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10 Ways People Get Drunk Without Drinking

Alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States. According to the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), approximately 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year.

But not all of these alcohol-induced deaths are from drinking alcohol. Some people get dangerously drunk without actually drinking beer, wine, or liquor.

There are many ways that people get drunk without drinking alcohol. From snorting to vaping to putting it up their you-know-where, kids have tried it.

If you’re wondering how to get drunk without alcohol, understand that none of these methods of getting drunk are considered safe. Some are lethally dangerous, while others are just plain dumb.

Drinking too much alcohol or using the methods below to get drunk without alcohol is dangerous to your health:

1. Snorting alcohol

Powdered alcohol, sometimes known as palcohol, is an illegal, powdered version of alcohol. Some people have snorted this to get a rush. There are also reports of students snorting vodka to try to get a faster, more intense buzz.

2. Inhaling vaporized alcohol

The vaping trend is apparently making its way across all industries. It started with AWOL (Alcohol Without Liquid) — a European product that vaporized alcohol.

Now that vaping is so popular there are a lot of products in development and a huge boom in DIY alcohol vaporizers.

This is scary because it's nearly impossible to know how much alcohol you're consuming. Plus it's bypassing your digestive system and going straight to your bloodstream.

3. Injecting alcohol

Injecting, or mainlining alcohol is incredibly dangerous. It can damage your veins, cause internal bleeding, create infections, and potentially kill you.

This is officially the most dangerous, and stupidest method on the list. Don't do it.

4. Breathing in gasoline or aerosol sprays

Inhaling products with industrial alcohol, also known as huffing, is (arguably) the second most dangerous method on the list. Industrial alcohol can cause lung and brain damage. You will also be huffing a number of unknown contaminants that could kill you.

5. Drinking household products that contain alcohol content

Rubbing alcohol, mouthwash, hand sanitizer, and cough syrup all contain alcohol. Teens may drink them because they don't have access to regular alcoholic beverages. No amount of isopropyl alcohol is safe to consume.

This can cause kidney or liver damage, as well as unforeseen medical complications due to unknown ingredients.

6. Inserting alcohol enemas

Also known as "butt-chugging," alcohol enemas are actually common enough to have a reputation.

The membranes in your rectum are very porous. This makes them absorb things rapidly. So rapidly that you can actually pass out and die from this method.

7. Inserting alcohol-soaked tampons

This is the same idea as alcohol enemas. Except you soak the tampon in liquor (usually vodka). Then it's inserted into the vagina or rectum.

The method could damage the sensitive areas in a number of ways, from bleeding to abnormal acid-base balance, or altered pH. Serious vaginal problems like infections and yeast overgrowth can occur.

8. Eyeballing

Pouring alcohol straight into your eyeball. Not only is this method incredibly dangerous and stupid, but it's also ineffective.

Yes, the alcohol will go straight to your bloodstream, but not very much will get there. The capillaries seal off immediately and the only thing that will happen is potential eye damage.

9. Using sublingual absorption

Placing alcohol (or alcohol-soaked items) under your tongue can result in intoxication. However, it can also cause gum damage, canker sores, and eventually ulcers.

Most of the alcohol placed for sublingual absorption ends up being swallowed.

10. Eating alcoholic food items

Alcohol-drenched gummy bears, alcoholic popsicles, and Jell-O shots are just a few examples of alcoholic food items. These are not as dangerous as other methods on the list.

The main concern with these is underage drinking. Kids can sneak alcohol into school, and anywhere else disguised as normal candy.

Many people choose these alternative methods of alcohol consumption to avoid certain side effects of binge drinking. The carbs in alcoholic beverages, the taste of alcohol, or the smell of alcohol on their breaths, for example.

But these methods of getting drunk can still give you a hangover or worse — alcohol poisoning. The side effects of getting drunk without alcohol can ultimately end your life, or at least cause serious health problems.

Can you Get Drunk off Rubbing Alcohol?

Yes, you can get drunk from drinking rubbing alcohol but it can also kill you in the process. Because rubbing alcohol is toxic and full of poisons, drinking rubbing alcohol can be fatal. 

Your body metabolizes rubbing alcohol differently than it processes drinking alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol is made up of about 70 percent (or more) isopropyl alcohol. This is different from the ethyl alcohol (also known as ethanol) derived from fermenting carbohydrates in fruit and grain that beer, wine, and liquor are all made of.

Isopropyl is found in a lot of consumer products, including various lotions and cosmetics, and it is not intended for drinking.

While drinking too much ethanol can raise your blood alcohol level to dangerous heights, consuming even a small amount of isopropyl can cause rapid intoxication, poison you, and even lead to death.

