my home, I am worried about how he will cope. He just truly has to take responsibility for his actions, and get help, but he can’t stay here, and emotionally abuse me in the process. Please pray for him.

Our 44 year old son has struggled for over 20 years with alcoholism. He has been through treatment twice. He is now drinking Listerine, and Benadryl, and cough syrups. He becomes extremely aggressive and very verbally aggressive. He denies what he is doing, and becomes very angry when we ask him what he has been drinking..
He is very well educated in the field of addiction studies. Which is the irony in this situation. We are very very worried that the combination of these over the counter meds, along with drinking vodka, will end up to be a deadly concoction .. His marriage is in jeopardy, and he is suffering from depression also.
It is hard to believe that he has been reduced to using Listerine as ZAN drink of choice!! Do these high content alcohol medications need to be included in the “prescription only” category?
Alcoholism is a killer. We continue to pray for a cure, for our son, and all who suffer this affliction.

I have a 26 year old sister. She is a mother of two young children. She has been a heavy drinker and an abuser of prescription drugs for many years. In 2012 she went to rehab and then a halfway house. She was asked to leave the halfway house for drinking. After she returned home she attempted to go back to work. She showed up drunk so she lost her job.
She has been unemployed since and had to move out of her house due to not being able to pay her electric bill. She and her two children live with my mom currently. My mom and I noticed that she has been getting high or drunk on something but we couldn’t figure out how she was getting whatever it was. My mom decided to go and look in her room. My mom was shocked to find a bottle of mouthwash by her bed.
We are scared for her life and the well being of her children. My mom works and my sister is home alone with the children. My mom has come home to her drunk and not really functional. We are stuck and don’t know what we should do next! Any advice would be appreciated!!

Hi there. I am very sorry to hear of your husbands problem. People who drink alcoholically or drug addicts have an amazing gift to make the “normal” person actually question their own sanity.
There is a wonderful place called Al-Anon for the wives, husbands of alcoholics and addicts and Al-Ateen for the children.
These organizations will really help a lot.
Good Luck, (It’s not You).
This goes to all who are suffering a life with an alcoholic or addict or who may have lost a loved one to this horrible disease.
P.S “Alcoholism is not a spectator sport. Pretty soon the entire family gets to play.”
It eventually destroys the whole family

I am 28 years old. My 26 year old fiance is an alcoholic/addict. She kicked heroin and coke before we ever met both cold turkey. She doesn’t drink every day. Sometimes she’ll go months at a time sober and everything is great. She had a couple binges during her pregnancy with our son. I was so scared for him but (fingers and toes crossed) he is now just over a year and has no health issues. I even went to court for custody over the summer but she got herself help, finished the program with flying colors, and I ended up giving her joint custody and moving back in with her.
Well the past couple nights her anger has been out of control. When she drinks she gets nasty, verbally and less often physically. It was to the point where I made my mother come pick up my son and take him overnight. Getting to the point…. I removed all the alcohol from the house and when confronted she said she had taken vallium (BS). Last night she passed out and had diarrhea in the bed. Tonight all I could smell coming from her mouth was Listerine. Her eyes were beet red and she kept complaining about her stomach. After reading these posts I know without a doubt she was drinking Listerine. I’m completely at a loss right now. No idea what to do. Can’t believe it’s come to this. I really fear what kind of life my son will have if she can’t kick this. Thank you all for your testimonies /info.

I used to be an everyday vodka drinker a 1.75 a day of cheap vodka if I didn’t have any left and ran out of money I would scrounge up some change and buy mouthwash. I did that for a year then I started getting really sick all the time so I finally decided to put myself into a detox center I was there for a week it was in a hospital and I went to treatment for 60 days after that and lived in a group home for a year after that to get me back on my feet it was the best decision I’ve ever made I’m 26 now 2 years sober.

I am truly sorry for your loss. I cannot fathom the pain you feel right now. I am terrified I will be in your shoes, but my husband has had many chances.
I am married to an alcoholic who has chosen Listerine, Vodka, 8 beer a night, prescription meds (analgesics, benzodiazepines), plus a Tylenol Pm each night and 2-3 benadryl during the day while working. He was a functioning alcoholic while drinking beer, but when mixing the other liquids and prescription meds, he faces losing a job he just started 3 weeks ago after being at his former job for 7 years. Since we married, he has been in 1 detox program, and I had him involuntarily committed both of which took place at the end of last year. Today he committed himself, and is currently sitting in a hospital bed going through detox before entering yet another detox program. This will be his 4th detox and he has been in rehab twice (obviously some were prior to our marriage). He has been violent towards me, hateful, made threats in public, punched items (besides me), driven while intoxicated but not caught even after going through a check point.
I am exhausted, I stay stressed out, I am frustrated, I have let it affect my health, and to top it all off I have 2 months until I graduate from Nursing School (ironic, eh?). I am just trying to finish school and leave, and he knows this as I have exhausted all I can to try to help him. I love him, but I can no longer live in this nightmare. As I’ve told him, he is dragging me to the grave with him, and I can’t continue to let him do that.
I am hoping he will commit to a long term program (30 days will NOT suffice) if he TRULY wants to change, but I know that he is a good manipulator and liar, and how easy it is for me to believe he will change.
His eyes have yellow spots and yellowing of the sclera which of course leads to signs of liver dysfunction and possible cirrhosis. He is having problems swallowing, he forgets things, and they completed a CT scan on him roughly a hour ago. I am waiting for a call to hear those results.
I have enabled him…of this I am aware. But I am tired of being an enabler. I am tired of him being selfish, not supporting me emotionally during my nursing school education, tired of him not being the loving and sweet husband I know he can be, and I’m tired of having to leave my home to stay with someone else because he becomes violent, and I fear for my life.
He is slowly dying. I have no doubt in my mind. The signs are there, and he knows the signs are there. Yet, that does not scare him enough.
I have been on my knees crying and praying for the Lord to humble him and open his eyes, but his heart is hardened. I truly think he wants to change, but he doesn’t know how. I know how….cry out to the Lord, and trust in Him alone after seeking the medical help he needs to avoid DT’s.
For all of those struggling with alcoholism, I pray for you.
For all of those having to live or who love someone who is an alcoholic, I pray for you. It’s true….it affects the whole family, and I’m thankful we do not have children. Truly thankful for that!

Tonight I caught my five year old daughter trying to sneak a swig of Listerine, and that’s the climax of my dilemma right now, HELP !

