In hospital a few years ago, I met a man who needed to take anticoagulation medicine daily. However, he had some sort of stomach enzyme that prevented him absorbing the medicine. As a result, daily, an hour beforehand he'd announce he was taking his 'first medicine' and drank a glass of white wine (which the doctors had noted would inhibit the enzyme). (excuse my medical terms, I'm relaying second hand).

Anyway, the question is - if he wants to travel to a dry (as in no alcohol) country, like Iran, or Brunei - could he, if he needs the alcohol? Would a doctor's letter be enough?

  • 4
    Sounds like an excuse to drink to me. Doubtful if it is real.
    – Aganju
    Mar 31, 2018 at 3:03
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    @Aganju I watched the doctor prescribe it to him.
    – Mark Mayo
    Mar 31, 2018 at 4:51
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    @MarkMayo my wife's a doctor and she just said "bollocks". Chances are, he just got a friendly doctor to write him a prescription allowing him a glass of wine a day while he was in hospital - my wife has done similar for patients (but they would need to supply their own alcohol - hospital pharmacies don't carry wine, beer etc but they do carry a few spirits as those are prescribable for conditions such as methanol poisoning). There are better enzyme inhibitors than alcohol available.
    – user29788
    Mar 31, 2018 at 23:07
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    @MarkMayo note that your question is very similar to that of any other question involving prohibited treatments such as opiate based medications etc and travel to largely the same countries - for a good selection of such drugs, there is no exemption for carrying them and you may be prosecuted and jailed - there is no difference for the outcome in this question.
    – user29788
    Mar 31, 2018 at 23:09
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    Good luck getting that excuse through Saudi Customs Apr 1, 2018 at 2:51

3 Answers 3


Whether any country will recognize the user of alcohol for medicinal purposes presumably depends on that country's medical regulators. Dry countries might allow the user of alcohol on a foreign doctor's prescription, or they might require the prescription of a doctor licensed to practice medicine in that country, or the regulator might only approve alternative therapies (for example, to interfere with the enzyme in question) that do not involve alcohol.


It will depend on the country. In Brunei for instance, non-Muslims can import twelve cans of beer and 2 bottles of liquor, every 48 hours (when doing a Labuan run for instance). You can only consume the alcohol inside your residence, hotel, etc... You won't be able to buy any in-country.

Other countries can be stricter, and it would prove dangerous to break the law. But in all muslim countries, doctor's orders won't fly, especially a foreign doctor. A person needing alcohol for medical reasons would have as much leverage as a person with a cannabis prescription in Singapore. Zilch.

  • Can you explain what your answer is based on, and give references if possible? Personal experience, educated guess, published laws and guidelines, third-party articles, ...? When an answer just has categorical statements without evidence, it tends to trigger the reaction "Why should we believe you?" I would guess this is the reason for the downvotes you were complaining about. Mar 31, 2018 at 21:48
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    I work in the alcohol business, especially with duty-free places like Labuan, covering Asia. So I have extensive esperience with this. But why should you believe me right.
    – user67108
    Apr 1, 2018 at 1:39
  • I see. Perhaps you could mention that in your answer? Apr 1, 2018 at 2:01
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    I believe that's rather pointless, as it is an unprovable point. Negative people who spend their time downvoting instead of contributing won't be changed by this. This is getting tiring.
    – user67108
    Apr 1, 2018 at 2:07

If the person in question truly needs alcohol as medicine, it would be best to purchase it in a medical container rather than carrying a bottle of whiskey in your luggage. It is best to ask the doctor in your country about how to obtain medicinal alcohol, but I expect it to be packaged similar to ethanol used for scientific research:

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Of course, you'd still have to declare it as a medicine at each border, but I expect the border guards to be more lenient if it appears as something that could actually be used for treatment.

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