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What Happens if You Drink Rubbing Alcohol?

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy. But don’t do this if you have symptoms that make it difficult to swallow, like throat pain or decreased alertness. ISO is a main ingredient in many household cleaning supplies that young children might stumble across, so it’s best to ensure these products are kept out of reach. To put things into perspective, ISO is more toxic than ethanol but less toxic than many other toxic alcohols, including ethylene glycol and methanol.

drinking rubbing alcohol

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.

Risks of Drinking 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 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.

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.

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.

Why Would Someone Drink Rubbing Alcohol?

Unless a health professional or poison control specialist has directed you to do so, do not make the person with isopropyl poisoning vomit. If the person is having difficulty or pain swallowing, do not give them anything to drink. Drinking rubbing alcohol while pregnant can also have toxic effects in the womb.

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.

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


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.

Our bodies can safely filter out between 20 and 50 percent of the IPA, with the rest converting to acetone. This substance gets filtered out of your system through your lungs and kidneys. However, ingesting too much can overwhelm your body’s ability to process it and lead to alcohol poisoning. When someone accidentally mistakes rubbing for drinking alcohol, they often stop themselves before they can ingest too much to cause lasting damage. However, people who choose to drink it run a much greater risk of overdosing and experiencing negative side effects.

  • However, we can inform ourselves and our loved ones of the risks.
  • It’s metabolized differently, causing the body to become overwhelmed by the toxins.
  • He likely would not have survived if he had not already been in a treatment facility since his blood-alcohol level reached nearly three percent.
  • The most common is detoxification, which is the process of removing toxins from the body.
  • 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.

When Poison Control was called, the child was drowsy and stumbling. His eyes were very red and irritated; he was lamictal and alcohol rubbing them vigorously and screaming. The ambulance was called and the child was taken to the emergency room.

Ingesting or inhaling rubbing alcohol can quickly lead to alcohol poisoning—even death

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.

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.

Individuals with chronic alcohol use disorder, however, probably aren’t thinking about those poison awareness stickers. The side effects of rubbing alcohol poisoning mirror those of a drunk person, however, it’snot best sober house living in boston, massachusetts even closeto being the same alcohol you purchase at liquor stores. Drinking just a small amount can result in fatal consequences. When trying to stop drinking, some people try to give it all up at once.

Mental Health Treatment

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.

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.

drinking rubbing alcohol

A gradual decrease in consumption can be more effective and less dangerous as the alcohol slowly leaves your system rather than abruptly. This way feels safer for many because there is not a sudden shift in their physiology, and they see day to day how their health is improving. Quitting cold turkey may cause health complications as their body is not prepared to all of a sudden reintegrate itself to its original state. The withdrawal symptoms for alcohol can be painful and dangerous. In cases of a severe alcohol use disorder, it is best to find professional treatment. An alcohol detox center can help you get your life back on track.

In a 2016 interview with The New York Times, Angie Payden, a former Wells Fargo banker in Wisconsin, said she began drinking hand sanitizer at work to cope with pressures of the job. Payden said she ended up completely addicted to hand sanitizer by the end of 2012, when she was consuming about a bottle each day. Eventually, she was confronted about her behavior and sought treatment. Easy access to such substances is the primary reason for nonbeverage alcohol abuse, according to the report. Our community offers unique perspectives on lifelong recovery and substance use prevention, empowering others through stories of strength and courage.

drinking rubbing alcohol

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 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 .

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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