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The Dangers of Drinking Absinthe

dangers of drinking absinthe

Absinthe has played both small and major roles in over 40 films since 1899 when it appeared in the French silent film: Wonderful Absinthe. In the early 19th century, absinthe’s appearance in film may have been for propaganda. There was a lot of truth to the glamorization and criminalization of absinthe in movies. The fact of the matter is that absinthe is a highly potent liquor, which in many cases, can give a person more complications than some other liquors. Many people who use or abuse absinthe become addicted, leading to the need of an alcohol addiction treatment program, such as the one at Vertava Health. 

What Is Absinthe?

Absinthe is made of distilled grains and green anise, wormwood oil, fennel, and other herbs. It’s usually over 45 percent alcohol, which is about 90 proof. Developed in Switzerland in 1792, absinthe hit the market and first took over Europe, but nowhere as much as it did France. The drink didn’t reach the United States until 1878.

Absinthe is generally referred to as the Green Fairy because of its emerald green color. It’s bottled with extremely high alcohol content, but it’s poured over ice cubes and sugar cubes when someone drinks it. Sometimes the drink is even further diluted with water.

Absinthe tastes like black licorice mixed with a bit of an herbal aroma. Anise, which tastes similar to licorice, is one of the primary flavors of the drink. However, well-made absinthes have a complex herbal flavor that tastes like more than simply licorice candy. It typically has a mild bitterness.

Effects of Absinthe

Absinthe has a relatively high alcohol content, so a person can get drunk off of it fairly easily. Some experts believe that drinking absinthe drives people mad. One theory was that the thujone in absinthe is the reason for the mania that absinthe caused in the past. Thujone may result in


  • Slow reaction times 
  • Impaired ability to pay attention
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations for some people

However, further research indicates that absinthe’s high alcohol concentration is a more likely culprit for these side effects, rather than just thujone. In addition, the drink caused manic, even delirious behavior. Recent studies show that absinthism was associated with many other problematic symptoms, including gastrointestinal problems, epilepsy, brain damage, increased psychiatric illness, and suicide risk.

Absinthe Addiction, or Absinthism

In the early 19th century, absinthe was a social drink in France, and on a daily basis, people could be found drinking it to excess. Like any other drug that someone uses regularly, addiction and drug dependence are probably the next stop. A particular condition—absinthism—stood alongside the emerging reports of alcoholism. Alcoholism is an inability to stop drinking alcohol even after dire consequences arise in one’s life. These consequences may include: 

  • Health complications
  • Failed marriage or relationships
  • Loss of employment or home
  • Poor performance at work or home
  • Legal problems

These symptoms indicate that alcoholism is a disease.

Is Absinthe Deadly?

Like most alcoholic drinks, absinthe has the potential to be highly dangerous. However, there is evidence proving that absinthe was also causing societal issues. Nowadays, the legal stuff doesn’t use much thujone, and it doesn’t exclusively cause hallucinations. Abusing high alcohol content (or any alcohol for that matter) is dangerous. Binge drinking absinthe is ill-advised and can lead to alcohol poisoning and death.

Because it contains between 45 to 76 percent alcohol and, in some cases, even upwards of 89 percent, absinthe is highly potent. You would really have to drink only a small amount of it to avoid alcohol abuse because getting drunk on alcohol, by the definition of the term, is considered to be abuse.

Today, our knowledge of organ damage, neurotoxicity, and diverse psychiatric results of excessive alcohol use has increased. As a result, the possibility emerges that absinthism was simply just acute alcohol intoxication, withdrawal symptoms, dependence, and other psychological issues. These symptoms are major health and social problems, but they are not unique to this drink.

High alcohol content can lead to health issues like:

Do You Need Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

In reality, alcohol use happens more than many people would like to admit. Alcohol use and binge drinking don’t always lead to disorders and diseases, but it makes them more likely. Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself to determine whether or not you might have an alcohol use disorder:

  • Have you had times when you ended up drinking more or longer than you intended?
  • Have you ever wanted to cut down or stop drinking or tried to but couldn’t?
  • Do you spend a lot of time drinking, being sick, or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Have you experienced cravings or a strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • Do you find that drinking, or being sick from drinking, has often interfered with taking care of your home or family?
  • Have you continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Have you given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you or gave you pleasure in order to drink?
  • Do you continue to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious or adds to another health problem?
  • Have you had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Do you find that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? 

Seek Treatment for an Alcohol Use Disorder at Vertava Health 

Not everyone who drinks absinthe does so to excess, and not everyone will develop a substance use disorder. Whether or not you have a problem is dependent on the individual, but if you feel that you do, you’ve found yourself in the right place. If you have questions about a loved one’s potential problem with alcohol, or even your own, contact us today. Call Vertava Health at 844.470.0410 to speak to a caring professional and to find out more about absinthe. Recovery from alcoholism might not be easy, but it can be simple.