Alcohol serves an important purpose in many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications. It is used both as a solvent as well as a preservative. Obviously, medicines that come in liquid form are the ones likely to contain alcohol. It is good for those in recovery to be especially cautious when taking any kind of OTC or prescription medications. Many OTC medications contain alcohol (i.e., Nyquil) or ingredients that could trigger a relapse. Whether or not certain cough syrup with alcohol could endanger the sobriety of a particular alcoholic depends on the strength of his sobriety but he should not risk it. It is always a good idea to read the ingredients on the label. There are several cough syrups that are alcohol-free, such as Tussin DM. When in doubt about a medication, you should consult a pharmacist about the strength of alcohol used as an ingredient. The volume of alcohol can range from as low as 1 percent to as high as 25 percent in night-time cold syrups. Another option is to make sure that the medicine contains no alcohol is that you take tablets or capsules.
Not only cough medicine contain alcohol but mouthwash as well.There is a risk that they can cause a relapse in the recovering alcoholic. Even the taste of alcohol while using mouthwash on a daily basis or a glimpse of the alcohol content displayed on the bottle is a cause of concern for those in recovery.
Before purchasing any medication/mouthwash please check to see if alcohol/ethanol (grain alcohol) is part of the ingredients.