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Drinking Rubbing Alcohol Danger & Serious Side Effects

The systems within the body are now out of balance and become hyperactive as it tries to learn how to manage life without alcohol again. The severity of withdrawal can vary, depending on a range of factors. However, most of the time, there is a basic timeline that alcohol withdrawal follows. Alcohol addiction treatment can be outpatient, simply involving visits to doctors and therapy for treatment. It can also be inpatient, involving actually living in a rehab facility for a few weeks. Inpatient rehab is a more intensive method of treatment but provides a better chance of recovery.

A poison control specialist should be able to help remove the substance and treat the issue if it is brought to them in time. Most importantly, drinking as little as 8 ounces can be toxic because isopropyl alcohol is metabolized in the body differently and is more toxic. Low volumes of alcohol, such as those how to stop drinking alcohol without aa or rehab made for human consumption, are metabolized into ethanol in the body. However, rubbing alcohol contains a level of alcohol that is toxic to the human body. For example, beer contains 3-10% alcohol and wine liquor contains 40% alcohol. Rubbing alcohol, on the other hand, is usually at least 70% alcohol.

There are no shortcuts in this process and through endless support, we provide intensive care on your journey to recovery. For instance, a 16-ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol costs a little over a dollar and can be purchased at any 24-hour drug store. Rubbing alcohol is also significantly more potent and is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that side effects like sedation and relaxation will not only be more intense, but they’ll also kick in quicker. When you know what happens when you drink rubbing alcohol, the question then becomes, why? Why would someone do that when there are other relatively safer alternatives available?


Drinking rubbing alcohol can actually be very dangerous and quickly lead to alcohol poisoning. In many cases, these products are not the first choice for someone addicted to alcohol. Some people may resort to drinking rubbing alcohol if they don’t have access to an alcoholic beverage. Products like rubbing alcohol are also cheaper to buy than alcoholic beverages and can result in intoxication in smaller amounts. If someone is experiencing negative symptoms after drinking rubbing alcohol, poison control or will likely recommend seeking immediate medical attention.

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.

Methyl alcohol, methanol and wood alcohol—named because it was once produced as a byproduct of the destructive distillation of wood—are all the same type of alcohol. It’s colorless, flammable, smells strong and can be absorbed through the eyes, skin, lungs and digestive system. Symptoms of ingesting the substance include difficulty breathing, blurred vision or blindness , low blood pressure, fatigue, and damage to the nervous system, stomach and intestines. A couple of tablespoons is enough to kill a child who gets into a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and a few ounces can be fatal in an adult. Even if the interactive association between sodium intake is not fatal, it can lead to permanent brain damage or damage to your other organs.

Addiction Treatment Programs at The Ranch PA

From cognitive-behavioral therapy to aftercare services, we provide all the resources our clients need to recover from addiction and learn how to live sober lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with heavy drinking, even something as toxic as rubbing alcohol can become a temptation. Our Palm Springs, California drug rehab offers alcohol treatment among a variety of other addiction services that help patients recover from the physical and mental impact of substance abuse.

  • If a person drinks even a small amount and has any of the above-mentioned side effects, call 911—medical attention is necessaryimmediately.
  • It is also poisonous to adults, who sometimes substitute rubbing alcohol for drinking alcohol.
  • In fact, your kidneys remove approximately 20 to 50 percent of ISO from your body.
  • A person may experience anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
  • If the chemical is on your skin or eyes, rinse the area with water for 15 minutes.

When an alcoholic does try to stop drinking, he or she may be met with intense cravings that ultimately encourage them to drink over-the-counter substances in a desperate attempt to get drunk. One substance that alcoholics may turn to is rubbing alcohol . In contrast, store-bought rubbing alcohol is 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, or 140-proof when measured in ethanol terms. It’s metabolized differently, causing the body to become overwhelmed by the toxins. Most of the rubbing alcohol a person drinks will be absorbed in the body within 30 minutes of drinking.

