While this is a little off of my usual topics, and I know this is bound to be controversial, I am making a case for a needed social change. Over the past several decades, the drinking of Absinthe in the United States has gone from something considered dirty and even immoral, to becoming hip and trendy, with many people who self identify as non-drinkers and even the children of teetotaler families feeling pressured to try it in college.
I am going to make the case that this particular choice, while perhaps not solved with legislation, does need to be exposed as the danger it is so that socially we can encourage people away from self destruction and toward better, healthy choices. Absinthe has great marketing, and opponents of it are painted broad brush as Puritanical, or simply as uncool. Its time for a careful consideration of the facts and an honest discussion.
Absinthe is an alcoholic drink comprised of Wormwood which is identifiable for its green coloration. Because of its color it came to be known as The Green Fairy, and was popularized in the mid 1800s in Europe. However, because of the association it came to have with not only health concerns but also the behaviors associated with its consumption, Absinthe was eventually banned by multiple countries for the good of its people.
One European critic of Absinthe said of it,
“Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country.” (1)
Never outlawed in the United States, some are now pushing for its ban because of new studies which show a connection between the Green Fairy and many different ills. While there is no direct evidence for the connection to tuberculosis or epilepsy, it has been linked to a tremendous link in diseases and self destructive behaviors among those who choose to partake as a part of their lifestyle. Drinking any alcohol has long been known to be associated with impaired judgement, so naturally we are not implying that ONLY drinkers of Absinthe are effected by these negatives connected to their choices, but there is a pattern of inflated self destruction and disease that is associated with the Green Fairy which makes it impossible to dismiss as coincidence. Consider the following statistics (references below):
Only 2% of U.S. population consumes Absinthe, yet it accounts for 61% of HIV infections. (2) HIV is a virus which results in a fatal loss of the human immune system.
The nature of the way in which this drink it produced and shared is directly linked to the spread of this horrible disease among those who choose to consume it. HIV can lie dormant in a bottle of Absinthe for up to 15 years, capable of infecting the next drinker even when there is no outward sign of the viruses presence.
Young men (ages 13 to 29) were most severely affected, representing more than one quarter of all new HIV infections nationally (27 percent; 12,900 in 2009). (3)
A recent CDC study found that in 2008 one in five (19%) Male Absinthe drinkers (MADs) in 21 major US cities were infected with HIV, and nearly half (44%) were unaware of their infection. (4) Without going into graphic detail, I shall just explain that the bottle is not designed to be drank from, yet, even though changes in practice would decrease their likelihood of lacerations, and thus spreading infection through contact with blood, saliva, etc. MADs in alarming numbers tend to practice unsafe habits, resulting in this disproportionate spread of HIV in their numbers. And many studies show that these MADs are unaware of the fact that they carry the disease, making the epidemic in their community even worse.
Financial Impact on Society
The impact of their lifestyle choices spreads beyond their own personal lives and into the mainstream by creating a huge financial burden by way of medical costs. Absinthe drinkers, while a very small percentage of the population, cause a$12.1 Billion annual cost in US. According to MSNBC, “Future treatment for the 40,000 people infected with HIV in the United States every year will cost $12.1 billion annually, a new study showed.” (5)
How is the mental health of Absinthe drinkers, both male and female?
Does it have the same bell-curve as the rest of society? No, it does not. Take a look at the statistics and note that the mental health issues are not due to social pressure and rejection by the majority of society who considers Absinthe to be uncouth, or even depraved- especially as the casual, or even regular consumption of Absinthe has become so socially acceptable for the past three decades.
Youth who identify themselves as Absinthe Drinkers, or even Casual Absinthe Drinkers, are four times more likely than their peers to suffer from major depression; three times more likely to suffer anxiety disorders, four times more likely to suffer conduct disorders, six times more likely to suffer from multiple disorders and more than six times more likely to have attempted suicide. (6)
Absinthe drinkers (AD’s) are about 50% more likely to suffer from depression and engage in substance abuse than the rest of the population, reports Health24.com . . .
the risk of suicide jumped over 200% if an individual had engaged in an AD lifestyle . .
