Created By: Columbina on December 8, 2011 Last Edited By: MacronNotes on May 26, 2013
Troped

Heal it with Booze

When alcohol intended for consumption is used in the treatment of a wound or as an antiseptic.

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Trope
You ever notice how in fiction no one ever has peroxide but everyone always has vodka? This trope occurs when a character pours liquor on a wound to disinfect it, or drinks alcohol as an antiseptic. Note that in the later case this trope would only occur when the character is using alcohol specifically as an antiseptic right before having a wound stitched up or a bullet extracted ect, and not when a character is just generally self medicating with alcohol.

Not to be confused with Booze-Based Buff, where the alcohol grants abilities and is basically a power up. If the alcohol instantly remedies a characters ailments, it's not an example of this trope.

Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
  • Subverted in an episode of Irresponsible Captain Tylor, where the ship's doctor considers using his personal stash when crew injuries are piling up. He considers it, takes a swig, then decides it'd be a waste.
  • Shaman King: Horohoro uses sake as a disinfectant after tangling with a bear in Colorado.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film - Animated]]
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda uses a bottle of wine on Phoebus' wounds.
    Phoebus: Great, I could use a drink. [cries in pain as she pours in on wound] AA Ah! Yes! Hmmm. Feels like a 1470 Burgundy. Not a good year.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • It happens in Braveheart (1995): Mel Gibson's childhood pal Hamish and his father Campbell have just helped Mel defeat the local English lord, but Campbell sustained a wound in the process. He's blind drunk on whisky awaiting his son and friends helping him to "Heal It With Fire". After a comedy moment where first one, and then a second clansmen say "Here, you do it, [cauterise the wound with the poker], I'll hold him down!", Campbell asks Hamish to pour some on the wound first: "Pour it straight in the wound, boy. I know it seems like a waste of good whiskey, but indulge me."
  • In the beginning of Cowboys and Aliens, Meacham the preacher pours whiskey over Lonergan's wound before stitching it up.
  • In Death Proof, toward the end Stuntman Mike sterilises a wound with some liquor.
  • In The Final Sacrifice, Rowsdower pours a drink on a branded mark.
  • Done in the beginning of John Carpenter's The Thing. The Norwegian shoots a character in the leg and they're given a flask of booze that they take a swig from before pouring it over the wound.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novel Death Or Glory he has a tracker who's helping guide their convoy to safety give his stash of whisky to the vet they've got working as a doctor (both because he's probably running out of antiseptic and because he wants to keep their tracker sober).
  • In West of Honor, the main character gets a minor wound, but due to an alien fungus has to get sent back to base to receive weeks of treatment. He later meets with a Private who was also wounded in the same battle, but got out earlier. It turns out the soldier used Brandy to disinfect the wound.
  • Variation in the Destroyermen novels. The Lemurians use the paste left over from fermenting polta fruit to make seep as an antiseptic and topical anesthetic.
  • In the first book of David Eddings' The Elenium, Sparhawk does first aid on one of his companions by scrubbing the wound out with some cheap wine before bandaging it. When he gets back to base, Sephrenia, the team's medic/sorceress, is less than impressed.
  • Everworld: April tries to treat Galahad's wounds and start a blood transfusion with limited 20th-century knowledge. She orders someone to get wine instead of water, as the water being germ-free is dubious at best.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, there are some instances of rudimentary surgery/medical care performed wherein a wound is sterilized with heated or boiled wine. Justified, since it is a Medieval European Fantasy, so there are no other antiseptics around.
  • In The Stainless Steel Rat Is Born, after his friend is injured, the protagonist treats him with moonshine in some widow's home.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
  • In an episode of Burn Notice, Michael gets trapped in a bank robbery with Special Agent Bly. Bly goes cowboy and gets winged in the arm for his trouble, and Michael starts pretending to be a doctor. While treating Bly, he pours vodka over the wound both to disinfect and to punish him for being a jerk.
  • In one episode of the Russian TV series Dalnoboischiki ("Truckers") a provincial doctor complains that he has to use vodka as both disinfectant and anesthetic, since he has no real medical drugs.
  • In The Dukes of Hazzard the two protagonists are on probation for running moonshine for their uncle. He no longer does the bootlegging, but he's stated to still distill a little, "for medicinal purposes."
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Spectre of the Gun". Morgan Earp punches Captain Kirk in the face and injures his lip. McCoy treats Kirk by touching his lip with a cloth and Kirk flinches.
    McCoy: What's the matter?
    Kirk: What do you call that stuff? Fire?
    McCoy: Taos Lightning straight bourbon.
  • In Serenity, after being shot through the leg by a Reaver harpoon, Jayne busies himself by pouring his flask over his leg wound... and then taking a swig.
  • Sam & Dean Winchester from Supernatural have used this method for years. Demonstrated one time when they were Trapped in TV Land on "Dr. Sexy, MD" - Doctor Dean got shot and Doctor Sam had to operate.
    "I need a pen knife, some dental floss, a sewing needle, and a fifth of whiskey. Stat!"
  • Disney's The Swamp Fox series has one of these in the episode 'Tory Vengeance'. Francis Marion gives some to his nephew as an anesthetic after the boy is shot-sadly, he can't do anything for the wound. Justifed, though, as it was the 1700s, and medical care as we know it didn't exist.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:New Media]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • In one Celebrity Deathmatch, Sylvester Stallone cauterised a wound by pouring alcohol on it and then lighting it on fire, causing the judges to reverse their opinions about him not being a badass.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]] [[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 69
  • December 8, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Sam & Dean Winchester from Supernatural have used this method for years. Demonstrated one time when they were Trapped In TV Land on "Dr. Sexy, MD" - Doctor Dean got shot and Doctor Sam had to operate.
    I need a pen knife, some dental floss, a sewing needle, and a fifth of whiskey. Stat!
  • December 8, 2011
    Omeganian
    In The Stainless Steel Rat Is Born, after his friend is injured, the protagonist treats him in some widow's home. Moonshine is used.

