AskDefine | Define dipsomania

Dictionary Definition

dipsomania n : an intense persistent desire to drink alcoholic beverages to excess [syn: alcoholism, potomania]

User Contributed Dictionary



dipsa: thirst + mainomai: madness.



dipsomania (no plural)
  1. alcoholism. An elaborate term for an addiction to alcohol.

Extensive Definition

Dipsomania is a term related to an incontrollable craving for alcohol. It means "compulsive thirst" but the term when used, is reserved primarily related to the consumption of alcohol. As a result, a dipsomaniac is a person in which this condition appears, in the form of a physical and psychological craving for ethyl alcohol, especially liquor. However, the obsession is so compulsive that the dipsomanic will ingest whatever intoxifying liquid is at hand, whether it is fit for consumption or not. Dipsomania differs from alcoholism in that it is an uncontrollable periodic lust for alcohol, with, in the interim, no desire for alcoholic beverages. However when dipsomania manifests, it usually results in multi-day or weekly episodes of excessive binge drinking and blackouts. It generally involves solitary alcohol abuse in combination with the loss of interest in any other usual activities. It is not known what causes dipsomania, it is thought that enzyme deficiencies may contribute to its root cause, in part contributing to depressive illness in many dipsomaniacs. There appears to be no cure for dipsomania, with the exception of abstinence from alcohol of any kind. Dipsomanics tend to be social, outgoing individuals, who find an unusual phenomenon overtakes any will not to drink, and the compulsion becomes so overwhelming that it cannot be stopped in many cases. The dipsomaniac will fall prey to this compulsion and eventually drink until blackouts, seizures or even reported deaths. Contrary to alcoholism, where the desire to drink predominates all thought processes, dipsomania will manifest itself suddenly, and in large part, "surprise" the dipsomaniac who then falls prey to the overconsumption of alcohol. Research is underway in many psychiatric circles to determine what if any psychological disorders may contribute to its cause.


In certain African countries it is believed that a cold infusion, made from the roots of the Buffalo Thorn, can curb this addiction. The irony is, however, that the same Buffalo Thorn produces berries, from which a very potent alcoholic drink called Katkasu can be home-brewed.

Famous Dipsomaniacs

In 1921, John W. Robertson theorized that Dipsomania could have been the cause of the mysterious death of writer Edgar Allan Poe.
  • The German composer Max Reger
  • The Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky
  • Another famed self-described "dipsomaniac" is New York writer Jonathan Ames.
  • The character of Sebastian Flyte, from the novel Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, memorably and sarcastically describes himself as a dipsomaniac, ("If they treat me like a dipsomaniac, they can bloody well have a dipsomaniac."). He is later called the same by his brother, and a "dipso" by one of the minor characters.
  • William (Billy) Shusler, famed president of the original "Under the Sink Club", which was founded in 1987 and today, has over one thousand dipsomaniac members worldwide.
  • Ernest Hemingway, American author
  • Adrian "Ade" Edmondson, English comedian
  • Dave Mohring, best selling author of "Dipsomania: Why It Drives Me To Drink", and Under The Sink Club Past President
  • Marilyn Monroe, American Actress and Model
  • Joseph Mullholland, former Canadian bodybuilder and self reported dipsomaniac, Under The Sink Club Member 1994-5


"Poe's Life." The PoeMuseum.
dipsomania in French: Dipsomanie
dipsomania in Croatian: Dipsomanija
dipsomania in Polish: Dipsomania
dipsomania in Portuguese: Dipsomania
dipsomania in Serbian: Дипсоманија
dipsomania in Finnish: Dipsomania

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

a habit, abulia, acquired tolerance, acute alcoholism, addictedness, addiction, alcoholic addiction, alcoholic psychosis, alcoholism, amphetamine withdrawal symptoms, arteriosclerotic psychosis, barbiturate addiction, barbiturism, bottle nose, certifiability, chain smoking, chronic alcoholism, cocainism, crash, craving, delirium tremens, dementia paralytica, dependence, drug addiction, drug culture, drug dependence, ebriosity, folie du doute, functional psychosis, general paralysis, general paresis, grog blossom, habitual drunkenness, habituation, heavy drinking, metabolic psychosis, moral insanity, neurosis, nicotine addiction, oenomania, oinomania, organic psychosis, paralytic dementia, pathological drunkenness, physical dependence, presenile dementia, prison psychosis, problem drinking, psychological dependence, psychopathia, psychopathia sexualis, psychopathic condition, psychopathic personality, psychopathy, psychosis, senile dementia, senile psychosis, senility, sexual pathology, situational psychosis, syphilitic paresis, tolerance, toxic psychosis, withdrawal sickness, withdrawal symptoms
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