Desperation of Those with Alcohol Addiction

While not all alcoholics are immediately recognisable as such, it is possible to tell that some people are suffering from alcohol addiction. Typically, those who have lost everything to their addiction will be living on the streets and may become quite desperate in terms of getting their hands on alcohol. Some have even resorted to drinking alcoholic hand wash stolen from hospitals.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that there have been numerous thefts of hand wash across hospitals in London, and the BBC has discovered a gang who have been carrying out similar raids. One member of the gang, who would only give his first name as Bartlomiej, admitted that the gang would usually live in squats near hospitals where they would binge drink.

Readily Available

Bartlomiej admitted that the hand wash is readily available in hospitals and that the gang members would walk in with plastic cups and take the gel from the manual dispensers. They would mix the gel with water and drink it. He said, “You don’t need to drink a lot of it to get drunk.”

At least three deaths have been attributed to alcoholic hand wash consumption since 2008, and many hospitals have reported thefts of the substance. Staff have been told to remain alert to the signs of people stealing hand wash and drinking it. Hospital incident logs obtained by the BBC showed a number of incidences of patients with alcoholic hand wash in their possession or in the process of stealing it. Staff have also been assaulted by those trying to take the substance.


In some hospitals, staff have had to remove alcoholic hand gel from various areas such as outpatients, which is non-clinical and has a lower risk of infection. There is even a pilot programme in place at the Royal London Hospital to see if non-alcoholic hand gel can be as effective in the prevention of MRSA and other infections.

Some hospitals have started using foam wash rather than gel, or a gel with a much thicker consistency, and most have installed dispensers that can be locked.

Potentially Fatal

Leading GP Dr Sarah Jarvis has warned of the potentially fatal consequences of drinking alcoholic hand gel. She said, “These alcohol gels are not made to be drunk. Therefore, they will have all sorts of things added to them which will be very toxic.”

She also warned of how drinking alcoholic handwash can be even more dangerous to alcoholics who already have inflammation of their stomachs. She said they had a higher risk of bleeding and alcohol poisoning, which can lead to death.

Importance of Alcoholic Hand Wash

Alcoholic hand wash is in place in hospitals around the country to help prevent infection. A spokesperson for NHS England said, “Hospitals have alcohol hand wash to protect patients, the public and NHS staff, and to support high standards of cleanliness.”

Dangers of Alcohol Addiction

Those with a severe alcohol addiction may get to the stage where they have lost their family and home and have become so desperate to get their hands on the substance they crave that they will take any means necessary.

Without a regular income, many of these people will beg or steal and, unfortunately for a number of these individuals, drinking alcoholic handwash is the only way to get the high they need. They are therefore putting themselves in extreme danger of developing serious health problems.

Help for Addiction

Alcohol addiction is an illness but as with all illnesses, it can be treated. If you or a loved one is suffering because of alcohol addiction, it is important to know that help is available. Addiction Helper can put you in touch with a suitable treatment provider based on your circumstances and needs. All you have to do is call us today, and we will immediately begin working on your behalf to ensure you can start your journey to sobriety.

Source: BBC

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