    Fazil Iskander describes villagers opening an abscess on a cow's belly and disinfecting it with chacha.
  • December 8, 2011
    McKathlin
    The good Samaritan, seeing a man nearly dead, "bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine." (Luke 10:34)
  • December 9, 2011
    MorganWick
    Your laconic is so clumsily written that I initially thought this was its inverse, drinking medicinal alcohol.
  • December 9, 2011
    Columbina
    Better now?
  • December 9, 2011
    aurora369
    In one episode of the Russian TV series Dalnoboischiki ("Truckers") a provincial doctor complains that he has to use vodka as both disinfectant and anesthetic, since he has no real medical drugs.
  • December 9, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Hmm. I can think of historical examples (British besieged in India using champagne as anaesthesia for amputations), but no fictional ones.
  • December 9, 2011
    Antigone3
    Didn't McCoy use booze as an antiseptic in "Spectre of the Gun"? Or am I misremembering?
  • December 9, 2011
    lamoxlamae
    Video Games
    • In Fallout New Vegas if you have Sharon "Rose" Cassidy as your companion booze now heals you and can give you water points without getting you drunk. Apparently she has been a merchant so long she has learned how to use alcohol for basically everything from cleaning wounds to stopping dehydration.
  • December 9, 2011
    Generality
    I believe this was used in field treatment during the American Civil War, but I can't be certain.

    • In one Celebrity Deathmatch, Sylvester Stallone cauterised a wound by pouring alcohol on it and then lighting it on fire, causing the judges to reverse their opinions about him not being a badass.
    • In Death Proof, toward the end Stuntman Mike sterilises a wound with some liquor.
  • December 10, 2011
    Arivne
    ^^^ @Antigone3: You remember correctly.

    Live Action TV
    • Star Trek The Original Series episode "Spectre of the Gun". Morgan Earp punches Captain Kirk in the face and injures his lip. McCoy treats Kirk by touching his lip with a cloth and Kirk flinches.
    McCoy: What's the matter?
    Kirk: What do you call that stuff? Fire?
    McCoy: Taos Lightning straight bourbon.
  • December 10, 2011
    TonyG
    In The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, Esmeralda uses a bottle of wine on Phoebus' wounds.
    Phoebus: Great, I could use a drink. [cries in pain as she pours in on wound] AA Ah! Yes! Hmmm. Feels like a 1470 Burgundy. Not a good year.
  • December 10, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    • This is the normal way to treat a wound in A Song Of Ice And Fire. Though in this case, they always boil the wine first, to help with sterilization.
  • December 10, 2011
    Bisected8
  • December 10, 2011
    morgulknight1
    In the first book of David Eddings' Elenium, Sparhawk does first aid on one of his companions by scrubbing the wound out with some cheap wine before bandaging it. When he gets back to base, Sephrenia, the team's medic/sorceress, is less than impressed.
  • December 10, 2011
    reub2000
    The Myth Busters tried to use vodka to treat poison ivy. Myth Busted!
  • December 13, 2011
    TiggersAreGreat
    Video Games

