Substance Use

What Is Moonshine? What Are the Dangers?

moonshine liquor in shot glasses and bottle

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Moonshine Dangers, Side Effects, and Treatment Options

Moonshine is a potent liquor that’s often produced illegally. The name comes from the fact that most people made it at night during prohibition to avoid detection. Novelty versions of moonshine are available from legitimate distilleries, but illicit moonshine remains on the market. It’s this kind of moonshine that can be dangerous.

Due to the high alcohol content, drinking moonshine can be a sign of substance abuse. If you’re looking to quit, Zinnia Health can help. Dial (855) 430-9439 for answers to your questions.

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What Is in Moonshine?

Moonshine starts like any other alcoholic beverage by going through a period of fermentation. Wine, for example, begins with fermented grapes, but moonshine is a type of whiskey made from grains (typically corn), sugar, and yeast.

To make moonshine, you would distill the liquid once those ingredients have been fermented inside a chamber for at least one week.

The distillation process separates the alcohol from the water and other components inside the fermentation chamber. By heating the mixture, you cause the alcohol to vaporize.

The water remains liquid because the alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water. As the alcohol evaporates, the steam collects and condenses, turning into a liquid.

Although distillation may sound straightforward, one of the biggest dangers of moonshine happens during this very process. As the mixture distills, it produces methanol.

Methanol is a byproduct of the chemical transformation taking place. This byproduct is extremely flammable, which is why people often distill moonshine outside despite this method being easier to detect.

The dangers of making moonshine are not the only risks you must consider. More people have died from drinking moonshine than making it, and it’s because the dangerous byproduct methanol can remain in the moonshine.

Detecting methanol before drinking the contaminated moonshine is impossible. A person drinking moonshine with methanol will get drunk quickly due to the potency of the alcohol, and they may not realize the moonshine was contaminated until the deadly side effects begin to show.

What Are the Side Effects of Moonshine?

Methanol contamination poses the biggest danger with moonshine. Unfortunately, people often produce moonshine illegally using all types of random equipment, like car parts. There is no quality control or formal testing, so while one batch of moonshine seems fine, the next could be deadly.

It only takes 10 milliliters (ml) of methanol to damage the optic nerve permanently. This damage can lead to partial or complete blindness.

Consider that you could die from drinking just 30 milliliters (ml) of methanol. For reference, a standard shot glass holds 40 milliliters (ml) of fluid. Moonshine is also connected with lead poisoning and arsenic poisoning

Aside from the dangers of the contaminants that may be found within the moonshine, the high alcohol content of moonshine also poses risks, such as alcohol poisoning and liver disease. If someone drinks moonshine, the people around them must understand the signs of methanol poisoning and alcohol poisoning.

However, even if they understand the signs, they might not have enough time to treat the poisoning before extremely harmful effects set in.

If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol addiction treatment, Zinnia Health can help. Call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 to get started on overcoming alcohol addiction.

Can Moonshine Be Addictive?

Moonshine can contain anywhere from 40% to 80% alcohol, depending on how someone produces it. This percentage makes moonshine one of the most alcoholic drinks out there, one reason it’s considered illicit alcohol.

Many people think of alcohol as something to enjoy, but they don’t realize it can be addicting. In recent years, we’ve come to understand the nature of alcohol addiction far better.

We know treating it requires a structured process and consistent support to minimize withdrawal symptoms and help a person achieve long-term recovery.

Any alcohol can be addicting, but moonshine has a higher risk of addiction because it is much more potent. In addition, when people consume alcohol in larger amounts, they feel the effects more. The intense sensations can even cause a person to drink more than they planned and encourage them to drink moonshine again.

Over time, repeated alcohol use can lead to addiction and serious health side effects.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction

Recovering from alcohol addiction requires more than quitting drinking. Unfortunately, many people who try to quit drinking, especially when they’re taking strong alcohol like moonshine, will tend to relapse. This process of quitting and relapsing can be very draining on the body, but it doesn’t mean you can’t recover.

Some of the treatment options for alcohol addiction include:

  • Outpatient treatment, where you can continue living at home and will attend appointments a few times a week. This option is a good idea if you have a strong support network that can limit alcohol accessibility.
  • Residential treatment, where you enroll in a treatment center for around-the-clock support from a team of addiction professionals.
  • Inpatient treatment at a hospital, where you can get help through the initial detox process with a team of medical experts. This healthcare team understands the symptoms of alcohol poisoning and what’s necessary to reduce the risk of side effects like liver disease.

Hospitalization isn’t necessary for most people, but it may be the first step to recovery if you believe you have health side effects due to moonshine or alcohol consumption.

No matter where you seek treatment, it’s important that you’re honest with any healthcare professional about your consumption of substances like moonshine. 

Get Help for Moonshine or Alcohol Addiction Today

Quitting alcohol isn’t easy, especially if you’ve consumed illicit substances like moonshine for a while. What matters is that you seek help sooner rather than later — before you risk serious side effects like damage to your eyesight, liver, or central nervous system. Once you reach out for help, you can begin your healing journey.

Are you ready to take the next step toward moonshine or alcohol addiction treatment? Let Zinnia Health help. Call our alcoholism hotline available 24 hours per day at (855) 430-9439 for more information.

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