Most mouthwashes contain alcohol, a LOT of alcohol. For example, the original Listerine formula is almost 27% alcohol (54 Proof) and most mint-flavored mouthwashes are around 22% alcohol. But drinking mouthwash can be dangerous.
Who would drink mouthwash?
Although it may not occur to most people to try drinking mouthwash, for some people, it is tempting. Teenagers can get it without ID or find it in their homes. It may be cheaper to buy than alcohol, or at least appear that way. It is often easier to steal mouthwash compared to alcoholic beverages. In most homes it is left out and not really monitored by anyone. And in many homes with recovering alcoholics, alcohol may be removed, but people often forget about mouthwash.
The Toxic Ingredients in Mouthwash
Mouthwash is designed to be expectorated (spit out) and not swallowed. Ingesting amounts large enough to cause drunkenness can be extremely toxic and may lead to serious consequences.
Although mouthwash contains alcohol, it is generally denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol means that it has additives to make it toxic or unpleasant for consumption. (Perhaps no surprise that denatured alcohol is taxed differently/lower than drinkable alcohol.) In some cases these additives are even poisonous. For example, some mouthwashes contain methyl alcohol (or wood alcohol), which is poisonous and can cause blindness, organ failure and death.
Mouthwashes also typically contain other ingredients that are toxic and harmful if ingested. Some mouthwash contains hydrogen peroxide, which can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Many mouthwashes contain compounds such as menthol, eucalyptol and thymol. These ingredients can be toxic when consumed in amounts large enough to become drunk from mouthwash.
Of course drinking mouthwash can be dangerous in the same way that drinking large amounts of alcoholic beverages is dangerous. Large amounts of mouthwash can produce intoxication, which could lead to arrest for drunk driving, making poor decisions, putting oneself at risk for injury or death, and engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors.
If you are drinking mouthwash, you likely have an alcohol problem. If you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol, you can contact New Hope Recovery Center for help: 888-707-4673(HOPE) or [email protected]
Written By: New Hope Recovery Center