That is me, but I haven’t Killed myself yet!?!? I am already doing it slowly & been to 8 rehabs. 2 sober livings!! & have no License, so that what I do. I no ~ I better get my head right, because I am 37 & I’m killing my self slowly but surly. Any Advice. I’ve started back to A.A. But can’t stop. Even church…. SHAME!!!! E-mail not working right now:(

I found this page a day too late. I suspected my partner was drinking listerine but when I did realise and confronted him it was just too late to seek help. He was just so angry. Listerine had changed his personality. He was always tired, weak, depressed, pains in the muscles, lost a lot of weight and memory was terrible. His liver and kidneys were damaged. He died a week after we spoke about his situation. The signs were there, the bottles of listerine in all flavours. All through the day I would smell listerine on his breath but he would say he just freshened up his breath. I was blinded by this as it was too close to home having worked with people who abuse substance – I wish I could change the hands of time but it is too late.

I just wanted to say that, as I was scrolling through this forum, I came across your thread and it really touched me. I can relate to your husband 100 percent and the unfortunate part of that relation is due to the fact that I’m merely 26 years old. My alcoholism has progressed to a large degree over the last year and I too have resorted to drinking mouthwash.
My “fiancee-to-be” has dealt with it for this period of time, but I don’t know how much more she can take. The strangest part about it all is living in the disease, knowing that you have it, hating every day of living like that, and yet still doing it… I just wanted to make it known that your husband is far from “alone”; I myself have attempted rehab and detox NUMEROUS times and was even blessed with two years of sobriety prior to my most recent relapse.
Bottom line is, alcoholism seems to be a disease stronger than just about any other (at this point I’d bet it against cancer). The progression of it is something which I still cannot figure out, and very well may never be able to. I wish you and your husband the best. It takes a great deal of love to stay with someone for that period of time in the midst of such an ordeal. I can only pray that God steps into my life and helps me with this debilitating issue- not just for me, but for everyone who cares about me and my well being.

I am the alcoholic drinking Listerine. I am 30 years old. I have been to too many rehabs since 18. I once heard of a girl in group who relapsed on mouth wash, then hit a pole while driving to get actual alcohol. This sickness has been with me for over half my life. I got sober for 2 babies that I miscarriaged. I lost my fiance. I can harder look in the mirror. You can be an alcoholic with cough syrup or mouth wash…and I read baby wipes that aren’t alcohol free. I most likely have pancreatic cancer. And I still won’t stop. Help those you love. Before it is too late.

This seems to be a terrible problem. My huband is a recovering alcoholic with a brain injury. And will not stop driking vodka or mouth wash (listerine). He just got out of the hospital 7-days after going into cardiac arrest. He has had pancreatitis 5-times this year, and currently suffers from Dementia, Diabetes, diminished cognitive responses. He will not stop lying, or stealing. I don’t know what else to do for him. The verbal abuse when drinking the mouth wash is unbelievable!!
lost in pa!

I’ve been married to an alcoholic who is still the love of my life for the past 15 years. He started drinking secretly 13 years ago.
He used to go to AA, but eventually decided it wasn’t for him. He’s gone to therapy and has tried different therapists over the years, but he always lies to the therapists about his drinking. How can they know what really goes on at home? They only see him one hour a week and he wants them to like him, so he is always sober when he sees them.
He doesn’t really trust anyone he admires with the truth.
He’s been in and out of hospital ER’s repeatedly over the years; has gotten two DWI’s; spent a weekend in jail; was put on probation again and had an ignition interlock device on his car for two years; went back to drinking as soon as the device was taken off the car; ended up in ICU for two weeks; wore an ankle bracelet that read his perspiration on a 24/7 basis for six months; went back to drinking as soon as the ankle bracelet came off; went back to going in and out of the hospital for the next six months; went to a treatment program in the country for a month; went back to drinking three months later; and went back to the revolving door of hospital ER’s for a month or so.
Finally, in Oct. 2008, just after he ended up in the county hospital ER again, he went to a psychiatrist who prescribed a drug called Naltrexone. It was basically a miracle drug that curbed his cravings. He said it made him feel “flat” after drinking. He no longer got a “buzz”, as he put it. On this drug, he stayed happily sober for almost three years. He went back to being the wonderful guy I fell in love with 15 years ago. We were very happy, or so I thought.
Then, last August, 2011, he suddenly quit taking the miracle drug, Naltrexone. He said later that he had thought that maybe since he had been sober for so long, he just didn’t need the drug anymore. So, he quit taking it. But the cravings immediately came back and he went back to drinking secretly again. I noticed the old familiar patterns, the personality changes, the sudden cessation of productivity a few days later.
I confronted him gently and asked him if he was drinking again. He denied it adamantly, but I finally went back to searching the kitchen cabinets and found several empty bottles. It was absolutely horrifying to find them, especially after the years of happiness we had shared. I confronted him with the empty bottles in my hands and tears in my eyes. He apologized and finally sobered up again three months later, during December 2011. He didn’t want our five adult sons to see him drinking again, so he got sober just before they came to see us for Christmas.
He stayed sober until this past October, 2012. As soon as I detected the old patterns and confronted him with the evidence, he sobered up again, but only for a few weeks. Now, for some unknown reason, he’s gone back to secretly drinking again and lying about it.
On Friday, Nov. 30th, he begged to be taken to the county hospital ER. I took him, but they let him come home on Monday, Dec. 3rd. They couldn’t hold him against his will. He told the hospital he was fine, and indeed, he was sober.
For the next week, he did nothing but lay around in the bedroom. He claimed he was still too sick to do anything productive.
This last Monday, Dec. 10th, he was supposed to have gone to see his psychiatrist. He told me he had told the Dr. the truth about his relapses and his hospitalization. But yesterday, I got a letter from the Dr., saying he had been a no show. I confronted my husband about this and he said “Oh, I told you I skipped that appt.” I reminded him about all the lies he had told me, and he said “Yeah, but I told you the truth later.” He was lying again, of course.
Since then, he’s done nothing but lay in the bed. I had gotten him to eat a little breakfast and lunch yesterday and today. He had also begun to read an excellent book about depression by Dr. Michael Yapko. He came into the den and sat with me for short periods of time yesterday and today. He decided to try and make amends to me by going to the hardware store for some extension cords and timers for our Christmas lights. When he got back home, he said he had gotten dizzy at the store and had thrown up. So, he went back to bed and said that he must have gotten out of the house too soon. But remember, according to him, he hadn’t had anything alcoholic to drink since Monday and he seemed to be getting better.
But tonight at 7pm, he begged to be taken back to the hospital because he was about to go onto DT’s. He admitted that when he went to the store, he had also gone to the grocery store and bought a bottle of Blue Listerine. He said he drank most of the bottle very quickly and told me he hid it behind the garbage can in our kitchen.
Tonight, he’s back in the hospital again. He called to say he’s stable. He thinks he’ll be out again soon. And I know the hospital won’t keep him there against his will. I know he will go right back to drinking some form of alcohol as soon as he gets out.
He wants to go see his 92-year-old mother in West Texas for Christmas. He won’t miss that if he can stay sober enough to drive all the way to get there. Then, he’ll go back to drinking as soon as he gets back here. He always promises he’ll stay sober; then he simply denies it when I begin to see the familiar signs and ask him about it.
Except for the relatively brief times of sobriety previously described, he’s been drinking and hiding large bottles of Blue Listerine…off and on since 2007.
He explains that he thinks he can taper off or control his urge to drink stronger forms of alcohol by drinking Listerine and he wants to avoid the discomfort of the DT’s. He never remembers all the horrible pain he’s endured during previous hospitalizations. He never remembers, or cares, about what he’s done to me. He has suffered no physical damage from all the years of drinking, which is really weird. He’s 60 years old now, as I am.
I’m very worried about him, of course. That is why I looked up this blog tonight after I dropped him off at the hospital again. I know there’s nothing I can do about him, except try to curb my justified hurt and anger, monitor his behavior, take him to the hospital to detox, and encourage him to stay sober.
But because of his previous experiences, he has no faith in AA, treatment programs, or therapy. Oh, and he’s an Elder in our Church, and does a lot of volunteer work, and gives generously to others, too. And he has many good friends who are ex-addicts, but are successfully sober without the help of drugs or AA. So, turning to God and religion, and helping others, and finding a sober group of friends who support him emotionally hasn’t helped him either. He’s tried all of these things, and it sounds like many of the people writing in on this blog feel the same way.
Sadly, nothing works with some people.
I’ve loved him dearly all these years, but he obviously doesn’t love me or anyone else who loves him. His mother is 92 years old and she doesn’t know about this most recent set of relapses. His mother and his adult sons will be heart-broken if he drinks himself to death. I don’t know how I will survive emotionally if he kills himself by drinking. I will miss him terribly!

