I was told about an event in the news where several deaths had been linked to drinking hand sanitiser. One comment to me was that it was strange, but my reaction was why? If someone has an addiction and can’t drink, then it is likely that they might try to obtain the feeling elsewhere. When I said that, I was told yes, that perhaps they couldn’t get cheap cider. I was a bit shocked to hear that and again wonder if it was because I kept up such a charade that even those close to me didn’t see how bad I was? It is such a stereotype to assume alcoholics only drink a certain drink, although it reinforces the feelings we have that we are okay, because drinking wine (or whatever our personal choice is) is more normal and socially acceptable.
Stereotypes make it harder to seek help and to admit we have a problem. It’s hard enough to face anyway but when you don’t fit the so called expectation of an ‘alcoholic’ it’s even worse. I was so good at keeping up appearances that it took me a long time to admit and address my problem. I find it strange now though, that my struggles seems somewhat forgotten due to the fact that I’m now ‘fixed’. Others tell me to move on from it, but how can I when it is something that played such a big part in who I am? Not drinking may not be a daily battle anymore but I do have triggers and I have to be aware. Complacency could put me back right where I was before.
When I was at the worst point of my dependency I saw my doctor. She was non-judgemental and understanding, not because she had experienced what I had, but because she had worked on hospital wards specialising in addiction and recovery. She told me they’d had to remove the hand sanitisers back then due to people drinking them. I was surprised, even in the state I’d been in, I can’t imagine ever going that far, white wine (and lots of it), was my vice.
Due to it’s high alcohol content hand sanitiser can be used as a means to get intoxicated. It seems that in many prisons before the pandemic, hand sanitiser was banned due not only to the possibility of it being drunk, but also the fact that it could be used as a fire starter. In one case in New Mexico, three people died and one was permanently blinded from drinking something that is designed to protect us from disease. In India, ten people who suffered from a dependency died although many others were hospitalised. It seems that they made their own substance using hand sanitiser as the local shops selling alcohol were closed during lockdown. After a quick google search, I’ve found other cases too, including some in the USA.
I am so grateful for my sobriety right now. I couldn’t imagine going through lockdown and the stress of coronavirus with additional worry of a lack of alcohol. I can’t imagine how I would have been able to keep up with supplying my demand either with the limits on shopping, and it would have made everything so much worse.
It is very easy to look in from the outside and judge others, as I’ve said, I can’t imagine ever drinking hand sanitiser, but who knows what lengths any of us would go to if the need was that great? We can’t always do the ‘right’ thing. Especially when we are dependent on a substance.
It’s a sad old world when people are literally dying for a drink, but when those that need something for a physical or mental dependency can’t get it, I can see why they’d need to try other means to satisfy their need.
So, moving on… It is something I’m trying to do, but, I’m not going to forget, because sad as it is to hear about incidents like these, it reminds me how far I’ve come, and how lucky I am. As I’ve said before, if I can do it, anyone can.
Thanks for reading,