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Most items under Adventuring Gear (pg 150 of PHB) either explicitly state that they require an action (the Use Object action, to be specific) to use (eg. Caltrops, Holy Water, Climber's Kit) or obviously don't require an action in an of themselves, but could be used in general roleplaying ways (eg. Block and Tackle, a Book, a Crowbar).

The 2 exceptions seem to be Healing potions and Antitoxins.

Healing Potions are covered in the DMG and fall under Use Magic Item (an action), but nothing is said about Antitoxins.

Does it take an action to drink an Antitoxin, or how can one drink one otherwise?

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RAW, it appears to be usable as the free object interaction on your turn.

In the SRD, a Potion of Healing has the following description (emphasis mine):

A character who drinks the magical red fluid in this vial regains 2d4 + 2 hit points. Drinking or administering a potion takes an action.

Crawford confirms that drinking a Potion of Healing is the "Use Magic Item" action.

Conversely, this is the SRD description for Antitoxin:

A creature that drinks this vial of liquid gains advantage on saving throws against poison for 1 hour. It confers no benefit to undead or constructs.

It neither describes Antitoxin as magical, nor specifies that it requires an action. It also is not described as a potion, so the blanket potion rule in the DMG (drinking or administering a potion requires an action) doesn't appear to apply.

Antitoxin is also not listed in the magic item section of the DMG where every other RAW potion is included.

So, it appears that this is a free object interaction. The reason this is not explicitly forbidden is possibly because Antitoxin only grants advantage on saving throws against poison. Drinking multiple antitoxins has no effect, so there's no strong reason to explicitly limit it to one per turn as with other potions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It'd presumably only use your free object interaction to retrieve the antitoxin, unless you already had it out; nothing suggests that retrieving and drinking it would be part of the same action/interaction. You'd still need to take the Use an Object action to then drink it (which, unless you are a Thief rogue, you can only do as an action) - or you'd need to wait until your next turn and use your free object interaction to do it. The same would be true of drinking any other nonmagical substance in combat (when action economy matters). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 15 '18 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I think that's a distinct enough perspective that you should consider posting it as an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Aug 15 '18 at 22:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder: Done, thanks for the suggestion. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 15 '18 at 23:01
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No specific guidance is stated

There's nothing specific about the action economy of using a vial of antitoxin in the Adventuring Gear section of the basic rules (or the corresponding section of the PHB). The description merely says:

Antitoxin. A creature that drinks this vial of liquid gains advantage on saving throws against poison for 1 hour. It confers no benefit to undead or constructs.

It's not called out as magical, so it would simply involve the use of an object.

Interacting with nonmagical objects

As part of your turn, you can interact with one object for free (also known as your "free object interaction"), with any additional interactions requiring the Use an Object action:

You can also interact with one object or feature of the environment for free, during either your move or your action. For example, you could open a door during your move as you stride toward a foe, or you could draw your weapon as part of the same action you use to attack.

If you want to interact with a second object, you need to use your action. Some magic items and other special objects always require an action to use, as stated in their descriptions.

The Use an Object action is described in more detail here:

You normally interact with an object while doing something else, such as when you draw a sword as part of an attack. When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use an Object action. This action is also useful when you want to interact with more than one object on your turn.

Some examples of what you might use your object interaction for are given in this sidebar:

Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in tandem with your movement and action:

[...]

  • withdraw a potion from your backpack
  • pick up a dropped axe
  • take a bauble from a table
  • remove a ring from your finger
  • stuff some food into your mouth
  • plant a banner in the ground
  • fish a few coins from your belt pouch
  • drink all the ale in a flagon

As you can see, it takes an object interaction to retrieve an item you don't already have out (whether from the ground or your pack). Alternately, you can use an object interaction to consume a consumable item that you already have out.

The action economy of antitoxins

You have one free object interaction per turn; any additional interactions require the Use an Object action.

It would presumably use your free object interaction to just retrieve the antitoxin, unless you already had it out. Nothing suggests that retrieving and drinking it would be part of the same action/interaction.

Once you have taken the antitoxin out, you'd still need to take the Use an Object action to then drink it. Assuming you've already used your free object interaction to take the antitoxin vial out, you can only consume it by taking the Use an Object action as your action. (Unless you are a Thief rogue; their Fast Hands feature lets them take the Use an Object action as a bonus action.) Otherwise, you'd need to wait until your next turn and use your free object interaction to do it on that turn instead.

The same would be true of drinking any other nonmagical substance in combat (i.e. when action economy matters). You'd need to withdraw it first with one object interaction, then take the Use an Object action to consume it or wait to use your free object interaction on your next turn.

In short: 1 object interaction to take the antitoxin out, another one to consume it. Since you have only one free object interaction per turn, doing both on the same turn would require you to take the Use an Object action.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the good answer. You might want to clean up the last section to clarify that drinking it would be a free object interaction (subject to the 1 per turn limit, as always). That information is kind of buried right now, and it is exactly what I was looking for. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Aug 16 '18 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Having "drink all the ale in a flagon" as an example object interaction makes a strong argument to me that "drink some liquid in a container" should default to being an object interaction if there isn't a more specific rule that says otherwise. \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Aug 16 '18 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KamilDrakari: "Drink some liquid in a container" is an object interaction, but so is "pick up/retrieve [an item]". You can't drink the vial until you have it out. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 16 '18 at 17:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I was intending to say "this portion of your answer is what convinced me it's entirely right". Reading my comment again, it does not convey that clearly, and instead reads like disagreement. \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Aug 16 '18 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KamilDrakari: Ah, okay. :) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 16 '18 at 19:16

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