You can get through this. Get to a local hospital, they will treat you, & send you to a rehab. Your life can change and it will get better. Nothing is worth having if you don’t work hard for it. I have faith in you, you are not alone.
-Fellow (recovering) Alcoholic.

if you have a loved one that is an alcoholic try to help them, I wish I had just one person there for me. sure you cant force someone to stop but I might die tonight and just want someone to talk to, seriously reach out

I’ll be homeless in a week because I have no family and want you to know I’ll be thinking of you and sympathizing with you while trying to find a job and couch surfing if my “friends” will even let me. I’m about to detox and just wish I had someone there for me. You might know the feeling, I’m sure someone does. I really wish I had support.

Alcoholics’ only concern is getting that next drink be it vodka or even mouthwash. 26.9% is just shy of 53 proof and the upper-end liqueurs and cordials don’t boast proofs like that! How devastating addiction is, to turn to mouthwash. It’s cheap, readily available, and no one is the wiser. Not the cashier at the drug store who may not recall “Weren’t you in here a week ago buying a big bottle of Listerine?” And it doesn’t even have to be Listerine; it can be the store brand. Four dollars for the CVS or Walgreens brand sure beats six for name brands, and one can go to multiple stores to stock up on a cheap supply. Who needs bottom shelf vodka when there’s plentiful (and legal — no one cards you for mouthwash) ways to get high. Addiction is tricky and those who battle it will always find workarounds to that easy high.

My husband is an alcoholic…he would hide his gin and vodka bottles from me even though he promised he wasn’t drinking anymore. He would swear on our kids lives that he put that behind him. I recently had a very good friend admitted to in patient rehab for drinking mouth wash-that’s how bad it was.
I talked to my husband about her and he swore to me he would never stoop that low… but then here tonight, as I am working-trying to support our family-he talks to me on the phone and I just know something isn’t right, and so I take a break to run home to find an entire bottle of mouthwash gone. I am angry. I am mad… I am starting to feel resentment towards him-because hes being selfish.
Am I wrong for feeling this way? There are weeks that we struggle to make ends meet (with only one income) but he can find money for his mouthwash his gin etc. There are weeks I have worked 14 days straight… and I am to the point where I feel I am only working to feed his addiction. I’ve tried to get him to go to AA, he had started to see a Psychologist but then stopped said it wasn’t for him. Hundreds and hundreds of promises broken. I’ve always been his biggest supporter.. always right by his side.. encouraging him telling him he can overcome his demons… but here I am again. Anybody else feel this way?

I am so sad to have found this page, but almost relieved to know that I am not crazy, and that my alcoholic husband, who is “in recovery” IS DRINKING MOUTHWASH. My concern is for his health – he has several alcoholic induced problems including esophageal varacies, pulmonary hypertension and cirrhosis. Not to mention the pack of Marlboro Reds he smokes everyday. We have been separated for 4 years and has been to rehab so many times I cannot remember the exact number, including a 6 month after-care sober living facility. His parents have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket for the care not covered under my health insurance.
His parents still support him in a “sober” living house, pay his rent and all utilities and take him to the grocery store. They have FINALLY realized they cannot give him money to go grocery shopping on his own, as he will go straight to the liquor store. My dilemma is whether or not I should tell them – we have a strained relationship as it is. I just want them to know so that if something horrible does happen, they will not be shocked. Please advise – and know that I am praying for everyone and their families on this blog – addiction is just a horrible, horrible disease.

I’m very sorry for everyone who has lived through being an alcoholic and have now inspired me not to be like my friends and drink hand sanitizer and mouthwash but to know that I do not need alcohol in my life. Thank you all for being honest and inspiring me to not drink. (I’m 15.)