    • STALKER: As you go through the game, you will suffer all manner of injuries, including radiation exposure. No problem, just crack out the vodka and all injuries will be healed!
  • December 13, 2011
    pcw2727
    Happens in Bad Santa
  • December 13, 2011
    Reflextion
    Webcomics
    Please do not pour beer on your wounds and tell your legal guardian that I was the one who suggested it.
  • December 13, 2011
    BooleanEarth
    Done in the beginning of John Carpenter's The Thing. The Swede Norwegian shoots a character in the leg and they're given a flask of booze that they take a swig from before pouring it over the wound.
  • December 13, 2011
    TechUnadept
    many survival guides advocate bringing a flask of rum along as an anitseptic, but not as a beverage as alcohol is very dehydrating.
  • December 13, 2011
    ShadowSon
    It happens in Braveheart (1995): Mel Gibson's childhood pal Hamish and his father Campbell have just helped Mel defeat the local English lord, but Campbell sustained a wound in the process. He's blind drunk on whisky awaiting his son and friends helping him to "Heal It With Fire". After a comedy moment where first one, and then a second clansmen say "Here, you do it, [cauterise the wound with the poker], I'll hold him down!", Campbell asks Hamish to pour some on the wound first: "Pour it straight in the wound, boy. I know it seems like a waste of good whiskey, but indulge me."
  • December 13, 2011
    ShadowSon
    cf. My previous comment: the comedy moment of poker deferment is described in the "Delegation Relay" section, topped off with a "Hilarity Ensues". If you're interested.
  • December 13, 2011
    Topazan
    Re: Fallout New Vegas
    • Also, there's one quest where the player can work out a supply deal between a charitable organization called the Followers Of The Apocolypse and the Garret twins, who run the local den of sin and vice. The Garrets offer to supply the Followers with painkillers and other chemicals if the followers help them maintain their whiskey stills. They point out that the Followers could also use of the extra grain alcohol as a surgical disinfectant.
  • December 23, 2011
    TBeholder
    In a pinch alcohol beverages are used as disinfectant, journals are used as toilet paper, chairs are used (gasp) not only to sit on them, but as stepstools. Yes, but where's a trope in that?
  • January 6, 2012
    reub2000
    When journals are used as toilet paper, it's usually the character's way of making a comment on the journal. If it's not here, then someone should create a YKTTW.
  • January 6, 2012
    SmashingMelons42
    • Inverted in an episode of Moral Orel where Clay drinks a bottle of rubbing alcohol.
  • August 19, 2012
    MasterNemesis
    In the beginning of Cowboys And Aliens, Meacham the preacher pours whiskey over Lonergan's wound before stitching it up.
  • August 19, 2012
    surgoshan
    • In an episode of Burn Notice, Michael gets trapped in a bank robbery with Special Agent Bly. Bly goes cowboy and gets winged in the arm for his trouble, and Michael starts pretending to be a doctor. While treating Bly, he pours vodka over the wound both to disinfect and to punish him for being a jerk.
  • August 19, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Real life example: A woman was injured in a car accident before boarding a flight--she didn't know how badly she was injured. A doctor aboard the plane found himself having to make emergency surgery in mid-flight, and used a bottle of cognac as a disinfectant.
  • August 19, 2012
    kjnoren
    This is Truth In Television. Alcohol has a long history of being used as a (crappy) analgesic, and it is a quite effective disinfectant. However, alcohol has the trouble of being a too effective antiseptic - when used in open wounds it is harmful to the healing tissue. That's why it's only recommended to use alcohol on intact skin nowadays.
  • August 19, 2012
    MrRuano
    • Duke Nukem Forever allows Duke to down a can of beer for a bit of health as well as slowing everything down and allowing Duke to take a bit more punishment than usual.
    • Deus Ex also allows the player to drink to replenish health, but it does mess with their vision.
  • August 19, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Dungeons And Dragons Drunken Master prestige class allows you to heal by drinking alcohol.
  • August 20, 2012
    Psuliin
    For a title, how about Strictly For Medicinal Purposes?
  • August 20, 2012
    shellimouto
    In Serenity, after being shot through the leg by a Reaver harpoon, Jayne busies himself by pouring his flask over his leg wound... and then taking a swing.
  • August 21, 2012
    captainsandwich
    their is an alcohol marketed for the purpose of things like this, its called rubbing alcohol. Also inverted in Simpsons when Lenny drinks rubbing alcohol.
  • January 22, 2013
    MacronNotes
    Since this seems abandoned I'm going to adopt it.
  • January 22, 2013
    Bisected8
    ^^ Rubbing alcohol isn't the same as drinking alcohol.

