In recent years so much has been said about addiction to alcohol as a

disease rather than as a habit that the treatment of it frankly as a

disease in psychotherapeutics, even though there be not entire

readiness to agree with those who emphasize exclusively the

pathological interest of these cases, will not seem surprising. It is

with regard to the various habits, drug and alcoholic, occurring in

neurotic subjects that
psychotherapy proves most effective and has

secured some of its real triumphs. As a matter of fact, it has long

been conceded that all of the so-called cures for alcoholism are

dependent for their success upon the mental effect produced upon the

patient. Most of them emphasize the necessity for building up the

physical condition of the patient as a necessary preliminary to any

lasting cure. There is no doubt that the powers of resistance of a man

whose physical health has been seriously impaired by over-indulgence

in alcohol and the lack of food and irregular sleep and exposure to

the elements that so frequently accompany it, will not be sufficient

to enable him to break off the alcohol habit, nor afford him the

ability to inhibit the craving for stimulants, that he would have in a

state of health. On the other hand, even in good health, unless his

moral character is braced up, there will surely be a return to his old


Historical Resume of Cures.--We have had many different cures for

alcoholism exploited during the last half century. The older method of

the first inebriate asylums founded in this country was to give a man

a disgust for liquor, as it was then called, by putting a small amount

of alcohol into practically everything that he consumed. This did not

give him enough to satisfy his craving, but it did create in him an

intense distaste for it by constantly keeping the flavor before him.

There was a drop or two of whiskey in his tea, there was some whiskey

in his milk, there was a taste of it in the water that he drank, there

was some of it mixed even in the gravy of his meat, and he always had

weak brandy sauce on his dessert. The consequence was, in most cases,

such a complete disgust for liquor that men were sure that they would

never touch it again. Of course, in the meantime they were fed well

and heartily, they were kept in an environment free from temptations

to excessive indulgence in alcoholic drinks, they had brought home to

them what a mess they were making of their lives and their health,

they had time to reflect what ruin they were bringing on themselves

and their families and usually they recognized that they were

the kind of men who must stay away from alcohol absolutely, for whom

there could be no such thing as a moderate indulgence in stimulants.

This, with the intense distaste for alcohol, amounting almost to

nausea at the sight of it, acquired from the system in vogue, started

them well on the road to reform.

Moral Cures.--It was the moral elements in the cure, however, that

were the most important, though its inventors were sure that the

physical elements played the largest role. The physical disgust for

alcohol consequent upon having its taste constantly recur in

everything at table passed off in a few weeks or at the most a few

months. It was then that the moral uplift came in and had to be

effective if the patient was to be preserved for the future from his

old habit. If he was of a weak and flabby character, if,

unfortunately, he was placed in circumstances where temptations were

frequent, if, owing to the enforced absence in the inebriate asylum

his business affairs had become involved and he was subject to many

worries, then almost surely he dropped back. As a result his case was

even more hopeless than before and, indeed, second cures were seldom

of much benefit, for the man's confidence in himself was gone.

All in all, however, this old-time, simple method probably produced as

large a proportion of "real cures" as any other method, even the much

advertised and discussed scientific discoveries of modern times. All

of us have heard stories of men who had seemed to be hopeless

drunkards, who were thus reformed and hundreds of men who appeared to

be drifting into hopeless inebriety were reformed to such an extent

that they became not only useful members of society and supports to

their families where they had before been a drain, but even became

leaders in the work of uplifting the character of others to resist the

temptation of over-indulgence in stimulants.

Modern Cures.--Of late we have had a number of "cures" for

alcoholism widely exploited by well-directed advertising in the hands

of men who realized what a fortune there was in this sort of thing and

who actually have made immense sums of money out of them. Needless to

say these "cures," though supposed to be secret, did not long remain

so. Perhaps the most famous of them, the one whose institutes were

found all over the country, was said to have used only two drugs,

strychnin and apomorphin. The strychnin was given as a needed and

well-chosen tonic for the physical condition of the patients who came

to the institution usually in a rather seriously broken down

condition. When patients began the treatment they were distinctly told

that if they wanted whiskey at any time they could have it, but that

the next injection of the "cure" after they took the whiskey would

show how directly opposed to alcohol the ingredients of it were, by

producing vomiting and prostration.

As a rule, the patients came in perfectly confident of the effect of

the remedy they had heard so much of. The strychnin injections made an

excellent tonic for these nervous wrecks, bracing them up at once so

that they felt better from the very beginning and this betterment was

confirmed by the growing assurance from the physician and the patients

around them that now, at last, they were to be relieved of their

degrading habit. To those whose craving for alcohol returned in spite

of the favorable condition in which they were placed and the

stimulation of the strychnin, which made up so well, as a rule,

for the absence of their accustomed alcohol, whiskey was actually

allowed. When the next time for their injection came, however, these

patients who had been given whiskey on their request did not now

receive an injection of strychnin but instead a small injection of

apomorphin. The apomorphin acted promptly in making the stomach

relieve itself and produced a complete and immediate sense of

prostration. The limpness and discomfort of seasickness is as nothing

compared to the state that, as a rule, develops after such treatment.

