Can You Drink Rubbing Alcohol? What Happens if You Do?

What Is Rubbing Alcohol?

Isopropanol is most commonly discovered in rubbing alcohol, which is a solution that is typically composed of 30% water and 70% isopropanol. It is a colorless, clear liquid with a somewhat fruity odor and a bitter taste. Rubbing alcohol is utilized in a wide variety of commercially available products such as:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Hand Sanitizers
  • Disinfectants
  • Aftershaves
  • Antifreeze
  • Cosmetics
  • Cleaners
  • Solvents
  • Lotions
  • Ink

According to the Poison Control Centers in the United States every year, isopropanol ingestion is the most common toxic alcohol ingestion. Even though the majority of isopropanol exposures are considered unintentional and can happen in young adolescents less than 6 years of age. It is still an extremely serious matter.

Can You Drink Rubbing Alcohol? Why Do People Drink It?

Rubbing Alcohol Addiction Treatment

The fundamental question is, “Can you drink rubbing alcohol?” You can, but it’s certainly not recommended. Generally, rubbing alcohol is consumed because it’s much stronger than ethanol. Ethanol is the intoxicating agent that is produced by distillation and sugar fermentation. This is found the most in common alcoholic beverages.

Second essential question is, “Why are individuals drinking rubbing alcohol?” Individuals are drinking rubbing alcohol to become intoxicated, or in other cases, harm themselves. People that are struggling with alcoholism might turn to stronger substances such as rubbing alcohol to reach a specific level of intoxication.

Sometimes, rubbing alcohol is substituted for ethanol due to its widespread availability and lower cost. For example, a 16-ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol costs $1.00 and can be purchased anytime at a 24-hour drug store. Rubbing alcohol is also more powerful than ethanol and is swiftly absorbed into the bloodstream.

However, the same characteristics that allow a person to rapidly become intoxicated are responsible for the dangers and risks associated with drinking rubbing alcohol.

What Happens If You Drink Rubbing Alcohol?

When it comes to a person drinking rubbing alcohol, the digestive tract will endure the most harm, even if only a small amount is swallowed. Once rubbing alcohol is consumed, the body metabolizes extremely high alcohol levels into acetone. If an individual consumes rubbing alcohol to the point of intoxication, the substance use can lead to organ damage.

Rubbing alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and the side effects can include intoxication, headaches, and dizziness. It is a gastrointestinal irritant, so it can cause vomiting blood, nausea, and abdominal pain. In addition, due to having a higher molecular weight than ethanol, isopropanol is more intoxicating and can produce the following effects:

  • Cardiopulmonary collapse
  • An altered sensorium
  • Hyperthermia
  • Hypotension

The Risks and Dangers of Drinking Rubbing Alcohol

Risks and Dangers of Drinking Rubbing Alcohol Addiction

When a person is drinking rubbing alcohol, there are several dangers and risks involved compared to drinking ethanol. As previously stated, isopropanol is much more intoxicating than ethanol at corresponding concentrations, and is more likely to produce the following effects:

  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Decreased body heat production
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Slurred speech
  • Stumbling
  • Sedation

Rubbing alcohol is swiftly absorbed by the person’s body, with blood levels reaching a climax between 30 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion. Due to rubbing alcohol’s chemical makeup, it is metabolized differently than ethanol, which causes the body to become overwhelmed by toxins. Fundamentally, rubbing alcohol is broken down into acetone, which is a chemical found in nail polish remover.

Acetone is considered a gastrointestinal irritant that can cause the following digestive problems:

  • Bleeding in the intestines and stomach
  • Bladder rupture
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting blood
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

It can also trigger extreme depression in the central nervous system, which can result in the following dangerous circumstances:

  • Intoxication
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Coma

It’s important to understand that rubbing alcohol is extremely dangerous to be consumed in any quantity. When a person engages in massive ingestion, it can become especially risky. Therefore, causing internal bleeding, organ damage, cardiovascular function, shock, or death.

Can You Become Addicted to Rubbing Alcohol?

If a person is engaging in drinking rubbing alcohol, they can become addicted. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) survey in 2019, alcohol use disorder affects about 7.2% of the adult population in the United States. That rounds up to about 17 million individuals 18 years of age and older.

When a person struggles with an alcohol use disorder, (AUD), they aren’t able to control how much they drink, they crave alcohol, and might be physically dependent on it as well. Sometimes, individuals aren’t able to get access to wine, liquor, or beer, and this causes them to resort to other substances. In other instances, a person’s body might develop such a high tolerance that they start to seek out stronger forms of alcohol to consume.

As the above process occurs, the person is in essence attempting to attain their original level of intoxication. Even though drinking too much ethanol, which is the alcohol chemical at the base of alcoholic beverages, can cause devasting harm to the body and brain, consuming other types of alcohol is even more toxic. One of the dangerous forms of alcohol is rubbing alcohol.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction

Though alcoholism is broadly recognized as the disease of compulsive drinking, it can be treated, but not fully cured. The illness is ongoing, which means it’ll only worsen as the individual continues to drink. Abstinence is how a person can arrest the disease.

Alcoholism has the power to affect the addict’s family. As a result of that, alcoholic families also need support. The first step in overcoming drinking rubbing alcohol is attending an alcohol detox center. After the detox process is completed, the individual should attend addiction treatment. Once alcohol addiction treatment is completed, 12 steps of addiction are the next step.

Little Creek Recovery Can Help Break the Cycle of Addiction

Here at Little Creek Lodge, we can assist you with your rubbing alcohol addiction. It’s important to detox at a professional center because we have professionals ready to help you. We have various options ranging from inpatient to residential treatment.

There are outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization programs, and intensive outpatient programs. Our comprehensive, clinical, and holistic therapies are sure to help. Contact us to get started.

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