    Alcohols are a group of chemicals defined by chains of carbon and hydrogen with a hydroxyl functional group somewhere on it. Without turning this into a lecture on organic chemistry, drinking alcohol (as produced by fermentation of sugar and yeast) is called ethanol. Drinking any other sort is a bad idea (rubbing alcohol is Isopropyl Alcohol or ethanol with a bit of methanol added to make it undrinkable). I'd assume that this trope only covers drinking alcoho being used for medicinal purposes.
  • January 22, 2013
    StarSword
    Anime and Manga:
    • Shaman King: Horohoro uses sake as a disinfectant after tangling with a bear in Colorado.
  • January 22, 2013
    Sheora
    I work for a medical museum, so I'll give you the real life facts on this.

    Alcohol is a terrible anesthesia. It is a blood thinner. Not exactly what you want to give a patient before a surgery. Besides that, it tends to make people belligerent and uncooperative which doesn't make for a compliant patient. Historically, soldiers could be severely punished if they were caught drinking before operations. It was preferable to just get five or six guys to hold the patient down and get it done as quickly as possible (surgeries were restricted to four minutes or less to reduce the chances of shock or infection). It can be good as an emergency antiseptic, but cleaning with hot soap and water is preferred when it is available.
  • January 22, 2013
    RoninCatholic
    Not sure we want a snowclone, particularly of a memetastic and oft-misused trope. Needs A Better Name?
  • January 23, 2013
    Larkmarn
    The video game examples don't count, those are examples of a Booze Based Buff.
  • January 23, 2013
    dvorak
    • Many a survival guide advocates bringing some high-proof alcohol along for this, but warns against actually drinking it, as it both dehydrates you (desert survival) and cools you off (tundra survival).
    • Alcoholic beverages, such as hot toddy's and hot buttered rum were once used to treat colds and flues. Not so much anymore, since, as mentioned before, they dehydrate you.
  • January 23, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    Film: The Frisco Kid, by Harrison Ford's character.
  • January 24, 2013
    Chabal2
    Everworld: April tries to treat Galahad's wounds and start a blood transfusion with limited 20th-century knowledge. She orders someone to get wine instead of water, as the water being germ-free is dubious at best.
  • January 24, 2013
    StarSword
    Description needs work. First of all, it could do with another paragraph. Second, the term you want is "antiseptic", not "anesthetic". The one disinfects, the other knocks you out.
  • January 24, 2013
    sgamer82
    • Subverted in an episode of Irresponsible Captain Tylor, where the ship's doctor considers using his personal stash when crew injuries are piling up. He considers it, takes a swig, then decides it'd be a waste.
  • January 24, 2013
    Thecommander236
    Truth In Television. To treat a bullet wound you can pull out the bullet with a knife, clean it with alcohol, and cauterize it close. Then you just bandage it. It hurts, but it works.
  • January 24, 2013
    DracMonster
    Boozeseptic (Alco-septic "puns" better but may lack clarity. And sounds like alkaseltzer.)
  • January 24, 2013
    robinjohnson
    Does this also apply to using booze to heal machines?
    • A mechanical example: Doc Brown tries putting whiskey in the DeLorean's tank in Back To The Future Part III when they're out of gas in the Old West. It makes the exhaust fall off.
  • March 26, 2013
    nitrokitty
    In Dungeons And Dragons 3rd edition, the Drunken Master prestige class could drink booze to heal themselves.
  • March 26, 2013
    DRCEQ
    Truth In Television: medical science has found that certain forms of alcohol actually benefit the body and promote health when used wisely. Drinking a glass of wine, or even a can of beer, can help strengthen your heart. Only one though, any more and you risk the usual bad effects. There's also the universal fact that most forms of alcohol are powerful antiseptics, good for cleaning wounds of bacteria.
  • March 26, 2013
    chicagomel
    Disney's The Swamp Fox series has one of these in the episode 'Tory Vengeance'. Francis Marion gives some to his nephew as an anesthetic after the boy is shot-sadly, he can't do anything for the wound. Justifed, though, as it was the 1700s, and medical care as we know it didn't exist. (Live action tv)
  • March 27, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    Real Life Example: There was a case in 1995 where a woman had severe chest pains and breathlessness while the airplane was in flight (she'd had an accident earlier, and her injuries caused a tension pneumothorax) . Two doctors diagnosed this and performed surgery that MacGuyver would be proud of. Cognac was used as a disinfectant. The patient quickly recovered, was taken to hospital when the plane landed in London and recouperated quite nicely. The surgeon celebrated the successful operation by drinking the rest of the brandy.
  • April 4, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Throw the Booze Based Buff Larkmarn mentioned somewhere in the description, since these two are definitely related and, as we have already seen, there is a danger of mixing these two.
  • April 4, 2013
    Hodor
    • In A Song Of Ice And Fire, there are some instances of rudimentary surgery/medical care performed wherein a wound is sterilized with heated or boiled wine. Justified, since it is a Medieval European Fantasy, so there are no other antiseptics around.
  • April 7, 2013
    Gatomon41
    • In West of Honor, the main character gets a minor wound, but due to an alien fungus has to get sent back to base to receive weeks of treatment. He later meets with a Private who was also wounded in the same battle, but got out earlier. It turns out the soldier used Brandy to disinfect the wound.
  • April 7, 2013
    nitrokitty
    I like For Medicinal Purposes as a title.
  • April 8, 2013
    Bisected8
    Hmm, could the OP clarify why roughly half the given examples have been left out? If they don't count it would be helpful to know why.
  • April 8, 2013
    MacronNotes
    ^ It's not because they don't count or anything, I'm still adding the examples.

