Who is Drinking Mouthwash to Get Drunk?

Drinking Mouthwash to get Drunk Header

Alcohol use disorders impact nearly 15 million people ages 12 and older in the United States. While many people drink standard alcoholic beverages, a small sector of individuals ingests dangerous forms of alcohol in items like rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or mouthwash. 

Drinking mouthwash can get you drunk, but it can also kill you. Ethanol (alcohol) is just one of the hazardous ingredients in standard mouthwashes. Let’s get into what you need to know. 

Other chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide and methyl salicylate, can cause severe stomach and intestine distress. 

What Are the Harmful Ingredients in Mouthwash? 

Most of the popular brands of mouthwash contain hazardous ingredients when consumed in large quantities. These ingredients include:

  • Ethanol (alcohol): a colorless liquid made from various biomass materials
  • Hydrogen peroxide: an oxidizing agent with disinfectant features
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine: a surfactant that helps products create a foam-like effect
  • Methyl salicylate: an analgesic that can help with minor body aches
  • Chlorhexidine gluconate: an antiseptic that kills bacteria 
  • Chlorine dioxide: a hazardous gas that acts as a bleaching agent
  • Parabens: endocrine disruptors
  • Formaldehyde: a chemical compound associated with elevated cancer risk

When used appropriately (swished around the mouth and spat out), they are not considered toxic. In fact, some dentists recommend their patients use mouthwash as part of their oral hygiene plan. In recent years, mouthwash has become more controversial, with some dentists speaking out about the dangers of mouthwash.  

However, oral consumption is always considered dangerous. The combination of ingredients can cause organ failure, liver failure, and alcohol poisoning

Can You Get Drunk From Mouthwash?

Yes, absolutely. Listerine, for example, contains over 26% alcohol, making the substance about 54 proof. This breakdown is much higher than standard alcoholic beverages, such as beer or wine. 

When you examine this ratio mathematically, an average 1.5-liter bottle of Listerine may contain upwards of 23 standard drinks. The alcohol will affect the individual based on several factors, including their:

  • Tolerance to alcohol.
  • Body mass.
  • Age.
  • Physical health status.
  • Current blood alcohol level.

That said, there is no single way to predict how your body will react to alcohol. Even if someone hasn’t encountered difficulties in the past, that isn’t a guarantee that they are exempt from the inherent risk. Click here to visit our Blood Alcohol Calculator. 

Why Do People Drink Mouthwash? 

All mouthwash manufacturers make their terms clear: you should not, under any circumstances, drink their product. Mouthwash is intended to be spit out. Swallowing it can be toxic and lethal. 

With that in mind, people drink mouthwash for several reasons, including:

  • Presence of a substance use disorder.
  • Cost-related factors (mouthwash is cheaper than standard alcoholic beverages).
  • Discreet use due to the minty smell.
  • Being underage.
  • Being unable to buy or consume alcohol at a specific time.
  • Already being intoxicated and wanting to continue consuming alcohol.
  • Being a young child and not recognizing the risk.

Many times, the decision to drink mouthwash is impulsive. The individual experiences an intense craving for alcohol, and mouthwash can be a convenient, accessible option. Unlike regular alcohol, people can buy it at an ordinary store without identification. 

What Are the Signs of Mouthwash Overdose?

A mouthwash overdose can occur when someone ingests too much mouthwash- overdoses can occur even if the consumption is accidental. 

The common signs of a mouthwash overdose include:

  • Slowed breathing.
  • Decreased body temperature.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Throat pain (may feel like a burning sensation).
  • Slurred speech.
  • Drowsiness or coma.
  • Uncoordinated movement.
  • Unresponsive reflexes
  • Involuntary urination.
  • Headache.
  • Abdominal pain.

If you suspect you or someone you love is experiencing a mouthwash overdose, it’s critical to seek medical attention immediately. Avoid trying to induce vomiting unless instructed—call 911 or your local poison control center for guidance. 

Emergency room treatment may include breathing support, intravenous fluids, kidney dialysis, or activated charcoal. In some cases, the person will be admitted to the hospital for extended stabilization and monitoring. 

Final Thoughts

Drinking Listerine or other mouthwashes is never safe. The decision to engage in this behavior can lead to devastating consequences, including death. 

Alcohol use disorder presents with numerous challenges. Fortunately, help and recovery are available.  If you or someone you know is struggling from addiction, please contact one of our addiction specialists and call (866) 578-7471. 

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10 comments
  1. Thanks for this life saving article. I have always known it to be dangerous for consumption because it is boldly written on it that spit out, not to be swallowed. But I’m not aware people drink it to get high. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This sounds so funny seeing people or hearing that people drink mouthwash to get drunk. Drinking mouthwash can get you drunk, but the danger there is that it can also kill you. Ethanol (alcohol) is just one of the hazardous ingredients in standard mouthwashes. Let’s be guided with this educational post. Thanks for this good post.

  3. Should I say this sounds hilarious, how can one take mouthwash to get drunk? I call that death attempt. This is where I feel awareness and campaign to specify the dangers this pose is necessary.

  4. Drinking mouth wash to get high isn’t safe but very dangerous. It is very advice able to refrain from it because of those harmful ingredients used in making it. Those ingredient can cause intestine distress and also lead to death. Thanks for this article.

  5. The dangerous thing about consuming alcohol from products not intended for human consumption is all the other chemicals they are ingested along with. Clear marking on such products should be made so as to make the consumer aware of the dangers associated with consuming the product.

  6. I appreciate you bringing this often overlooked subject into the limelight. The issue of ingesting alcohol containing substances has been a cause of many medical emergencies that could have otherwise been easily prevented.

  7. I can understand a child drinking mouthwash out of sheer ignorance. However it beats me why an adult who knows the dangers of such an action would willingly do it.

  8. Consumption of mouthwash can be indicative of deeper alcohol addiction problems. It is best to get people who indulge in such behavior some professional help.

  9. There are many bad effects of mouthwash like organ failure,liver failure and alcohol poisoning,There are many harmful chemicals in mouthwash like ethanol, hydrogen peroxide etc.People should try to avoid mouthwash.

  10. Mouthwash contains a very high alcoholic content. Maybe the companies manufacturing such products could use a substitute for the alcohol or alternatively a lower concentration of alcohol to prevent people from ingesting them.

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