Is Drinking Rubbing Alcohol Dangerous?

is drinking rubbing alcohol dangerous, man stares out window

Rubbing, or isopropanol, alcohol is an example of why not all alcohol is the same. Ingestion of isopropanol is the second most common kind of alcohol poisoning and the most toxic. Most cases of poisoning are accidental, but some drink it as a substitute for ethanol alcohol, the type of alcohol addiction seen in an alcohol detox center in Jacksonville, FL. Can you drink rubbing alcohol and is drinking rubbing alcohol dangerous?

Is Drinking Rubbing Alcohol Dangerous: What is Rubbing Alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol is the kind you find in your medicine cabinet or in the first aid section at the local pharmacy or grocery store. It is clear as water but has a strong odor similar to acetone. In some countries, it is called a surgical spirit.

Isopropanol alcohol is typically 70 percent alcohol by volume and contains denatured alcohol. Denatured means compounds are added to it to make it less appealing as a drink, such as odor or toxic chemicals that make you ill.

Rubbing Alcohol vs. Drinking Alcohol

Can you drink rubbing alcohol? You shouldn’t drink it. Rubbing alcohol contains a different kind of chemical than something like beer or rum. Drinks like that contain ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Rubbing alcohol contains isopropyl alcohol. It’s important to ask questions like is drinking rubbing alcohol dangerous before consuming anything with alcohol that is not meant as a drink.

Rubbing alcohol is sometimes abused because it is cheap and easy to get, though. It can also cause a feeling of intoxication, but that’s where the similarities end.

What Happens If You Drink It?

For those asking can you drink rubbing alcohol, it’s important to understand the consequences. The biggest risk is the potency of isopropyl alcohol, which is much higher than ethynol. It’s so high that your liver can only process a small amount of alcohol, about 200 milliliters for adults, and much less for children.

The other problem is the body absorbs this alcohol faster than what you find in liquor. It absorbs up to 80 percent in just 30 minutes.

Is Drinking rubbing Alcohol Dangerous?

Drinking high quantities of any alcohol is potentially dangerous; this includes what you get at the liquor store. Since isopropyl alcohol is more potent and absorbs faster, though, it takes much less of it to kill you.

Your body turns the alcohol into acetone, which is a powerful central nervous system depressant. In high quantities, the acetone will lower your blood pressure, body temperature, and may cause the cardiac and respiratory systems to collapse. Forty-five percent of people who die from this kind of poisoning do so from hypotension or low blood pressure.

What are the Symptoms of Rubbing Alcohol Poisoning?

It’s not enough to ask is drinking rubbing alcohol dangerous; you should also be aware of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning such as dizziness, low blood pressure, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. You will likely experience a low body temperature, as well. The high alcohol content can cause burning in the throat. There will also be signs of intoxication, such as slurring words and confusion.

Someone with isopropyl alcohol poisoning may need 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 remove the acetone from the lungs, as well.

Drinking rubbing alcohol may be a sign of an alcohol addiction disorder that requires treatment. Lakeview Health, with locations in Jacksonville, FL, and Woodlands, TX offers:

  • Medical detox
  • Residential treatment
  • Inpatient care
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
  • Aftercare

They provide gender-responsive programs and have family therapy, too.

If you or someone you love has an alcohol addiction disorder, it’s time to get treatment. Give us a call at 866.704.7692 for more information on Lakeview Health programs.