Rubbing alcohol is processed differently than ethanol due to its chemical structure, leading the body to become overwhelmed by toxins. Rubbing alcohol is essentially converted down into acetone, a hazardous molecule found in nail polish remover. Just over one pint of rubbing alcohol is equivalent to approximately 30 beers. Rubbing alcohol is a cheap and commonly available chemical used as a disinfectant. Because this sanitizing agent contains alcohol, some people wonder if it could be safe to drink or if it can cause serious health problems.

The higher percentage of alcohol in it intoxicates the body at a level too high to process. Unlike the lower percentages of ethanol in alcoholic beverages, rubbing alcohol’s levels are very dangerous. Rubbing alcohol is made to kill microorganisms and disinfect wounds. Isopropyl alcohol is as clear as water, but has a strong odor similar to acetone. Denatured alcohol can be clear or colored with dyes and is usually a mix of ethyl alcohol and other toxic chemicals, most commonly the extremely toxic methanol .

drinking rubbing alcohol

For a person with alcohol addiction, 8 ounces isn’t much, and it’s certainly far less alcohol than they normally drink. Again, although many cases of rubbing alcohol poisoning are reported in children and adolescents, they also occur in people who drink rubbing alcohol to get drunk or harm themselves. Therefore, it’s important to keep rubbing alcohol out of children’s and adolescent’s grasps and to watch out for any misuse of rubbing alcohol in your home. Even though isopropyl alcohol is found in common items that are found around the house, it will require immediate medical attention if consumed. It is much more toxic than ethyl alcohol, or alcohol that is designed for drinking, even when consumed in very small amounts. Most people who drink rubbing alcohol know that it is not recommended, but they may not know all of the dangers that may come with consuming high volumes of isopropyl alcohol.

Can You Drink Rubbing Alcohol?

However, the other 20% intentionally drink rubbing alcohol because it is cheaper than ethanol . People also choose to consume it because it is so much stronger than ethanol, allowing them to “drink less alcohol”. But they’re actually consuming more alcohol in a smaller package.

What happens if you drink alcohol rubbing alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol is very dangerous to consume at any quantity. Massive ingestion is especially risky and can cause depressed cardiovascular function, internal bleeding, organ damage, shock, and even death.

They are different to the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages . Some people might intentionally ingest ISO to experience its intoxicating effects or harm themselves. But most cases of ISO poisoning are accidental and occur in children under the age of 6. The latter is partly due to children’s tendency to put things in their mouths.

We invite you to contact us to learn how you or your loved one can join the many success stories of people we have helped overcome addiction. It can be used as an alcohol-based sanitizer that substitutes for soap and water if the hands are not visibly grimy. Isopropyl alcohol gained more widespread use during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people became more conscious about the risk of spreading infections. Rubbing alcohol can also be used as a solvent or as antifreeze. Treatment for addiction takes many forms and depends on the needs of the individual.

How Dangerous Is It to Consume Rubbing Alcohol?

According to NCBI,80% of rubbing alcoholis absorbed into the bloodstream within 30 minutes, so the effects happen quickly, and the dangers appear with little warning. Even if instant death does not occur, repeated usage will cause alcohol withdrawal scale aws many of the irreparable damages mentioned above, even if a person is careful. While it may have some similarities to alcohol chemically, it’s not achieved through the sugar fermentation and distillation process used in beverages.

Ingestion of rubbing alcohol is the second most common kind of alcohol poisoning and the most toxic. Most cases of poisoning are accidental, but some people drink it as a substitute for ethanol . Rubbing alcohol is not a substitute for an alcoholic beverage. It comes in various strengths that range from 50% to 90% isopropyl alcohol and is best known for its disinfecting powers. Isopropanol is a clear, colorless liquid that smells slightly fruity and has a bitter taste, and it’s the main ingredient in rubbing alcohol.

What happens if you swallow a small amount of rubbing alcohol?

Consuming even small amounts of rubbing alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol, can make a person very ill. Isopropyl alcohol is twice as toxic as ethanol, the form of alcohol contained in alcoholic beverages, and drinking it can result in severe depression of the central nervous system, internal bleeding and even death.

Ethyl alcohol is the specific type of alcohol used for drinking, and every other type of alcohol is considered unsafe to ingest. Isopropyl alcohol can be very toxic, and fatalities have occurred after drinking as little as eight ounces — the equivalent of ⅔ of a can of beer. The next risk is the potency of isopropyl alcohol, which is much higher than ethanol. Isopropanol alcohol is typically about 70 percent alcohol by volume. It’s so high that your liver can only process a small amount, about 200 milliliters for adults and much less for children. One problem is that the body absorbs this alcohol faster than the alcohol in liquor.

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Overcome your addiction today with the help of one of the best addiction rehab centers in the U.S. Always keep rubbing alcohol stored up and out of reach of children. Under no circumstances is rubbing alcohol intended for consumption. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has addiction and mental health facilities in 8 States throughout the United States.