Hiding- I’m so sorry you are going through this but you know as well as any other addict out there that you have two options… To get help or die.
I too struggled with the agoraphobia- but that’s what the end stages of alcholism does to you! It wants you alone, depressed, scared… :(
Listerine is some shit to be on and it’ll eat you alive, literally.
Please push your demons aside and save yourself. You deserve to be happy! Bottom line- people WILL be disappointed but that’s only because they care so much about you. Just think of how heartbroken they would be to find out something happened to you. ;(
Hope I helped any. As to all of you- we DESERVE LIFE. We deserve happiness and love just like everyone else.

I have NO ONE to turn to. I quit drinking in 2010, mostly because I ended up in the hospital and was nearly dead. I had neuropathy, CHF, anemia, etc. Anyway…August I should be on 2 years sober and that’s what EVERYONE thinks, but no…I started drinking Listerine again. I had done that before back in 2007, but it was short lived. Now, I am doing it because I don’t want to disappoint anyone.
It’s really hard because I have to be careful not to go through too much. I think the reason I’m able to get away with it is because I do have bad teeth and gums, and at one point that is EXACTLY why I used it. I wasn’t drinking it until I had a bad day and just lost it. It’s only getting worse, and I’m agoraphobic so I don’t go to meetings or anything,
I have a bunch of blogging friends that have always been supportive of me, but I just don’t want to tell this secret to anyone. I just don’t know what to do. I was doing so good. I hate myself right now. I hate being an alcoholic. I hate that when things get tough I feel that’s all I can do to feel better,.

Listerine is a nasty route, folks. I tried it once and my stomach felt fizzy and bloated from the first drink all the way through the night. Chances are you’re only drinking it cuz you can’t get your hands on a liquor bottle. And chances are, for good reason. Don’t chase your wife away. It’s not worth it. Been there, done that. I looked for the answer to my relationship problems at the bottom of a bottle for two years before I finally realized I was only gonna find the end of my family as I know it. Don’t make the same mistake I did. After she’s gone, no amount of alcohol will make you forget about her, just make you act like the same fool she ran away from.

seriously guys if have somebody in your life struggling with an alcohol addiction serious enough to consume mouthwash get them to read these posts could make the world of difference.

I just started using Listerine and was concerned as to what would happen if I were to swallow it by mistake but that problem seems very small compared to people getting drunk on mouthwash.

I am 21. I have been an addict/alcoholic for years now. Been through all the facilities and rehab centers. I took a 30 day chip in AA not too long ago. Soon after I fell, and began drugging and drinking again. Unfortunately I don’t make enough money to buy real alcohol. Every day after work, I go to the dollar store and buy 2 bottles of listerine. I drink them rapidly in a sitting. I have broken dishes in my apartment, I sleepwalk and destroy stuff that I have no memory of.
After a month, I’ve roughly consumed about 50 bottles of Listerine. I throw up in my sleep, and can feel my heart taking the toll. I can literally feel the chemicals burning through my organs. I’m sick on a constant basis. I still go to work everyday, and I never give up on myself. I used to drink rubbing alcohol, but switched to Listerine. Anyway, I hope anyone suffering may find answers. I’m looking desperately.
Listerines no joke.

That quote you have at the end is very powerful. It really puts things in perspective.

Alcoholism is a very hard river to row.

Deb- I’m sorry you are going through a rough time. :( My heart aches for your 13 year old as I am a daughter of a drug addicted mother. The best thing they ever did for me was send me to live with a healthy relative. Which happens to be my sister. When I was 13, I really started to become aware of what was going on around me and I too was a mess. I started dabbling into drugs and found myself in a long term downward spiral with crappy relationships with friends and boyfriends, dropped out of school, self esteem issues, was in and out of rehabs for my drinking.
It wasn’t until I got out of that environment that I started picking up the pieces at 21, and started focusing on what’s important- myself. For too long I did all the wrong things to gain my parents attention- thinking that my bad behavior would open up my parents eyes and somehow my mom would stop using drugs. Well that never happened and my life was a wreck because of it.
Please make sure your 13 year old is getting all the help she/he needs. Listen to her/him. Stand up for her! It could save a lot of pain… I resented my dad for soo long for always sticking by my moms side and not being there for us kids. I still struggle with it. I hope you stay with alanon. Just remember- we can’t fix the addicts we love. They gotta want it… And sometimes they just don’t have any fight left. Focus on yourself and the life of your child. You deserve to be happy!

My husband is an alcoholic, he usually drinks vodka, but he used to drink Listerine on a regular basis, even when he was hospitalized for 6 weeks and part of his bowel removed he still drinks both. He is now on long term disability, and I find that I can’t work either, he needs 24 hour supervision.
Finance are a mess, our 13 year old is a mess, I’m a mess. I’m going Alanon, and my daughter is going to Alateen, but where does it end??? I know there is really only one answer to that but got it hurts.

I suggest attending the nearest ALANON meeting. You will find great support with people that have overcome the same situation. I am an alcoholic an ALANON has helped my family learn how to deal with me. It may seem harsh but it actually helped me once they learned a new way to deal with me. I hope this helps.

Oh my gosh. Thank you all SO much for your comments. I am a 27 year old alcoholic and have been a heavy, daily vodka drinker, in and out of treatment/detox for 6 years. I always heard there are people who drink mouthwash when treatment specialists would be going through my things at intake. I NEVER did it, or had a thought of doing it… Until last night, when I did.
I found this website, first and only try, to see what mouthwash does to a body and found support (much more needed than the info.). I have a sponsor and each second of my 2 week relapse has been awful. I am posting this to say, “Thank you” and to let poster’s in the past and future know that you are not alone. Victim of alcoholism, friend or family member. This disease is evil. There is hope. Family members and friends, love the suffering alcoholic in your life (that does not mean enable), until they can love themselves. Addicts, get help. Alcohol will ALWAYS be a part of the world. You have to face that you cannot be a part of alcohol. I don’t have to know you to know you are not happy, like this.

@Michael- I’m sorry to hear about your brother. It sounds as though his addiction has cause a lot of shame and guilt… I think many alcoholics (such as myself) resort to mouthwash because its almost the less obvious… Like you said- you see all these things going right. Why would you suspect he was drinking? However If he were to drive to the liquor store and grab a bottle it would get out quickly that he was drinking again. Make sense? That’s how it was for me anyways…
Either way, mouthwash IS horrible. I’m very sure your brother knows how dangerous it is as well. But as alcoholics we get to a certain point when it’s just us and our disease.
You’ve confronted him which in my own opinion is all you can do. After the many times you go to rehabs and stuff you know what you are doing. Hopefully he will see what he’s doing and reach out for help.

