Absinthe alcohol is a very potent liquor that has been reported to induce hallucinations and result in euphoria. It may also be associated with dangerous consequences related to acute alcohol intoxication. Absinth has all the potential adverse effects of drinking alcohol—in some cases, maybe more.
What Is Absinthe Alcohol?
Absinthe is produced from distilled grains and green anise, wormwood oil, fennel, and other herbs. It’s comprised of anywhere between 45-75% alcohol or 90-150 proof. Absinthe was developed in Switzerland in 1792 but didn’t reach the U.S. until 1878.
Absinthe is usually found as an emerald green color. The traditional method of consumption is to pour it over ice or sugar cubes. Sometimes it’s further diluted with water to improve the taste, which is similar to black licorice mixed with various herbs.
Absinthe was illegal in the U.S. from 1912-2007. It is currently legal, but only when produced with little or no thujone. Thujone is an oily fragrant substance, naturally found in a variety of many plants and flowers. In absinthe, this substance is the ingredient believed to contribute to the drink’s unusual mind-altering effects.
Effects of Absinthe Alcohol
As noted, absinthe has a very high alcohol content, typically higher than standard liquors like rum or vodka. Moreover, one can presume that it’s potential for causing high levels of intoxication is also very high.
In research, thujone has been shown to slow reaction times and impair attention capabilities. It may also induce visual or auditory hallucinations among some people. One study suggested that thujone’s effect on GABA receptors was likely the culprit for many of these effects.
Absinthe and Hallucinations
Absinthe containing a significant amount of thujone was, in the past, believed to sometimes lead to mania or delirium. Recent studies show that absinthe abuse has been associated with hallucinations, brain damage, and increased risk of mental illness and suicidality.
Alcoholism is defined as the inability to stop drinking even after adverse consequences have occurred in a person’s life. These consequences may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Physical health problems
- Psychiatric disorders
- Strained relationships
- Financial or legal issues
- Loss of employment
- Poorer quality of life
Alcoholism related to the abuse of any substance is a disease characterized by tolerance, dependence, and compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Tolerance occurs due to the body’s propensity to diminish the effects of substances following repeated use.
Dependence develops over time as a substance is abused regularly. The brain and body adapt to the substance’s presence and becomes unable to function correctly in its absence. The result of this condition is the onset of unpleasant and possibly life-threatening withdrawal effects when use is stopped.
Health-Related Issues Associated with Absinthe
According to the National Institutes of Health:
“As our knowledge of multiple organ damage, neurotoxicity, and diverse psychiatric [conditions related to] excessive alcohol use has increased, the possibility emerges that much of the syndrome of absinthism was actually acute alcohol intoxication, withdrawal, dependence, and other neuropsychiatric complications.”
In other words, the major health and social issues related to absinthe use are not unique to absinthe. The excessive abuse of any kind of alcohol, especially long-term, can result in many health problems. These problems include, but are not limited to, heart disease, liver cirrhosis, kidney failure, and brain damage.
What Is Alcoholism?
Although alcohol abuse and binge drinking will not always lead to dependence, disorders, and diseases, these potentially destructive patterns of abuse increase the likelihood that these problems will occur.
Some questions you can ask yourself (or a loved one) to determine if you might have an alcohol use disorder include the following:
1) Have you encountered times when you ended up drinking more or for longer than you originally intended?
2) On multiple occasions, have you wanted to cut down or your drinking or stop altogether, and even tried to, but found you could not?
3) Do you spend a considerable amount of time drinking, being drunk, or recovering from the aftereffects?
4) Do you experience cravings, or a strong need or urge to drink?
5) Have you found that drinking or being hungover has often interfered with school, work, or taking care of your home or family?
6) Have you continued to drink despite the problems it is causing?
7) Have you lost interest in activities that were once important to you in order to drink?
8) On multiple occasions, have you encountered situations while drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (e.g., driving or swimming)?
9) Have you continued to drink although it is making you feel depressed or anxious or contributing to another health problem? Or have you continued to drink after having had a blackout?
10) Do you have to drink more than you once did to achieve the effect you want? Or have you found that your average number of drinks have less effect than before?
11) As the effects of alcohol are subsiding, have you experienced withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia or shakiness?
The above questions were adapted from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA
Is Absinthe Deadly?
Like most alcoholic drinks, absinthe has a high potential to be dangerous when abused. Presently, legal absinthe doesn’t include as much thujone as in the past. It also does not appear to be the sole cause of hallucinations and other effects. But abusing alcoholic drinks that contain unusually high amounts of alcohol is very risky.
Binge drinking absinthe can definitely result in acute alcohol poisoning and death. Given that the alcohol content in absinthe can be as high as 150 proof, it’s not hard to get highly intoxicated in a very short amount of time. More than a small drink can lead to adverse effects, and excessive use is ill-advised and extremely hazardous.
Alcohol poisoning is a serious consequence of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period. Drinking too much too rapidly can depress breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. It can also impair the gag reflex and lead to aspiration of vomit, coma, and death.
Any individual suffering from alcohol poisoning requires immediate medical attention. If you believe someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room right away.
Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include the following:
- Slow or irregular pulse
- Irregular breathing
- Bluish or pale skin
- Low body temperature
Even if a person doesn’t have all the above symptoms, someone extremely intoxicated runs the risk of passing out and not waking up. Alcohol continues to accumulate in the bloodstream for some time after it’s consumed. Do not leave a person in this state alone and do not assume they will merely “sleep it off.” Seek medical help.
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
Not everyone who drinks absinthe or other alcoholic beverages will do so to excess. Indeed, not everyone will become an alcoholic who drinks too much, either. Addiction is a condition that is affected by a variety of factors, including genetics, family history, and mental health status.
Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers customized, integrated addiction treatment programs that are designed to address all aspects of a person’s well-being, not just substance abuse. Using evidence-based approaches, such as behavioral therapy, we provide our clients with the tools they need to be successful in long-term recovery.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcoholism, contact us today! Discover how we help people free themselves from the shackles of addiction and foster the healthy lives they deserve!