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Old term for intoxication originating from the Alemannic; see there also many other expressions for drunkenness and/or excessive alcohol consumption.

General term for an emotional state of heightened ecstasy or an intense feeling of happiness that lifts someone above their normal emotional state. Such a state is caused by psychotropic substances, among other things. These are substances that influence the human psyche. Depending on the active substance, this is associated with disorders of consciousness, cognitive abilities, perception, affect and behaviour. The intoxication is subsequently treated by drinking alcohol. With excessive consumption alcohol causes disinhibition, increased emotionality, inhibition of thinking, numbness and overestimation of self. In early advanced civilizations, excessive consumption of alcohol was a ritualized custom on certain occasions until the point of full drunkenness. Until the Middle Ages, excessive intoxication was considered normal. From the 16th century onwards it was outlawed and from the 19th century onwards it was increasingly regarded as a disease(alcoholism).

Hand mit Handschelle und Schnapsglas / Betrunkener

Stages of development / degree of drunkenness

The state of intoxication is a state of excitement or twilight lasting minutes to hours, which is usually accompanied by misunderstanding of the situation in the form of sensory delusions and always leaves behind complete or partial amnesia (loss of memory). In the case of alcohol poisoning, the first symptoms are mental disinhibition, increased urge to speak and move with frequent transition to depression and aggression, which can increase to destructive rage. After the intoxication has subsided, there are often after-effects of poisoning known as hangovers. Alcohol consumption leads in stages from well-being and feelings of happiness in extreme cases to a drunken stupor and can even end fatally. The stages of development in per mille:

  • 0,3: Start of effect of alcohol, legal limit in Germany
  • 0.5: clear feeling of warmth, exhilaration, legal limit in Austria
  • 0.8: clearly limited reactivity, legal limit in Switzerland
  • 1,0: Concentration and coordination problems, first speech disorders
  • 1,5: heavy drunkenness, slurred speech
  • 1,8: stronger intoxication with disinhibition and fluctuating walking
  • 2,0: uncontrolled staggering, nausea, vomiting
  • 2,3: strong intoxication with apathy and fatigue, amnesia (memory loss)
  • 2,5: drunken stupor, from here on there is danger to life
  • 3,0: one can no longer stand upright, loss of consciousness
  • 4.0: lethal dose

The temperance societies (abstinence movements) that emerged in the 19th century attempted to draw attention to the dangers of alcohol consumption, in some cases by daring means. The relevant cartoon "The development of a drunkard - from the first glass to the grave" dates from 1846:

Temperenz - Stadien des Alkoholismus - vom ersten Glas bis zum Grabe

Compatibility of alcohol

The tolerability of alcohol, i.e. the amount of alcohol that can be drunk, depends on age, physical constitution, sex, type of person and the speed at which the drink is drunk. Women and especially East Asians, indigenous peoples of America (Indians) and Australia (Aborigines) have less ADH, ALDH and also other degradation enzymes and are therefore drunk faster and longer. A completely different criterion is the amount of alcohol that is safe or harmless to health when consumed regularly (daily). This is stated differently in the relevant literature and fluctuates considerably between 20 and 60 grams of alcohol daily (see under Health). Alcohol has a high nutritional value, around 95% is converted into energy.

The alcohol consumed passes from the stomach (20%) and small intestine (80%) first immediately into the bloodstream and then into body tissue (absorption). The distribution depends on the amount of blood (approx. 5 to 7l) and the body size or body surface area, the more extensive, the better the alcohol is distributed. Fatty tissue, however, can hardly absorb alcohol. Therefore, a tall, lean person distributes alcohol more and there is relatively less alcohol concentration in the blood compared to a short, fat person. The absorption process is relatively slow and (depending on the stomach contents) is only completed one to two hours after the end of drinking. The calculation of the alcohol level is described under blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Intoxication as therapy

Many scientists of the 18th and 19th century dealt with intoxication as a therapy and especially wine was considered the ideal drink to get into this euphoric state, but always provided company (excessive drinking alone is a sign of possible alcohol addiction). The German natural scientist Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) also dealt with this in his theory of the monadic soul and its inability to perceive the "subcritical" movements of the environment while awake. Only the slight intoxication sharpens the senses and expands the sensual horizon of experience. The US psycho-pharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel writes in the book "Rauschdrogen bei Tieren und Menschen" that intoxication as a fourth instinct, just like sex, hunger and thirst, can never be suppressed.

In his essay "The Intoxication - A Philosophical Aperitif", the important Greek philosopher Kostis Papajorgis (*1940) unfolds a philosophy of passion for delirium from Homer to Baudelaire and Dostoevsky to Jack London. Far from defending the anaesthetic of everyday worries or a slurred society, Papajorgis tells of true intoxication, the secret of which lies in "renouncing domination over oneself"...

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