The Opium Habit and Alcoholism

Apr 26, 2013 by

opiumaddictThe Opium Habit and Alcoholism by Fred Heman Hubbard was originally published in 1881 and is a stunning late 19th century treatise on drug and alcohol addiction.  Here are a few paragraphs from the introduction to give you an idea of the vibe of the book:

“In writing a memoir on the diseased state of the system engendered by the habitual use of powerful drugs and stimulating liquors, and indicating a rational treatment for the same, the author has kept one object steadily in view; he has sought to make his work useful, and to place in the hands of the profession a carefully arranged analysis of the peculiar physical condition induced by such indulgence, a condition which makes necessary each day a certain measure of stimulative, to sustain the system in its abnormal state.

We shall treat each habit separately, describing the abnormal conditions peculiar to each, and defining their essential characteristics. We shall minutely describe the symptoms that appear, and the changes that take place under treatment; so that the practitioner may familiarize himself with them, while following this record of the results of our twelve years’ observation. While treating this class of patients in asylums and private practice, the author has exercised scrupulous care in each peculiarity, and the treatment which proved successful in relieving each. The causes leading to the habitual use of the narcotics are many, and the more important of them will receive due attention.

We shall not refer to the moral aspect of our subject ; that would not be consistent with the scope of this work. Neither shall we speculate on the effects which the opium and alcohol habits are likely to have on the descendants of their victims, except as the matter presents itself from the physician’s point of view in the cases of mothers who are addicted to opium during the childbearing period. For such cases we suggest the treatment necessary to save both mother and child.

The pernicious habit of taking opium or its compounds has rapidly increased since the introduction of the hypodermic syringe. It now counts its victims by thousands. The medical profession has been strangely apathetic with respect to the increase of this vice. The result has been to leave in the hands of unprincipled quacks the treatment of a disease, which involves marked pathological conditions, and requires for its successful treatment an acquaintance with the details of physiological anatomy, and a perfect familiarity with certain striking characteristics of the disease which appear in individual cases.

The unfortunate patients, in their eagerness for relief, have become willing victims, enticed by the deceptive reports and advertisements of the many asylums and sanitariums which flood the country. The habitual use of opium is a disease, and a formidable one; and, without regard to the labor involved, the author has endeavored to present in a concise form the results of his experience and observation from day to day; giving exact reports of observations made during the treatment of cases. He has selected for this purpose typical cases, having interesting histories and complications, the patients being of all ages and conditions, from the babe in arms to the octogenarian. Great care has been taken in describing the various peculiarities developed in different patients by the use of the drug. The habit, while holding its victims in a degrading slavery, is amenable to treatment. The mental capabilities return, when the pathological states created by the opium have been removed.”


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