Anyone who has ever had to handle, in a hospital, a wildly drunk,

long-shoreman, whose brute strength in his irrational condition made

him a dangerous object for patients and physicians, who has seen even

large doses of morphin fail to produce quiet, and then has felt bound

for the patient's sake as well as those around him, to administer a

tenth of a grain of apomorphin with the result of having an eminently

tractable patient in a few minutes, will have a good idea of what

happened to the poor alcoholic who got apomorphin instead of


After that the inebriate knew that any further indulgence in liquor

would be followed by this extremely unpleasant result and so he had a

new argument for avoiding it. After a month or six weeks of careful

treatment, the preliminary rest that would restore physical health and

strength being followed by a course of exercise in the open air with

plenty of good food, pleasant surroundings, and hope constantly held

out to them, it is no wonder that these patients went out of the

sanitariums as a rule confident that their habit was conquered for

good. In many cases this proved to be true. It was soon found,

however, that there were many relapses. This hurt the prestige of the

"cure" and the gradual diffusion of this idea spoiled its

effectiveness. It still continued to do good, however, and though it

has been modified in various ways, and, indeed, in various parts of

the country is said to be applied quite differently, there are still

many reformations worked by these cures every year and they

undoubtedly do good. The secret of its success, however, is not any

marvelous drug or other mode of treatment that is employed, but is

because the victims of alcoholism are given an opportunity to retrieve

their physical condition and then to brace up their moral characters

so as to resist their craving for alcohol.

Mental Influence.--Other so-called cures and treatments have

followed almost exactly similar lines. The main element in the cure

has been the producing in the mind of the patient a definite idea that

he can stay away from liquor if he really wishes to and then helping

his run-down physical condition so that he craves stimulants less than

before. Whenever such "sure cures" are used on the worst forms of

alcoholic patients as we see them in the large general hospitals of

our greater cities, the bums of the streets, the drunkards of a score

of years or more, they have practically no effect. The man must have

moral stamina, he must have some character left, besides, as a rule,

he must have some good reasons in worldly interest to help him to

brace up and then he may get away from alcoholism if he sincerely

wills to reform. The important element, however, is the will to do so.

If he is firmly convinced that he cannot stay away from liquor, if he

feels in spite of all that has been done for him that he cannot resist

his craving, then, of course, he will not reform. Men, however, who

have sunk to the lowest depths, who, according to their own and

others' testimony, have scarcely drawn a sober breath for ten or

even twenty years, sometimes have something happen to them, often it

seems very trivial to everyone but themselves, that stiffens their

relaxed moral fiber, that wakens their sense of manhood, that serves

quite beyond expectation to give them a new purpose in life, and they

reform and never drink again.

It is this successful phase of the cure of alcoholism, however it may

be explained, that is most interesting. It represents the most

encouraging aspect of the whole question. Probably nothing more

harmful has ever been done than the public proclamation that

alcoholism is often an hereditary disease against which it is hopeless

to struggle, and that the poor victims of it are to be pitied and not

blamed. Except in those of low mentality, whether of intellect or

will, or in the actually insane, there never was a case of alcoholism

that did not deserve at least as much blame as is usually accorded to

it. This is said after making due allowances for temperament. It is

quite clear that for one man alcohol has no attractions at all, while

for another the craving for it is almost an insuperable temptation. It

is idle to say that these two contrasted men are equally free as to

whether they shall take alcohol or not. Of course they are not equally

free. If the man who has no craving for alcohol prides himself on his

power of resistance against the vile habit, he is simply fooling

himself. He probably knows nothing about the real nature of the

temptation of alcohol. The Spaniards have a proverb: "He who doesn't

drink wine and doesn't smoke, the devil gets by some other way." There

is probably something else with regard to which the non-alcoholic has

quite as little freedom as the poor victim of alcoholism and the great

law of compensation comes in to make up to both of them, for their

failings. Man has the defects of his virtues.

