The Dangers of an Alcohol Enema

It's the hard-core alcoholic's dream: Be able to get completely intoxicated without drinking a drop. Frighteningly, whether performed as a kooky college dare or as part of a more deliberate scheme to get drunk, your first alcohol enema may be your last.

The tissue inside your rectum—the rectal mucosa—is full of blood vessels. When alcohol is inserted rectally, these vessels deliver it straight into the bloodstream. This bypasses all of your body's normal defenses against alcohol poisoning to include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired abilities
  • Passing out

By bypassing your body's natural defenses, you can easily take in fatal doses of alcohol through an enema without knowing it—until it is too late. In fact, the dosages for medications administered rectally sometimes must be halved, or even cut in third, because the absorption and systemic distribution are so rapid.

Consider a night out drinking with friends. Depending on your body mass (height and weight), you may have one, two or even three drinks before feeling the effects of the alcohol slowly starting to enter your bloodstream. This is your body's warning to slow down or preferably to stop drinking. When you drink alcohol, it has to travel through the majority of your digestive tract before starting to get absorbed within your intestines. If you've recently eaten a meal, it will further slow the absorption and digestion of the alcohol. Hence the phrase: Never drink on an empty stomach.

Blood Alcohol Levels

Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurable concentration of the percentage of alcohol floating around in your bloodstream. If you consider one drink as a mere 1.5 ounces (a shot) of 80 proof whiskey, just two drinks can elevate your BAC to 0.02 percent. At five drinks, your levels shoot up to 0.10 percent. For someone drinking the alcohol, this is the point where you would be legally intoxicated and at risk of a DUI, have slurred speech, and appear intoxicated. The BAC is dependent on many factors, including weight. Two drinks for a 200-pound person will be 0.02, but that amount would be 0.04 for a 100-pound person. If you took the alcohol rectally, however, it would take just seconds to go from a normal state to a legally intoxicated state — without the ability to vomit or rid your body of some of the excess (vomiting usually occurs between 0.10 to 0.15 percent).

When your BAC reaches 0.16 to 0.30 percent, but this is the stage where the drinker will blackout or pass out. It's your body's last-ditch effort to make you stop drinking because it's pretty hard to continue drinking when you are unconscious.

Alcohol Poisoning and Death

A BAC of 0.31 to 0.45 is incompatible with life. This high of a level of circulating blood volume being composed of alcohol suppresses your basic life functions—including the ability to breath. You will reach this state much faster—and without your body making you stop—by consuming your alcohol via an enema.

Colitis and Bleeding

If that wasn't enough to scare you away from alcohol enemas, consider the fact that they have also been shown in case reports to cause severe colitis. Severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and damages to your gastrointestinal tract are a very real possibility.

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Article Sources

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

  • Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). BDS Medication Administration Curriculum, Section II.

  • Mian, S., McFadden, K., et al. (June 2005). Self-administered Alcohol (Vodka) Enema Causing Severe Colitis: Case Report and Review. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. 922-926.

  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Alcohol Overdose: The Dangers of Drinking Too Much.