My brother is 30 years old and has suffered many forms of addiction over the years. His drug of choice was opiates, but after many rehabs and treatment centers, he is back home holding a full time job for the first time ever, which may be a result of the suboxone medication he is taking which has made a big improvement.
However, I am really concerned because my uncle, who lives in the same room for right now as my brother, told me that my brother was drinking yellow Listerine throughout the night. My brother has been doing well, he has a car, money, and access to a liquor store but I can’t understand why someone would choose to drink Listerine over liqueur? I have suspected something was going on because when he talks, or breathes near me I can tell that he must have ingested mouthwash because I can smell it on his breath. Not like someone who just rinsed their mouth, but 8 hours later after many cigarettes and dr. Peppers, almost like it is on his lungs when he breathes out?
When I asked him about it, he simply deflected and said he had to wash his mouth out to get stuff out of his teeth? What I can’t understand I guess, is if people actually prefer Listerine over liqueur or beer when they have access to it, or if mouthwash is a last ditch effort for alcoholics? I am really concerned because I can not seem to get into the logic of what he is doing? He is (or was very intelligent) and knows that consuming mouthwash is dangerous and lethal. I guess my question would be if anyone has ever heard of someone choosing to drink mouthwash rather than driving a block away to get a bottle of liqueur?

Thank you David! Those are some beautiful words and very inspiring! I can now say I am 2 days shy from 60 days sober! And going strong! :)
I feel so much better already. Even though I’m forgetful as hell and my emotions are out of whack right now, it’s exciting and encouraging to know I can only keep improving… :) Things are still rough but the struggle is way easier to deal with SOBER.

First of all you are not pathetic. You are beautiful.
Remember that you are human and forgive yourself for your failings. We all fail. We all fail. Now you need to realize that and GET BACK UP. Admit the failings and shake them off for one day while you stay sober. Then at the end of the day do a gratitude list. It may not be much at first but that’s OK. Go to bed sober. Wake up the next day and tell yourself that you will stay sober for 24 hours. If you have a higher power, pray, ask for the strength to accomplish that goal.
You will survive. Believe me, if I could do it, anyone can.

I know this is very hard on you, and probably anyone that knows and loves your sister.
I feel her pain. I am an alcoholic and I’ve been in that low, self-loathing pit of despair that your sister may be feeling. If she already has liver problems…. the mouthwash will only make things much worse. I can’t paint a pretty picture. I know you’ve probably already read about the damaging affects that mouthwash has on the organs, the heart, the brain. But there is HOPE!!!
Many people have come to live a wonderful healthy life after being in similar situations. I am one.
The tricky part is, that she HAS to be the one that wants a better life. No amount of your love or will power can make that happen. It’s a sad truth. What you CAN do is continue showering her with love. Read some of these posts to her.
Give her facts. Facts of the awful road that consuming mouthwash (or any alcohol for her) will lead to.
Rehab is fine…to a point. But I firmly believe in the saving grace that Alcoholics Anonymous provides. There are people like her that have been through this and have come out on the other side. She needs to have a one on one with an alcoholic in the AA program. I would gladly be at her door if you’re in my city. Shoot I’ll even call her and talk to her if you’d like. I believe in AA that much. What city are you in? I’ll drive if it’s close enough.
For her to hear from another addict, another alcoholic, for her to hear their story. To hear their awful experiences, the strength that comes from no-where, and the HOPE that she can live a happy and purposeful life.
I love ya, and I’m praying right now that somehow, someway your sister will hear something that sparks the desire to want to live better.
I am serious about wanting to help.

OMG, I want all of you to know I feel your pain. I don’t know what to do. My sister is 100 days out of rehab and is on a terrible mouthwash bender. It isn’t like dealing with a drunk person, she’s crazy, lying all the time, she doesn’t know which way is up. I read on one website you need to break the cycle no matter what, I don’t know if I can have my sister put in jail, or in a psych ward. I can’t do that to my sister. She has been in the hospital 4 times with liver problems. I need to know, what is the right thing to do. I know she will not live to see 40. Any suggestions or advice please?

I am 28 years old and an addict/alcoholic… sadly I came upon this website searching for the side effects of drinking Listerine because I am so desperate to drink but I have no support system to keep me from it.. I have a 17 month old daughter and I am only parent so I can’t get to aa meetings.. or na meetings and I am terrified of ending up like these people…

My Dad is a good man. He is also an alcoholic. He has been in recovery for 7 years. Today he admitted to my family that he has been getting drunk from Listerine!

Wow. I can’t believe I am not the most pathetic lady on earth. I started heavily drinking when I was 16. My alcoholism has went down fast. Blackouts and mouthwash and all. I’m 20 now and have been to nine treatment centers and have had several hospitalizations. I’m surprised I’m still alive. I can’t get this licked. I always want Sobriety bad when I want it and it’s all over with when I don’t. I’m scared. But never scared enough. What will it take?! :(

Hi, my name is Richard, and I am a recovering alcoholic.
My drinking problem lasted several weeks in July 2009. One beer led to two, two beers led to five, and five beers led to hard liquor. I was lucky enough to have had an incident happen in my then-workplace, as sort of a “wake up call”. Almost losing my job was enough of a rock bottom to get me to stop drinking.
I fell off of the wagon at a Halloween house party in October 31 2009, but once again, I got sober. As of today I have 18 months of sobriety.
Still, I struggle with my problem every day. Especially since the love of my life cut off all contact with me in August 2009, and then I lost my previous job in April 2010 and no one would hire me until January 2011. Sometimes I feel like not going out to bars and clubs to meet people, because I’m worried that I’m gonna take a drink. Sometimes I feel like I can’t even leave my apartment until after the liquor store closes, because I’m afraid that I’m going to go there and buy liquor.
Now, after reading this story, I’m wondering if it’s even safe for me to set foot in any store that sells mouthwash ever again. Reading all of these stories about people drinking mouthwash, and seeing that some people actually get away with drinking mouthwash without serious illness or death, it’s making me want to try it.
Part of me knows it would destroy my life, but part of me really wants to have that feeling of intoxication from 2 summers ago again. I probably should go back to AA and talk to someone about this.