  • It is colorless, flammable and has a very strong odor of alcohol.
  • ISO poisoning occurs when your liver can no longer manage the amount of ISO in your body.
  • The ambulance was called and the child was taken to the emergency room.
  • In larger doses, swelling also occurs, as can seizures, a dangerous drop in blood pressure, and heart attack.

If the chemical is on your skin or eyes, rinse the area with water for 15 minutes. Your doctor will perform a physical exam so they can check your vital signs and look for signs of ISO exposure, like skin damage. After putting special lenses in the child's eyes, the physician irrigated them with normal saline solution. During this uncomfortable procedure, the child became very agitated and irritable. Over the next 2 hours, he became alert and was discharged home.

The Difference Between Isopropyl Alcohol and Regular Alcohol

Someone with isopropyl alcohol poisoning may need their stomach pumped and/or dialysis to remove the remaining alcohol and the acetone from their blood. Drinking rubbing alcohol will also make you very dehydrated, so IV fluids are necessary. Oxygen therapy will help to remove the acetone from the lungs, as well. Alcohol poisoning is very serious and increased intoxication is not worth the risk.

The term “rubbing alcohol”, used in the context of a medical disinfectant, can mean either of these two forms of alcohol, but is more often isopropanol in the US. If you accidentally or intentionally drank rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer, you should call 911 now. If you have considered drinking or have been drinking non-drinkable alcohol for any reason, you may have an alcohol use disorder. Because you no longer have control over how, when, where, and what you drink, you need compassionate and effective treatment to overcome this condition and begin restoring your health and life. Isopropyl alcohol is different from the alcohol found in liquor, beer and wine. Rubbing alcohol is sometimes abused, even though it is not meant to be swallowed.

Chronic alcohol use disorder can be very dangerous during the detox period, so its recommended to go through this process at a treatment center. Someone considering using isopropyl alcohol to get drunk likely has an alcohol addiction that warrants professional treatment. The first is detox, in which the body goes through withdrawal and adjusts to the absence of alcohol. The second is rehab, where the person recovering from addiction learns new coping strategies and is empowered to live a life free from addiction. If you see some or all of these signs in someone else or experience them yourself, you need to get medical help immediately.

When Poison Control was called, the child was drowsy and stumbling. His eyes were very red and irritated; he was do i have a drinking problem rubbing them vigorously and screaming. The ambulance was called and the child was taken to the emergency room.

Can you drink a sip of rubbing alcohol?

Ingesting only eight ounces of rubbing alcohol can kill you. If a person drinks even a small amount and has any of the above-mentioned side effects, call 911—medical attention is necessary immediately. Do not induce vomiting. The caustic nature of rubbing alcohol can cause chemical burns to the esophagus.

Dukakis, who struggled with an alcohol addiction and an addiction to diet pills, had a severe reaction to the rubbing alcohol she drank and was hospitalized. Alcohol use disorderis a brain disorderthat impacts someone’s ability to stop drinking even though they can see terrible effects in their life. In the US, an estimated 15 million adults suffer from this medical diagnosis.

Because they no longer have control over how, when, and how much they drink, they end up drinking dangerous levels of alcohol. When that runs out, they may turn to non-drinkable alcohols like isopropyl rubbing alcohol, which is especially dangerous. If a person drinks even the smallest amount of rubbing alcohol, call right away. Do not induce vomiting, as isopropyl alcohol can cause chemical burns in the esophagus.

As such, we provide the staff, resources, and programs that promote lifelong relapse prevention. Isopropyl is toxic to drink and can result in moderate to severe side effects. Drinking large amounts can have dangerous consequences, including death.

Side effects can occur within a couple of hours of drinking and may last up to 24 hours. More serious harm to internal organs, or other serious side effects such as coma, may last longer. As a former journalist and a registered nurse, Amy draws on her clinical experience, compassion and storytelling skills to provide insight into the disease of addiction and treatment options. She previously participated in Moffitt Cancer Center’s patient and family advisory program and was a speaker at the Institute of Patient-and Family-Centered Care’s 2015 national conference. Staff at poison control centers can also answer questions about the risks of mixing alcohol with other substances, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and street drugs.

drinking rubbing alcohol

In accordance with the American Society of Addiction Medicine, we offer information on outcome-oriented treatment that adheres to an established continuum of care. In this section, you will find information and resources related to evidence-based treatment models, counseling and therapy and payment and insurance options. Learn how ricin poisoning occurs, the signs and symptoms of poisoning, and what to do if you're exposed. Most incidents of chlorine poisoning result from ingesting household cleaners. The symptoms of ISO poisoning vary by the type and extent of poisoning. Rubbing Alcohol is used in homes, workplaces, and medical facilities as a disinfectant for cleaning surfaces and wounds.

NCBI points out that around 80% of rubbing alcohol consumption incidents appear to be accidents. Rubbing alcohol looks like water and smells similar to liquor, although much more potent. If someone drinks quickly without thinking, they could consume rubbing alcohol in error, especially if they are already intoxicated.