Drinking Rubbing Alcohol: Is It Dangerous & Will It Kill You?

Research shows that nearly 80% of rubbing alcohol that’s consumed is absorbed into the bloodstream within 30 minutes of ingestion.1 For someone who suffers from alcohol addiction, this is enticing. Alcohol treatment center in Mahanoy City, PA, Silver Pines Treatment Center can help. Our specialized treatment services have helped countless people in the area get the support they need to overcome alcoholism and live their life. Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques.

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.

Unlike ethanol, rubbing alcohol and other products containing isopropyl are considered unsafe for drinking. Drinking isopropyl can lead to the rapid absorption of the substance in the body, leading to quick and toxic effects. Due to differences in chemical makeup, however, isopropyl is not metabolized as quickly or as efficiently as ethanol. Through the metabolizing process, the body breaks down isopropyl into formate, carbon dioxide, and acetone, a toxic chemical found in nail polish. While ethanol, or drinking alcohol, is broken down into a substance called acetaldehyde, nearly 20 percent of isopropyl is metabolized into acetone, the toxic chemical found in nail polish remover. Acetone is a central nervous system depressant, and large amounts of acetone can cause damage to the liver, kidneys and nerves.

How Dangerous Is It to Consume Rubbing Alcohol?

Drinking rubbing alcohol, no matter how much or how little, is never a good idea. If you or someone you know has resorted to rubbing alcohol, whether due to a lack of access to real alcohol or in an attempt to quit drinking, it is time to find an alcohol detox program near you. Rubbing alcohol is not intended for human consumption under any circumstances. If you do attempt to get drunk on rubbing alcohol, beware you will likely blackout and there is a good chance you will suffer alcohol poisoning. Drinking even a small amount of rubbing alcohol may be able to make you feel the effects of intoxication, however, the risks usually are not worth it. Since rubbing alcohol contains such a high level of alcohol, most people will drink too much too quickly and end up damaging their body or getting sick rather than actually feeling drunk.

drinking rubbing alcohol

It also burns the sensitive tissues in the throat and airway, leading to severe pain. In larger doses, swelling also occurs, as can seizures, a dangerous drop in blood pressure, and heart attack. These changes take place within an hour after drinking rubbing alcohol.

The mood and mind-altering substance contained in beverages like beer, wine, and liquor is ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that, when abused, can lead to physical dependence and addiction. People who struggle with alcoholism will often go to any lengths necessary to maintain their addiction and avoid going into withdrawal.

Your body converts the isopropyl alcohol into acetone, the smelly and toxic chemical found in nail polish remover. Acetone can lead to many dangerous symptoms, suppressing your brain activity and potentially having fatal effects. Although it has the word alcohol in its name, rubbing alcohol is completely different from the ethyl alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.

Consuming rubbing alcohol can lead to dangerous side effects, bodily harm and alcohol poisoning. If you or a loved one has ever considered drinking rubbing alcohol because of an alcohol addiction or alcohol dependency, please seek treatment. The travel-size bottles can be deceptive to those who may have alcohol use disorder.

drinking rubbing alcohol

The most common symptoms from a small, unintentional ingestion may include nausea, vomiting, or stomach upset. It is also poisonous to adults, who sometimes substitute rubbing alcohol for drinking alcohol. In addition, because it is flammable, it should always be kept away from open flame. It is much stronger alcohol and cancer risk fact sheet than ethanol which is found in most common alcoholic beverages. Rubbing alcohol is generally much cheaper and can be bought easily at any drug or grocery store. Because rubbing alcohol is significantly more powerful than ethanol and absorbs into the circulation much faster it is commonly abused.

Avoid inducing vomiting, as this can lead to further injury and is not likely to help. You can call Poison Control; however, do not do this instead of calling 911, as this can delay care. Another troubling way people get isopropanol poisoning is by drinking hand sanitizer, which usually contains either ethanol or isopropanol as its active ingredient. Teens and preteens, in particular, have been drawn to abusing hand sanitizer because it’s cheap and readily available.


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