My brother is 50 years old and has started on Listorine mixed with diet coke. He has all but quit society and walks to every bar in town after his routine bottle of Listorine in the morning. Though a very mean drunk when he is sober he is a great guy. He had the world wrapped around his finger at one point in his life and I looked up to him everyday growing up. He had a wonderful wife and two great kiddos. He lives with my parents now and I call them on a regular basis. It is horror story after horror story about how bad he has been getting. Listorine bottles all over the house.
It saddens me to see him in so much pain. When I go back to visit he holds my hand, cries, and tells he me is going to fight this. He is embarrassed of what he has become. My message to him is that I love him. He is family and always will be. I don’t know if he will die soon or live a long time. I do know he does not care. It hurts to watch him but mainly it hurts to see his two great kids not having a father.
I am 38 and have a bad Liver. However, I don’t drink. I never could stand the taste of alcohol. The docs don’t really know why my liver is so bad. The one positive is that I don’t drink so I would be able to get on the transplant list I think. I am scared every day that I could die and not ever see my beautiful kids ever again. They are my life and they would be so sad to lose their dad. I guess I am also upset with my brother because of this. He is healthy and trying to kill himself through alcohol. How does someone do this to their family?!
I just don’t know. I will always be here for help though. I love you brother and hope you find the strength to quit.

I’ve been through hell with alcoholism. I went to 6 different rehabs etc. and I heard in treatment of people drinking cologne and mouthwash. I could not believe people would sink so low! I only drank MILLER LITE!
But I remember hearing that my Grandpa was an alcoholic also, and his bathroom always smelled of Listerine. I never put 2 and 2 together till I started doing the same.

I had written earlier in March of this year regarding my 28 year old son. Here we are, 6 months later and we’re no better off than we were before.
Some facts: he’s 29, an alcoholic who drinks and abuses Listerine! He’s been in Detox treatment 4 times in the past year. He’s had 2 seizures that ended with him going to the hospital in an ambulance. He’s now on a list for a 3 week stay at a government run treatment centre, but still he continues to drink.
He says he wants help, but we don’t think he really does. My husband and I just don’t know what to do anymore. He doesn’t have a job, any friends and lost his girlfriend of 13 years all due to drinking. I’m afraid he’s going to end up dead from all this abuse with the Listerine. He is very verbally abusive to us when he is “drunk”, he also lies and steals. Any suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks!

I just realized last week that my partner has been drinking mouthwash for about a month now, that i know of. We’ve been together 4 1/2 yrs and she’s been an admitted alcoholic for a year. But she’s had drinking issues, on and off, pretty much our entire time together. She has a chemical imbalance and alcohol to her is literally and figuratively poison. So the alcohol content in mouthwash, even a small trial size, has the same effect as if she had drank an airline bottle of vodka.
Violent and belligerent doesn’t even begin to describe it. So needless to say I’m at my wits end. I love her, but i don’t know how to help her anymore. She needs to want to help herself. She doesn’t have insurance so it makes it harder to find treatment. Anyway thank you all for your posts and any pertinent info you could throw my way I’d appreciate it.

My Mom is 72 and has been an active alcoholic for most of her adult life and all but maybe 6 years of mine. I am her adult daughter and I’m the one who has tried to rescue her many times. It took me many years to realize she had to help herself and I had to let go of my need to rescue. My Dad (her husband) feel ill this past March, he was 89. His goal was to make it to his 90th birthday (which he did). He was Mom’s caretaker and enabler. My brothers and I got to the point that we stayed away because we knew the toxicity of not only their relationship, but my Mom’s addictions.
While we were taking care of Dad I noticed that Mom refused to participate. She became more and more despondent. She would sit with him during the day at the nursing home rehab facility and hospital, then leave and go home to consume an entire liter of generic brand mouthwash combined with prescription meds just to get her through the night. My dad finally passed away on June 18th.
Prior to his passing I pleaded with my Mom to get help so she would have a support system to deal with not only her addiction but also the grief of losing her husband of more than 50 years. She refused (and even lied about going back to AA). So, here we are several months later and my Mom is on a downward spiral. She has fallen several times during her bouts of drinking (mouthwash) and drugging (prescription meds) and is refusing any type of help we offer.
I can’t say this wasn’t expected, but it hurts me deeply to see someone I love slowly kill themselves. Her mind is going and she has constant bouts of vomiting and diarrhea that she goes to the doctor for. I’m going with her to the doctor today to show them the list of meds I inventoried from her home that all have labels indicating “May cause dizziness” and “Effects may be intensified with alcohol use”. I’m not sure if this will do any good, but I want the doctor to address with my Mom the damage she is doing to herself.
In addition, I want the doctor to understand the dangerous meds he prescribed to an active alcoholic. Again, not sure if this will do any good, but I think its important that she’s aware of what this is doing to her health. And, I want to put the doctor on notice.
For those of you who are alcoholics please understand what your behavior is doing to those who love you and please seek help. For those with loved ones who are alcoholics please know that you cannot rescue them. Instead, love them and let go of the need to change them. They must be able to do it on their own in order for recovery to work.
God Bless!

I have been struggling with alcohol for 10 years. It has just gotten progressively worse. I lost my license and respect of my family. They all think I have sobered up. I am on probation for this DWI, I go to AA meetings and have an interlock device in my car. Most days I am fine but I will drink Listerine occasionally. One LARGE bottle will get me through 3 or 4 nights, then I get disgusted and leave it be for a few weeks. I black out and I wondered what the heck it does to my insides and now I know. It is poison and we all know this but keep using. Vodka is less damaging but I am too afraid someone I know will see me going into the liquor store. I had no idea that drinking this stuff was so vast. The way I found out about it was, believe it or not, from the show Intervention. Leslie. Take care, Gwen

Hi all. Thank you for this. I am a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for almost a year until now. I was in a very stressful job, went through a divorce, lost my license etc.. I’m in advertising in NYC so very stressful.
I was drinking a little too much 1.5 years ago and knew it, so started going to AA. All of a sudden my secretary gets a call from my wife for my secretary to tell me she wants a divorce. Then my company put me on disability for a year which was great. I sent my now ex wife the Louis Wilson story and said “stand by me” but nothing. She still has not sat down with me to say goodbye, we just got divorced in court – very hurtful.
Anyway, I took the year, my company was cool and re-evaluated my options … I didn’t want to go back to the stress of my previous job. So took leave because of the stress of the divorce. I got my act together and got sober and just (two weeks ago) went to another job for a change. Guess what. More stressful than the last.
I’ve been fine for a year, but Thursday night after my team left to travel back to NYC I relapsed. I stopped for a day, but don’t have my license so just had a friend take me to CVS to get a GERD perscription and I got Listerine and have had a few gulps.
Your support would be lovely. Russ.