The lifespan of an AD is on average 24 years shorter than that of a non AD . . . While the Health 24 article suggested that ADs may be pushed to substance abuse and suicide because of anti-AD cultural and family pressures, empirical tests have shown that there is no difference in AD health risk depending on the level of tolerance in a particular environment. ADs in the United States and Denmark–the latter of which is acknowledged to be highly tolerant of Absinthe–both die on average in their early 50’s, or in their 40’s if immune failure resulting from HIV is the cause of death.
73% of the psychiatrists in the American Psychiatric Association who responded to a survey by Harold I. Lief said that they thought that AD men (MADs) are less happy than others. 70% percent said they believed that the ADs’ problems were due more to personal conflicts than to social stigmatization. (7)
Compared to controls who had no Absinthe drinking experience in the 12 months prior to the interview, males who had any Absinthe drinking within that time period were much more likely to experience major depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder. Females who had drank any Absinthe within the previous 12 months were more often diagnosed with major depression, social phobia or alcohol dependence. In fact, those with a history of Absinthe drinking had higher rates of nearly all psychiatric pathologies measured in the study. (8)
Abuse of Children in the Home
“A disproportionate percentage–29–percent–of the adult children of AD parents had been specifically subjected to sexual molestation by that AD parent, compared to only 0.6 percent of adult children of non AD parents having reported sexual relations with their parent. . . . Having an AD parent(s) appears to increase the risk of incest with a parent by a factor of about 50.” (9)
Sexual promiscuity helps support the spread of disease. What are the promiscuity statistics of the Absinthe Drinking community? Shockingly bad!
28% of Absinthe drinking men (MADs) had more than 1000 partners: “Bell and Weinberg reported evidence of widespread sexual compulsion among MADs. 83% of the MAD men surveyed estimated they had had sex with 50 or more partners in their lifetime, 43% estimated they had sex with 500 or more partners; 28% with 1,000 or more partners.” (10)
“There is an extremely low rate of sexual fidelity among MADs as compared to married non AD men. Among married, non Absinthe drinking men, 75.5% reported sexual fidelity. Among MAD males in their current relationship, 4.5% reported sexual fidelity. (8)
Physical Abuse Among Absinthe Drinkers
A study by Susan Turrell entitled “A descriptive analysis of Absinthe Drinking (AD) Relationship Violence for a Diverse Sample,” and published in the Journal of Family Violence (vol 13, pp 281-293), found that relationship violence was a significant problem for Absinthe Drinkers (ADs). Forty-four percent of MAD men reported having experienced violence in their relationships with other MADs; 13 percent reported sexual violence and 83 percent reported emotional abuse.
Levels of abuse ran even higher among Female Absinthe Drinkers (FADs) with 55 percent reporting physical violence, 14 percent reporting sexual abuse and 84 percent reporting emotional abuse.
As outrageous as it might sound, “Most medical groups have embraced the Green Fairy agenda and are advocating that lifestyle despite all the scientific studies and medical evidence that demonstrate medical and psychological risks,” said Joseph Nicolosi, President of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Absinthe Drinkers. “Absinthe activism and political correctness are clearly trumping science.” (11)
In short, the lifestyle choice to consume Absinthe is linked to the spread of terminal disease, physical and sexual abuse, child abuse, addictions, depression, and suicide. To act like this activity is harmless as sipping sweet tea on the porch is a lie that needs to be defeated with the truth, not only for our culture at large, but for our family and friends who are trapped in this addictive lifestyle.
Political correctness forbids us to condemn any choice as bad, but when the facts are in, it should be clear that this lifestyle is one we need not to celebrate, but to expose in the light of truth. The people we love do not need to be sold a bag of lies, but to be rescued from this dark and sinister self destruction.
Also important to this discussion is this: all of the stats and facts above are true, but after the very first quote (which was about Absinth drinkers) anywhere I said “Absinthe Drinkers,” I actually meant “Homosexuals”. Now that you know that, read this article again.
Political Correctness KILLS. It’s time for some honest discussion of the truth.
3 (Center for Disease Control, cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/HIVIncidencePressRelease.html)
9 (Bell and Weinberg p 308exodusglobalalliance.org/ishomosexualityhealthyp60.php)
10 (Sources: Laumann, The Social Organization of Sexuality, 216; McWhirter and Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (1984): 252-253; Wiederman, “Extramarital Sex,” 170. This is extracted from http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS04C02)