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Auto-Brewery Syndrome

Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, endogenous ethanol fermentation, or simply "drunkenness disease," is a rare condition that can cause you to get drunk without drinking alcohol.

If someone has this disease, fungi found in the small intestine can convert sugar or carbohydrates into ethanol.

This disease is extremely rare and can usually be treated with anti-fungal medication or a change in diet.

Dangers of Getting Drunk Without Alcohol

Getting drunk without drinking alcohol can be incredibly dangerous and rapidly raise your BAC to fatal levels.

Getting drunk from drinking alcohol can be dangerous, too. If you have an underlying medical condition, the above methods of alcohol use can be especially dangerous.

Snorting, inhaling, and injecting alcohol, for example, almost instantly deliver the alcohol to the bloodstream and brain. Even a small amount of alcohol can lead to rapid intoxication.

The same can be said of inserting alcohol or alcohol-soaked objects like tampons in the sensitive mucous membranes of the vagina, rectum, and under the tongue.

Drinking products that contain alcohol not intended for drinking is dangerous. Not only because the alcohol will reach your bloodstream and brain, but also because of the poisons in these products.

If you or a loved one has consumed rubbing alcohol or another toxic product, immediately call the Health Resources & Services Administration’s toll-free Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222) to connect with your local poison center. 

You can also visit www.PoisonHelp.org to answer a questionnaire about your situation and retrieve advice. The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the country’s 55 poison centers in every state and United States territory, which means that there’s help available wherever you are.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or an alcohol use disorder, addiction treatment is also available. Reach out to your local alcohol rehab center for help or learn more about your options here.

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Alcohol Use Statistics

85.6

Percent

Of Americans ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol in their lifetime.

25.8

Percent

Of Americans ages 18 and older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the last month.

14.5

Million

people have alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Updated on March 29, 2022
14 sources cited
  1. “Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 18 Feb. 2020, www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
  2. “American College of Emergency Physicians.” ACEP // American College of Emergency Physicians, www.acep.org/how-we-serve/sections/toxicology/news/june-2015/palcohol-and-ethanol/
  3. Bartlett, Jeremy A, and Kees van der Voort Maarschalk. “Understanding the Oral Mucosal Absorption and Resulting Clinical Pharmacokinetics of Asenapine.” AAPS PharmSciTech, Springer US, Dec. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3513449/
  4. Bosmia, Anand N, et al. “Vodka Eyeballing: a Potential Cause of Ocular Injuries.” Journal of Injury & Violence Research, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, July 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4009175/
  5. “The Dangers Of Alcohol Soaked Tampons.” Scottsdale Recovery Center, 2 Aug. 2020, scottsdalerecovery.com/the-dangers-of-alcohol-soaked-tampons/.
  6. “Dangers of Drinking Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol.” Recovery First Treatment Center, www.recoveryfirst.org/alcohol-abuse/rubbing-alcohol/
  7. “Drinking Rubbing Alcohol: Can You Do It Safely? Ocean Breeze Recovery.” Ocean Breeze Recovery, 19 Mar. 2020, oceanbreezerecovery.org/alcohol/rubbing-alcohol/.
  8. “First Steps in a Poisoning Emergency.” First Steps in a Poisoning Emergency | Poison Help, 18 Mar. 2019, poisonhelp.hrsa.gov/faq/first-steps-poisoning-emergency.
  9. Foy, Chris, and About Chris FoyChris Foy is a content manager and webmaster for FHE Health with years of experience in the addiction treatment industry...read more. “Is It Possible to Get Drunk Off of Rubbing Alcohol?” FHE Health – Addiction & Mental Health Care, 25 June 2020, fherehab.com/learning/high-off-rubbing-alcohol.
  10. “Inhalants.” Inhalants - Alcohol and Drug Foundation, adf.org.au/drug-facts/inhalants/.
  11. Mahdi, Ameera S., and Andrew J. McBride. “INTRAVENOUS INJECTION OF ALCOHOL BY DRUG INJECTORS: REPORT OF THREE CASES.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Nov. 1999, academic.oup.com/alcalc/article/34/6/918/192717.
  12. Mekonnen, Serkalem. “Rubbing Alcohol Only Looks Like Water.” Get Poison Control Help Online or Call 1-800-222-1222, National Capital Poison Center, 21 Apr. 2020, www.poison.org/articles/2012-dec/rubbing-alcohol-only-looks-like-water
  13. Reid, Nicole. Inhaling Alcohol Is Dangerous, National Capital Poison Center, 29 Apr. 2020, www.poison.org/articles/2013-sep/inhaling-alcohol-is-dangerous.
  14. Alcohol facts and statistics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), February 2020, https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

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