A lethal cocktail – shining a light on the relationship between alcohol use and pesticide self-poisoning

A commentary exploring the harmful relationship between alcohol and pesticide self-poisoning.

Authors: Lisa Schölin, Jane Brandt Sørensen & Michael Eddleston
Published in: Clinical Toxicology



Alcohol and pesticides are toxic substances that each cause acute and chronic harm to humans. Alcohol plays an important and complex role in pesticide self-poisoning, involving toxicological, public health, and social aspects important for research, prevention, and interventions.

Alcohol use disorder and social harms

While the evidence on alcohol co-ingestion in the context of pesticide self-poisoning is limited, it appears that alcohol use increases complications. Even fewer studies address alcohol use disorder and dependence among pesticide self-poisoning patients. The harmful use of alcohol also impacts social life, families, and communities in several ways, including pesticide self-poisoning among individuals around the alcohol user. This, however, is vastly understudied.

Outside influences

Agrochemicals and alcohol are produced by industries with financial interests, and the outcome of individual acts of pesticide self-poisoning depends on the lethality of the pesticide purchased and ingested. The promotion of acutely toxic pesticides by companies must be acknowledged within this issue.


The relationship between alcohol and pesticide self-poisoning is increasingly clear, but more studies are needed to guide management. We cannot ignore that pesticide self-poisoning and harmful use of alcohol occur within the context of wider, often structural, stressors and are influenced by commercial entities.