  • April 8, 2013
    willthiswork
    The description really needs to be more clear about weither it is talking about antiseptic or anesthesia. The first paragraph is about one and the second is about the other and there the transition makes it sound like they are the same thing (in real life, however...).
  • April 8, 2013
    MacronNotes
    ^ I'll try to work on that description, too.
  • April 10, 2013
    StarSword
    Literature:
    • Variation in the Destroyermen novels. The Lemurians use the paste left over from fermenting polta fruit to make seep as an antiseptic and topical anesthetic.
  • April 10, 2013
    DracMonster
    • In The Dukes Of Hazzard the two protagonists are on probation for running moonshine for their uncle. He no longer does the bootlegging, but he's stated to still distill a little, "for medicinal purposes."

    Also, another vote for For Medicinal Purposes
  • April 10, 2013
    XFllo
    I dislike For Medicinal Purposes because it doesn't say anything about the alcohol. I think I prefer current working title (Heal It With Booze). Or it could be something like Alcohol For Healing or Booze As Medicine, but they feel kind of bland.

    Good trope, though.

    There are lots of relevant examples in the discussion which are not in the draft. Anyone willing to do Rolling Updates?
  • May 26, 2013
    Melkior
    Television:
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, The Final Mission, Captain Picard and Wesley Crusher crash-land and are stranded on a desert moon along with the shuttle pilot. Picard confiscates an alcoholic beverage from the shuttle pilot, stating that it would be better used as an antiseptic and drinking it will only increase dehydration (correct, see the Real Life examples).
  • May 26, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    Could lead to a Bandage Wince.
  • May 26, 2013
    TheTitan99
    In The Final Sacrifice, Rowsdower pours a drink on a branded mark.
  • May 26, 2013
    MacronNotes
    I'm going to launch this tomorrow.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=a5kutd388947nq7aypwkxqh4