Last week, New Jersey investigators found nearly 30 bars and restaurants in the region are serving pricey drinks containing rubbing alcohol, food coloring, and dirty water. They said no health issues were reported, but existing documents reveal consuming rubbing alcohol is far from being safe.
To begin with, rubbing alcohol contains 70% isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol). It is commonly used as a disinfectant, antifreeze, and solvent in perfumes and other cosmetic products. According to the International Programme on Chemical Safety, oral ingestion is one of the most common routes of exposure to rubbing alcohols. Symptoms include drowsiness, dizziness, slurred speech, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and loss of coordination. It can also severely irritate mucous membranes, the sensitive tissues lining the throat and airways. More serious health problems following massive exposure to rubbing alcohol include loss of consciousness, slow breathing, low body temperature, coma, even death.
If you or anyone you know accidentally or intentionally swallow rubbing alcohol, immediately contact the National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) for further instructions. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) advised not to drink milk or water if you are having symptoms that make it hard to swallow. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.