What Happens if You Drink Rubbing Alcohol?

Many people have bottles of rubbing alcohol in their homes to help with incidents requiring first aid and wound sterilization. These containers often have a sticker indicating that the contents are poisonous if ingested. While it may have helped stop some curious children from taking a sip, people dealing with their alcoholism are a different matter. 

For some alcoholics, the allure of having easily accessible alcohol in the house after they have run out of their usual can prove too tempting to ignore. However, unlike the varieties available at liquor stores, beer distributors, and bars, this type damages your body more than the regular stuff. So what happens if you drink rubbing alcohol? 

What Is Rubbing Alcohol?

One of the most common household liquid chemicals, rubbing alcohol acts as a disinfectant or hand sanitizer and is used for personal care. Unlike the types we can drink, the main ingredient is isopropyl alcohol (IPA,) which contains about 70 percent rubbing alcohol but can vary anywhere between 60 and 90. Compared to the methyl alcohol available for consumption, ingesting rubbing alcohol can present plenty of physical complications. 

How Is It Different From Drinkable Alcohol?

While the types of alcohol we can drink come in a wide range of tastes, colors, and odors, the rubbing variety presents itself in multiple ways. For starters, it’s colorless, has a terrible taste, and smells like fingernail polish remover. It’s commonly found in medical settings since it can help sterilize wounds. 

Additionally, the alcohol found in your local distributor has significantly lower amounts in the concoctions. Whether it’s beer, wine, or hard liquor, the quantity of methyl alcohol in a particular spirit ranges from as little as 3 percent to upwards of around 40. Since most widely available rubbing alcohol comes in much higher concentrations, consuming any amount can quickly lead to alcohol poisoning. 

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Even if you consume a little bit of rubbing alcohol, the consequences can prove dire. Since it has a higher potency than your average drinking variations, it becomes that much easier to accidentally overdose. While you may feel similar drunken effects to drinking alcohol, it usually becomes much worse in a hurry. The side effects quickly intensify, and the consequences can be deadly if you don’t get immediate medical attention. 

How Much Is Too Much?

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. Factors like your age, weight, and gender can play a role in how quickly your body processes the substance. Additionally, if you have taken anything else that may react poorly with the rubbing alcohol, it could exacerbate the problem. 

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. 

Some of the symptoms to keep an eye out for when someone is suffering from isopropyl alcohol poisoning include:

  • Sedation
  • Slurred Speech 
  • Unsteadiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding in the Stomach and Intestines
  • Dehydration
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Shock
  • Coma

Why Would Someone Drink Rubbing Alcohol?

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? For an addict’s mind trying to appease their craving for alcohol, the ease and immediacy they can get rubbing alcohol may supersede their reason. 

Get the Help You Need From a Trusted Alcohol Treatment Center in Mahanoy City, PA

Alcoholism can make people do things they wouldn’t consider otherwise in search of their next drink. For those desperate enough, drinking rubbing alcohol even when they know what happens can become a viable alternative in a pinch. If you or someone you love is battling alcoholism and needs help from a trusted 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. 

Our expertly trained staff have years of experience helping our patients deal with their condition, undergo a personalized alcohol rehab program, and provide the support they need for lasting recovery and change. If you or someone you love needs help with alcohol addiction, please don’t hesitate to call us at (866)-345-2147 and learn more about our treatment programs.