majjanti tadubhayameva madaniyaṭṭhena majjaṃ, yaṃ vā panaññampi kiñci atthi madaniyaṃ, yena pītena matto hoti pamatto, idaṃ vuccati majjaṃ.
The meaning of "majja" is: the very pair of those (surā and meraya) are "majja" in the sense of being intoxicants, or whatever other substance there is that is an intoxicant, by the drinking of which one is intoxicated and heedless, this is called "majja".pamādaṭṭhānanti yāya cetanāya taṃ pivati ajjhoharati, sā cetanā madappamādahetuto pamādaṭṭhānanti vuccati, yato ajjhoharaṇādhippāyena kāyadvārappavattā surāmerayamajjānaṃ ajjhoharaṇacetanā "surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhāna"nti veditabbā.
The meaning of "pamādaṭṭhāna" is: by whatever intention one drinks them, swallows them, that intention is called "pamādaṭṭhāna" through being a cause for intoxication and heedlessness. From the passing through the bodily orifice due to the purposeful swallowing, the intention in swallowing surā and meraya should be understood as "surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhāna".
-- KN KhP 2. sikkhāpadavaṇṇanā purimapañcasikkhāpadavaṇṇanā
Hope I got the translation right.
In light of this, I think it would be also wrong to advise any medicine causing intoxication be taken by those keeping this precept. The allowance for monks specifically states, as quoted twice now, that alcohol-based medicine is for use only as long as "na vaṇṇo na gandho na raso paññāyati" - the colour, smell and taste are not evident (Mahāvagga VI.14.1), meaning that at the time of taking there is no alcohol left (it having evapourated). What's funny is that, according to Thanissaro, "from this point, the Vinaya-mukha argues that morphine and other narcotics used as pain killers are allowable as well."
I don't have the Vinaya mukha (a Thai summary of and commentary on the Vinaya) handy, but it hardly seems to follow; the reason for the Buddha disallowing colour, smell and taste of alcohol is obviously not because of the colour, smell and taste themselves, but because of his immediately preceding injunction: "na, bhikkhave, atipakkhittamajjaṃ telaṃ pātabbaṃ." Which means, "oil with excess majja mixed in is not to be ingested." Here the medicine is the oil, not the majja - the latter being simply a necessary ingredient in the cooking (pāka) process that evapourates by the end, so the only way this could suggest allowing morphine is in regards to a case where morphine was a necessary part of the mixing process of a different nonintoxicating medicine, through which process the morphine was rendered impotent.
On a path where death is to be faced with courage, where is the room for painkillers to dull sickness, let alone a glass of sherry to dull anxiety?