Substance Use

Can You Get Drunk Off Hand Sanitizer? What Are The Risks?

bottle of hand sanitizer

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Can You Get Drunk Off Hand Sanitizer? Know The Risks

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain 60% or more of alcohol, the equivalent of a 120-proof beverage. However, drinking hand sanitizer can be lethal with the risks including seizures, vision loss, and alcohol poisoning.

Many household products that surround us in our everyday lives contain alcohol, including certain hand sanitizers. To most people, they don’t pose a threat.

However, for someone who is currently dealing with an alcohol addiction or for young people who are trying to experiment with alcohol, products like hand sanitizer could be tempting.

Here’s what you need to know about the health risks posed by a product like hand sanitizer.

If you or someone you love is taking risks with alcohol or other substances, Zinnia Health can help. We offer treatment for alcohol abuse to help individuals overcome addiction and get on the path to living a long, fulfilling life. Call our addiction help hotline at (855) 430-9439 and get answers to your questions.

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Is There Alcohol in Hand Sanitizer?

Most hand sanitizers do contain alcohol, usually in the form of:

  • Ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol
  • Isopropyl alcohol, also known as isopropanol
  • Methyl alcohol, also known as methanol

While no hand sanitizer is safe to digest, the IHS states that hand sanitizers containing methanol are particularly dangerous and more likely to be lethal.

They also suggest if you have a hand sanitizer containing methanol, you should throw it away because it’s not worth the risk of using it.

During the pandemic, you may have heard that excess alcoholic beverages were being transformed into hand sanitizer. Even if the alcohol in sanitizer was originally produced for consumption, the process to turn it into sanitizer makes it unfit for human consumption.

It’s worth noting that some hand sanitizers do not contain alcohol at all. Many alcohol-free hand sanitizers use an ingredient known as benzalkonium chloride to disinfect and kill germs instead of alcohol.

If an adult or child ingests alcohol-free sanitizer, it’s important to seek medical help because benzalkonium chloride is recognized as toxic.

If you’re worried about someone ingesting hand sanitizers, check the back of the bottle to see both the active and inactive ingredients. Your local poison control center can advise you on what is safe and what to do in the case of ingestion. 

Can You Get Drunk on Hand Sanitizer?

On average, alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain about 60% alcohol. This makes them quite potent, and it’s important to remember that the other 40% of the product might contain toxic ingredients.

To compare, a bottle of vodka is 80-proof, which means it contains 40% alcohol. This makes the average hand sanitizer 120-proof. If someone were to drink hand sanitizer, they could get drunk because of the high alcohol content.

For a child or teenager, it would only take a few swallows of hand sanitizer for them to feel drunk. However, feeling drunk would be far from the only side effect.

Are you worried about alcohol addiction? Zinnia Health can help. Our team of addiction specialists can answer your questions on substance abuse and alcohol use. Call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 for more information.

Dangers of Drinking Hand Sanitizer

While alcohol is an effective disinfectant, many other ingredients are added to hand sanitizer in order to make it more cost-effective to produce, easier to store, and easier to apply.

For instance, most hand sanitizers come in gel form, so that requires the addition of gelling agents like hydroxypropyl methylcellulose.

Due to the high alcohol content in hand sanitizer along with the various inedible and potentially toxic ingredients that hand sanitizers contain, some of the dangers of ingesting it include:

  • Seizures, which can lead to oxygen deprivation and result in long-term organ damage or death
  • Visual impairment, including the threat of permanent vision loss (blindness)
  • Alcohol poisoning, which can lead to long-term kidney and liver damage

In addition to the above risks, the CDC warns that drinking hand sanitizer can be lethal.

Signs of Hand Sanitizer Consumption

If you’re worried that someone has consumed hand sanitizer, there are some signs that you should look for:

  • They will likely try to rinse their mouth by drinking a lot of water, juice, or soda as hand sanitizer is very bitter and will likely burn their mouth and throat.
  • After a while, they may start acting drunk or tipsy and you may notice tell-tale signs like slurred speech.
  • They may seem confused or fatigued and they may have trouble walking around.

If a person ingests a toxic amount of hand sanitizer, you may begin to notice clammy skin, trouble with comprehension, loss of consciousness, changes in breathing, or convulsions, among other side effects.

In the event that someone ingests a product like hand sanitizer, it’s important to contact a poison control center immediately as they will be able to guide you through what you can do as you wait for medical attention to arrive.

Tips to Prevent the Ingestion of Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers

If someone in your home is currently struggling with alcohol addiction or if you have a teenager or young child around, you should take precautions with all types of alcohol, including hand sanitizer, including:

  • Educating your children on the risks of drinking alcohol and, more importantly, on the risks of consuming inedible products.
  • Keeping products that contain alcohol, like hand sanitizer and mouthwash, out of the reach of children.
  • Opting for alternative products, like hand wipes instead of liquid hand sanitizer.

The number of reported cases of people consuming hand sanitizer is on the rise. If you have children in your home or someone dealing with a mental health condition like substance addiction, it’s important to learn what you can do to help keep them safe.

Stepping in and letting them know that you’re on their side could change the course of their life. 

How to Get Help for Hand Sanitizer or Alcohol Addiction

The bottom line, drinking hand sanitizer can be lethal, and it can also be a sign of an underlying addiction.

If you or someone you love is considering drinking hand sanitizer, it’s time to seek help from an addiction recovery specialist.

Some of the things to look for in an alcohol addiction treatment program include:

  • Customized treatment plans that align with your needs and long-term goals
  • Support to help you with co-occurring disorders, like ADHD and PTSD
  • Individual, group, and family therapies guided by seasoned professionals
  • A staff of caring, experienced providers standing by to assist you around-the-clock
  • Inpatient and outpatient programs, along with ongoing support via text
  • Emerging programs and techniques, including art and music therapy

At Zinnia Health, we know that overcoming addiction can be tough, but we can assure you that the care we provide is always safe, results-driven, and confidential. 

Ready to take the next step? Zinnia Health is standing by to help. Our team is available 24/7 to answer your questions. Just dial (855) 430-9439 to get started.

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