Alcohol addiction is a PHYSICAL disease. AA is like treating diabetes with talk therapy. Pick up the book “7 weeks to sobriety” by Joan Larson it covers putting back in the body what alcohol has stolen.

First off I’d like to say the majority of these comments come across very sincere and hit home with me in many ways. I’m 23 year old from nb Canada. Been in three rehabs for ritalin and coke then iv oxys and heroin and finally Ritalin and alcohol. And I must say alcohol is the hardest I’ve encountered. More so then heroin, which is a strange but true reality.
Funny I never had a prob with it until the last two years. Anyways I drink listerine sometimes when I’m out of alcohol and the stores closed. I come from a well off family who when pressured will buy me my vodka. Yet I still drink mouthwash. Go figure. Alcoholism is a disease and it is chronic. This is my first time posting online but I liked this thread a lot and feel its genuine. Any tips on getting off the booze would be appreciated. I often get close but panic at the thought of not drinking and the panic is my excuse to buy a bottle. Its bad cuz I know this but still drink. Cunning and baffling it is.

I have been married to my husband for two years. We began our relationship by drinking entire bottles of liquor together. It wasn’t until months into dating that I realized he had a drinking problem… but he would quit and then things would be fine for months. Then it would start again because of depression or stress (which are the main triggers) I won’t get into any specifics about how bad it has gotten but needless to say I have considered taking my own life because of his behavior.
Today, I caught him drinking mouthwash. THAT is a low. I’m shocked. But suffice to say, you cannot make him better. He is the only one who can make that decision. My husband and I have been together nearly five years and he is still struggling with it. But it’s something we work at everyday. And when he wakes up tomorrow, we’ll work on it and talk even if he doesn’t want to or doesn’t want to hear what I have to say. Ask him to seek help. BEG him.
He won’t listen at first, he’ll deny he has a problem, say he’s fine and that you’re exaggerating. Keep at it. Keep trying. At all costs keep trying. Tell him he’s hurt you, he’s hurt himself. Make him look at the testimonials here on the website. There is nothing that you can say or do that is wrong if it is said with love and concern. Don’t give up without a fight.

I have been drinking mouthwash also. It was because I was embarrassed by my addiction and did not want to disappoint my family. I do feel that constant assaults on me may drive me to drink more. I have since gone back to drinking beer, but the assaults only increased. This is a disease and is not an easy fix, so I too recommend not accusing the subject too often. I am making progress, but I wanted to make sure that you heard from the other side.

Hi there,
I’m so sorry to hear about your son. 6 months ago, I found out that my partner has been drinking Listerine. I found about 12 empty large bottles in the trash. She has been drinking it on a regular basis. I found out from her that this has been going on for a year.
First thing to remember: your son is absolutely ashamed of himself and he must be aware how terrible it is to drink Listerine. He is embarrassed to admit this and he doesn’t want to disappoint you. Unfortunately, he can only help himself and all the arguments, snooping in his room for bottles and interrogations will not make him stop – in fact it may make him drink more. This has been my experience.
Your son is in serious danger and he needs to go to rehab. You need to show him love and support. Tell him you love him and that you are worried about him. Tell him not to be ashamed. Let him know you are there for him. Then, gently find a way to offer him the opportunity to get help. It sounds like he needs an intensive inpatient treatment for at least 30 days and a detox.
Good luck and hugs!

My son is 28 and is an alcoholic. He’s been to treatment centres and has told us that he’s off alcohol. He does have very bad teeth so when he was constantly buying Listerine, I just assumed it was for his mouth. Last night, my husband and I decided to check his room and we found over 30 large empty bottles of Listerine hidden in the mess of his room.
I just know he’s drinking it. He’s had terrible red eyes lately (which he blames on the dogs and his allergies) He’s in bed a lot and sleeping quite a bit. He’s a very angry young man and very volatile at times. Flies off the handle for no reason. He constantly suffers headaches and last week had the “flu.”
We confronted him last night when he got home but of course denied everything. I just don’t know what to do. He’s refusing to go to treatment again. HELP!!!

Forget you liver when drinking Listerine. Your kidneys will fail first. It’s an excruciating death.

Those were very inspiring words my friend. I hope they reach many addicts.

I don’t know what to do. I had a feeling that my husband of a year had some alcoholic tendencies but today when I got home I caught him on the couch passed out and a brandy glass full of mouthwash next to the couch… we got in a huge fight and he denies it.. I know he is stressed but I am so worried about him and have no idea what to believe…. I need help… anyone!! I feel so alone, we’re coming up to our year wedding anniversary and feel so alone.

Boy, does all this sound familiar! I developed a drinking problem back in 2003 partly due to a failed marriage and terrible, horrible self-esteem. It started with red wine… just a glass or two at night to relax. Within a few months 2 glasses a night became a 5-liter box every 2 days. After a couple of years, I started on Vodka. In 2007 I was so bad… I weighed 84 pounds, and alcohol had caused severe edema because my liver was messed up.
I felt like dying all the time. My family finally intervened and I quit for a whole year. Then in January, 2008, while under extreme stress from divorce and other issues, I figured one little bottle of vodka wouldn’t send me over the edge again. WHAT A LIE! I lied to myself more convincingly than I could ever lie to others. Well, family intervened again, thank God, and I did so well for awhile. Then in March, 2009 I had the idea of drinking mouthwash for a buzz.
I was curious if what I’d heard was true. It was cheap, already in the house, and inconspicuous to keep around and to buy. I drank about 2 cups of it and WHEW!
So I kept doing it until May of 2009…not all the time but just once in a while. The last time I did it I had a total blackout. I have no idea how I even drove my car! That scared me because I never drank and drove in my life. I gave up my license when I was a constant drinker. My adult kids were telling me things I said and did that I have no recollection of, and they knew I had to have been on something. They accused me of doing crack. I have NEVER done ANY drug in my life! I never told them I drank mouthwash, so they assumed it was vodka.
They were so upset with me! That last time, I got terribly sick…sicker than I have ever been in my life! It was worse than morning sickness, stomach flu, vertigo, and food poisoning put together. That was the last time and I am happy to say I’m SOBER!
I really do not have any desire to drink anything now. I’m in college, at age 43, and I’m enjoying life. Most importantly, I have my children back in my life, and I have their respect once again!
I hope this testimony helps someone. SEEK HELP! Family, friends, clergy, professionals…ANYBODY! FREE help is out there! It only takes KNOWING you are sick with the disease of alcoholism, CONFESSING it, and then setting your mind and soul on GETTING WELL!

