Absinthe has been said to cause insanity, permanent brain-damage and/or hallucinatory state.

Is this accurate?

  • This is the second question I've seen regarding Absinthe here recently. In all my years of drinking I've never heard of it except in the movie 'Moulin Rouge'. Do people still drink it? If so, where? Should I make this a question on it's own? I thought to comment to see if anyone else has ever heard of it. Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 15:13
  • @user6035379, yes, I drink it and it's lovely. I'm in the US so, after legalization in 2012, I've been able to find it in any ABC store and on lots of bars. More artisan-type brands may still need to be special ordered... Check for legality in your respective countrys Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 16:28
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    I really like some absinthes - in the UK you can get over twenty good varieties. I have yet to go insane, despite drinking (as well as many other spirits) for over 25 years.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 21:54
  • Not an Absinth drinker, however, here in good ol' Spain we can get it (saw it in the supermarket yesterday) - so what the hell, I like a tipple or two or three etc..(hic!)... but before I go all out and buy a bottle, what does it taste like? Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 17:15
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    @dougal - Licorice. It's the anise and the fennel in it, usually. So, I recommend you like licorice. It's a strong flavor which is why a lot of folks use sugar... I like the taste however and don't mix sugar. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 14:36

2 Answers 2


The answer is no; drinking traditionally prepared absinthe causes no more brain-damge or insanity than any other alcoholic beverage...

...absinthe languished in exile for nearly a century, a casualty of bad publicity, special-interest lobbies and mythology. That allowed absinthe to become something of an urban legend, something to talk about in whispers, with wide eyes. Much is said about absinthe; very little of that is true.

So let’s clear up a few misconceptions. Absinthe does not make you hallucinate. It is not wildly addictive. It will not cause you to lop off your ear, unless (possibly, on the off-chance) you are a deeply disturbed painter racked by poverty, heartbreak and mental illness. Rather, absinthe is a good drink.

Degas’ famous 1876 painting, L’Absinthe, is a portrait of overindulgence and isolation: a woman slumped over her cafe table in front of an absinthe glass, face gone slack. In 1890, the book “Wormwood: A Drama of Paris” vilified absinthe, portraying the downward spiral that inevitably follows a drink. (Think “Reefer Madness” for fin-de-siècle Paris.) In 1905, a disturbed Swiss man, drunk on absinthe, murdered his entire family. Absinthe didn’t make him do it — any more than a bipolar who hacks up his neighbor after drinking Jamesons has been deranged by Irish whiskey.

Environmental chemist T.A. Breaux, who has studied absinthe for 14 years, explains what led to the drink’s decline. “As absinthe became immensely popular, there was a drive to make it cheaper,” he says. “In urban areas, where they didn’t have a lot of space for distillation equipment, people made absinthes from cheap industrial alcohol, using chemicals that would induce the green color. There were people who had an interest in capitalizing on this, and they failed to make a distinction between these cheaper drinks and real absinthe. It’s a little bit like using Mad Dog as a reason to ban Bordeaux.” http://www.salon.com/2007/12/21/absinthe/




No, that's may be true if you prepare absinthe the wrong way, because it has Tujone. Absinthe may be dangerous if badly prepared, however today's laws are really strict (in UE at least) and you won't find "home-made" (that may be dangerous) absinthe sold anywhere.

Personally I drink it sometimes with friends and we have never had problems (except, you know, we got a little bit drunk..)

Please note that it is not raccomanded to drink it if you are not used to alcohol because it generally have 60% to 80% vol.

See this link for some information.

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