December 23, 2014 Marissa ObrienAlcoholism0

After struggling for quite some time, Mary managed to accumulate 6 solid years of continuous sobriety. She had worked hard to stay sober and to humble herself – she spent tireless shifts waiting tables, saving nearly every dollar she earned until she was able to purchase a home. She went back to culinary school, having discovered a newfound enthusiasm for the passion she had deserted long ago. Soon she had her own business in the works, a catering service she ran by herself out of a neatly decorated van. She had business cards made and a chef’s jacket embroidered with her name. Life was good, and complacency began to settle in slowly. Mary went to fewer meetings and spent less time helping those newer in the program than she – business was booming and there seemed no real reason to dedicate valuable time to something she clearly had under control.

Relapsing on Mouthwash is Disturbingly Common

One morning, Mary was getting ready to meet with a potential new client. She was finishing up her morning ritual – brush, rinse, shower – when some of the Listerine she kept on her sink and swished with daily accidentally made its way down her throat. At first she choked, not sure what had happened and taken aback by the overwhelming taste. Suddenly a warm, familiar sensation crept over her. She hesitated for a moment before taking another swig straight from the bottle. The familiarity was too comforting to deny. Before she knew quite what had happened, she had finished nearly half the bottle. She got into her van and drove to the meeting, feeling calm, confident, and slightly confused.

Mary continued drinking mouthwash, up to five bottles a day, for the next year. She picked up her 7-year medallion, convincing herself that it wasn’t really alcohol; it wasn’t really a relapse. It wasn’t really an issue. Deep down, buried beneath the delusions and the lies, she felt ashamed and estranged. She didn’t realize that relapsing on mouthwash was a disturbingly prevalent issue until she checked herself back into inpatient rehab for six months.

Listerine is More Potent Than Many Alcoholic Beverages

Listerine, the most frequently sold brand of mouthwash, contains 26.9% alcohol – making it more potent than beer, wine, and even some liquors. Manufacturers use alcohol in their products because it helps penetrate and dissolve oral plaque, and dilutes other key ingredients helping to form a consistent mixture. The inclusion of several dangerous (if ingested) chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and methanol make consuming mouthwash in large quantities potentially lethal. 10-15% of alcoholics who are currently in detoxification for alcohol abuse will admit to having used non-beverage alcohol such as mouthwash in moments of desperation. Seeing as alcohol is such a prevalent beverage throughout the country, it may seem odd that anyone would choose a bottle of Listerine over a fifth of Jack Daniels mixed with coke. There are several reasons as to why an alcoholic may use mouthwash or any other non-beverage type of alcohol over a popularly consumed booze product.

  • Mouthwash is easy to conceal.

For one who has openly struggled with alcohol abuse previously, friends and family members may be less likely to notice if their loved one has been drinking mouthwash than liquor. If someone you know has been struggling with alcoholism suddenly has super fresh breath every day all the time, this may be a red flag.

  • Restrictions do not apply.

In most stores, an individual who looks under the age of 21 will not be carded when purchasing dental hygiene supplies. Additionally, mouthwash can be purchased at any hour of the day, while alcoholic beverages can only be purchased before a certain time in the majority of states.

For alcoholics like Mary, convincing yourself that drinking mouthwash is easier than dealing with the overwhelming and instantaneous feelings of guilt and shame that would come with relapsing at a local bar. It is important to remember that addiction is a tricky disease, and a disease of the mind – and logic hardly comes into play.

Relapsing on mouthwash is far more prevalent than one may think. And consuming large amounts of mouthwash may be more immediately harmful than picking up a bottle of liquor based on the combination of chemicals used in production. If someone you know has been acting suspiciously and you believe they may have been using a non-beverage form of alcohol, feel free to contact one of our trained addiction specialists to find out what steps to take to get them the help they need.

December 2, 2014 Marissa ObrienAlcoholism0

Alcohol is by far the most frequently abused chemical substance throughout the country – and has reigned supreme since its introduction into society. While many tend to partake in alcohol consumption because it is “safe” and socially acceptable, the long-term effects of prolonged alcohol abuse are extremely detrimental, and often lethal. However, long-term effects of alcohol consumption can have cardioprotective health benefits. Though be weary of using this as an excuse if you tend to imbibe more than you should. One glass of wine on a Saturday night is exceedingly different than a fifth of vodka first thing in the morning. If you are overindulging, the consequences may be fatal.

Long-Term Consequences of Alcoholism

Long-term effects of alcohol abuse include malnutrition, alcoholic liver disease, chronic pancreatitis, and cancer. Psychological damage is also likely to be done with extended periods of daily and excessive alcohol consumption. Many chronic alcoholics will begin hallucinating or becoming delusional after years of daily use. Typically, there are twelve major risks involved with chronic alcoholism. Each is severe, and many can co-occur depending on the severity of the alcoholism.

  1. Pancreatitis

Heavy drinking has been known to inflame the pancreas, interfering with the digestive process. Up to 60% of pancreatitis cases are caused solely by heavy drinking.

  1. Gout

Gout is caused by the formation of uric acid crystals within the joints. Heavy alcohol consumption can cause gout, as well as aggravate existing cases.

  1. Cardiovascular Disease

When one is drinking heavily on a regular basis, their platelets are more likely to clump together and for blood clots. In many instances, increase in blood clots will eventually lead to heart attack or stroke.

  1. Cirrhosis

Alcohol is extremely toxic to liver cells. After prolonged periods of heavy drinking, the liver may be so scarred it cannot function properly. Liver function is essential to overall health, and cirrhosis can be lethal.

  1. High Blood Pressure

Over-consumption of alcohol can disrupt the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the constriction and dilation of blood vessels.

  1. Nerve Damage

Alcoholism is known to cause what is called alcoholic neuropathy – a painful condition that arises because alcohol is highly toxic to nerve cells.

  1. Anemia

Alcoholism causes the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells to diminish, resulting in anemia. Anemia may cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and dizziness.

  1. Cancer

When large amounts of alcohol are consumed, the body converts it into acetaldehyde – a potent carcinogen. Cancer is more common amongst drinkers that additionally use tobacco regularly.

  1. Dementia

Alcoholism speeds up brain atrophy – the shrinkage of the brain. Memory loss is an extremely common side effect amongst binge and daily drinkers.

     10. Seizures

Not only does heavy drinking cause epilepsy, and sometimes cause seizures in those who do not have epilepsy – alcohol consumption also interferes with medications used to treat convulsions.

     11. Depression

Recent studies show that depression actually results from extensive heavy drinking, rather than the other way around. Additionally, symptoms of depression are proven to decrease once an alcoholic maintains sobriety for a prolonged period of time.

    12. Infectious Diseases

Not only does alcohol consumption majorly suppress the immune system, but those who drink excessively are more likely to engage in risky sex – therefore contracting sexually transmitted diseases.



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