My sister is 31 and is an alcoholic. She has been to two rehab facilities within the last year. My parents and I have been very supportive, payed her bills, and she has lived with both of us. We put rules in place and she has done the opposite. She did finally get a job and the about two weeks ago on the weekends she would just sleep all weekend.
I couldn’t find any alcohol and we bought a BAC detector and it would read off the charts. She would say she wasn’t drinking and she would have this wild eyed drunk look. Well I saw a huge bottle of Listerine in her bathroom yesterday and today it is gone. She always smells of it and it broke my heart when I had the realization that this is what shes doing. A strain has been put on my relationship with my husband since she has moved in and I am just beside myself with what to do.
I love her and don’t want to have to have her living on the streets but I also don’t even know her anymore. If anyone has any advice I would love to hear it.

I am very scared after reading many of these comments. My girlfriend was diagnosed with Cirrhosis about 5 years go. She completely quit drinking cold turkey and has stayed amazingly sober since which has contributed to her health getting better. A few weeks ago, I was emptying our recycling bin and I took out a large empty bottle of mouthwash. I thought it was strange because I had never seen it in our bathroom before. I just assumed it was a personal bottle that she kept hidden from me so I wouldn’t use it all.
However, I then found another one, and another, and more – until I found around 15 of these bottles – all empty! I was totally freaked out and I asked her about it but she skirted around the issue. I honestly convinced myself that she must be super-paranoid about her breath and that she was embarrassed to admit it (her breath is fine, by the way).
Yesterday I found 2 more bottles. Tonight, I noticed she was acting strange and, now that I am thinking more about it, she was acting drunk. Now that I am reading these comments I am realizing that there is a good chance that she is drinking this mouthwash.
Oh my god, I hope that is not the case. She has been sober for 5 years and I do not want to go through the experience of living with her drinking again. Those years were the worst.
She is away on business until Tuesday and I’m really worried about her. I’m afraid if I call her and ask her about this, she is going to get really defensive, more stressed out and she’ll end up drinking! I can’t believe this may be happening.

but is it MORE harmful than drinking a similar amount of – say – bourbon or tequila?…because there are ingredients like Benzoic Acid and Eucalyptus, etc. in Listerene. cos when i drink it, i feel lingering affects like gastric disturbances and swelling in the ankles, blisters and chancres and so on that aren’t there with bourbon.

My father has been an alcoholic for over ten years now. Within the past year he has been hospitalized three times for pancreatitis because of his drinking. When he leaves the hospital he is sober and looks healthy and within a few months he’s drinking again. The worst part is that he drinks mouthwash, I find empty bottles everywhere including his car, which means he drinks at work. When he drinks it his eyes become red and his cognitive skills are terrible, he hardly makes any sense and slurs all his words.
His memory now is bad and I feel the mouthwash and alcohol is killing his brain. The doctor tells him he will die from Alcohol, pancreatitis is a deadly condition… but does he seek help, NOPE. I’ve tried everything and he just won’t listen and is denial and so stubborn. I’m afraid of losing him like so many of you have lost loved ones because of this disease. I wish I knew what to do before it’s too late.

I am so happy I found this page. I had always heard of people drinking mouthwash but it wasn’t real for me until last Monday when I got a call from a hospital letting me know my 65 year old father had stuck an 8 inch knife in his chest. I then learn from his friend that they found over 10 big empty bottles of mouthwash in his house among the blood and horror from him attempted suicide. He had went through recover 12 years ago after drinking for over 35 years and has struggled with it constantly.
In the past 3 years he had shown signs of depression and had even made comment or “threats” of suicide but this was a new thing and it seemed like something he wouldn’t do. I am across the country from him so over the phone it is hard to really know whats going on there. So now he is in the hospital and had surgery to repair the stab wound. I found out this morning he has pneumonia and may have possible brain damage….If you know someone who is drinking mouthwash call the hospital immediately.
If you have an aging parent or grandparent that lives alone and starts acting depressed seek them some help…be there for them..even if they tell you they are okay..make sure they are.

I am a recovering alcoholic and have been sober for almost three years. I used to drink mouthwash when I couldn’t get to the liquor store, I would drink so much that I would usually blackout, and eventually had bleeding in my stomach, it was the worst time in my life, now when I look at a bottle of Listerine it makes my stomach turn over. I know first-hand how terrifying alcoholism can be, and how incredibly powerful the disease is. My life is filled with hope now, life is beautiful. But when I look back on that person that I was, sometimes it is hard to breathe.

Thank you as I have watched my husband suck down several bottles of Listerine or store brand- He doesn’t get as drunk so he doesn’t seem as drunk- but I am at a loss for wrods- He can afford alcohol and his family will not step in- hows that for a family pathology- so I will ask you guys and thank you for your comments. This is out of control! and I will get him help. Alanon for anyone that has a loved one is so helpful in keeping my self grounded when the world is spinning around me at home. I have grown to hate coming home and want to disappear alot- so thank you! Pls continue to post and write me – when everyone flakes out- its strangers that have pulled me thru.

I am thankful for the grace of my Higher Power, treatment and A.A. that I was able to stop drinking that stuff. I would buy the generic brand at a dollar store or a jumbo size at wmart for $3.00 alcohol content of 26.9 % it was tearing up my insides and affecting my brain.

I was sent this information with all the postings. I found it informative and eye-opening. My sister-in-law sent it to me because she cares. A lot of people do but don’t have the tact to say it in a way that makes me believe them. I am an alcoholic and have known that for years. I too have drank more than my share of Listerine and other store brand antiseptic mouthwashes, usually only the gold kind because the other kinds contain Sorbitol which will give you the runs big time. I went to a treatment center three years ago, and told my counselor about my drinking mouthwash, and he said it also causes brain damage, which I thought about when I read about the dude with dementia.
I am only 43 yrs. old, and don’t want to die young or end up in jail again, mental institution, or other long term facility. I have recently attained injuries that I cannot remember acquiring. I recently made a decision though to quit drinking and going to a long term treatment center. I need it. For those of you who know how, please pray for me.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ??.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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???

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.

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.

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 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.

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.


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.

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.

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