Supposed Inheritance.--No man is such a slave to the habit, however,

that he cannot correct it if he will. We have heard much about the

inheritance of this disease. We have heard even more about its

essentially morbid character, though people used to think it a moral

defect. It must still be considered a moral defect, however, even

though we all concede that there is an element of the pathological in

it. We are getting away entirely from the ordinary idea of inheritance

of disease. There is no inheritance of acquired characters. The fact

that a man's father acquired the drinking habit because he was placed

in circumstances where it was easy for him to indulge himself and

because he did not have the moral stamina to resist, is no reason why

his son should have an unconquerable or even a very strong craving for

alcohol. One might as well say that because a father lost a finger

when he was young his son would be born without that finger. Alcohol

destroyed certain cells in the father's body and injured certain

others, but produced no change deep enough to lead to hereditary


Contagion More than Heredity.--Perhaps some tendency to take alcohol

runs in a family, that is, perhaps there is lessened resistance to the

craving for stimulants that awakens in every human being if it is once

aroused. This is what is true in tuberculosis. Some people have less

resistive vitality to it than others. Careful autopsies show that

practically every man who lives to be over thirty has or has had

living tubercle bacilli in his tissues. Seven-eighths of us are

thoroughly able to resist them. The other eighth succumbs. Their lack

of resistive vitality may in some degree be due to hereditary taint,

but that is doubtful and we know that they acquire the disease

by contact with others who have it already and, as a rule, it is able

to work its ravages because they are not living in conditions that

would help them to resist it. If they live in the free open air and

have plenty of good, simple food, the disease will not run its fatal

course, but nature will cure it. If the craving for alcohol is lighted

up by association, aroused by indulgence, rendered strong by

environment and by exposure to temptations of all kinds with regard to

it, then the resistive power of the individual is so lowered that the

alcoholic habit rules him instead of his being able to command it.

Inherited Resistance.--The most curious fact that has come out in

our studies of heredity in recent years has been that far from

heredity working its will in causing degeneration and deterioration of

mankind, immunity, for the race at least, is acquired in the course of

subjection to disease and to various morbid habits. Nations, for

instance, that have been subjected to diseases for long periods no

longer display the susceptibility to them which they formerly

possessed. After a disease has been endemic among a people for many

generations that people gradually becomes quite insusceptible to its

effects and suffers much less from it than before.

Just this same thing is true of alcoholism. Nations that have been the

longest in a position to be subject to the temptation to use alcohol

in its stronger forms suffer least from the ravages of alcoholism. The

southern nations of Europe using wine daily and knowing well the

process of distillation to help them to make stronger drink for many

hundreds of years, now exhibit much less tendency to over-indulgence

in strong drink than the northern nations whose ancestors have only in

comparatively recent times been subjected to the temptation of craving

for strong alcoholic liquors. The attitude of any nation toward

alcohol is a function of the length of time that nation has had a

chance to procure strong drink easily. Our American Indians

discovered, as has every people at some time, that intoxicating liquor

could be made by allowing solutions of starch and sugar to ferment. It

was only with the coming of the European, however, that they were

provided with "fire water"--strong drink--in quantities. Its effect on

them is a matter of history. Two things the white man brought his

Indian brother to which the Indians were unaccustomed and that

gradually obliterated the original inhabitants of this

country--infectious diseases and strong alcoholic liquors. They proved

equally fatal because of Indian susceptibility to them.

From these considerations it is clear that just such an immunity to

the effect of alcohol is produced in a people exposed to its effects

in concentrated form for a long time as with regard to an infectious

disease when they have been correspondingly exposed to it. Heredity,

then, instead of playing a role that brings about deterioration in the

race, on the contrary, carries on the higher qualities and gives us,

as might be expected in the course of evolution, a better, that is, a

more resistant, race. Most of what is commonly said as to alcoholism,

and unfortunately most of the recent so-called popular scientific

articles on this subject, seem to point to just the opposite

conclusion to this. Men are supposed to be condemned by heredity to an

inevitable craving to take alcoholic drinks that, in certain of them

at least, cannot be overcome by any natural power of resistance. At

this stage of our western civilization this is not true for anyone, as

the more susceptible families have been long since eliminated

and it is a personal weakness and not a family characteristic that

leads people to indulge this appetite to their own destruction.

Unfavorable Suggestion of Heredity Idea.--An alcoholic patient, or

even a man with only a moderately strong tendency to take alcohol to

excess, who harbors any such notion as this, has a serious impediment

to the full exercise of his will in overcoming the difficulties that

he encounters in any attempt at reform. In going counter to so much

that has been written and still more that has been said and generally

accepted on this subject I feel it necessary to quote a good recent

authority on the matter and so here insert these passages from "The

Principles of Heredity" by Dr. Archdall Reid. [Footnote 53] He says

(p. 157):

[Footnote 53: Author of "The Present Evolution of Man," "Alcoholism,"

"A Study in Heredity," etc. Chapman and Hall, London, 1905. ]

Formerly all the world believed in the transmission of acquirements,

and consequently all the world was constantly finding conclusive

evidence of its constant occurrence. To-day there is hardly a rag of

that evidence left, and, with rare exceptions, only certain French

medical observers are able to discover fresh evidence. It is a

remarkable fact, however, that the problem of evolution--of

adaptation--has excited singularly little interest in France, and

it is equally curious that these French observations relate almost

entirely to laboratory work which it is not easy to repeat. In Great

Britain or Germany, you may cut off the tails of a thousand dogs, or

amputate the limbs of a thousand men, or observe the non-infected

offspring of a thousand tuberculous patients, and get no evidence of


With regard to alcohol Dr. Reid in the same volume insists on the

proposition that alcohol does not cause degeneration of a race,

creating, as is claimed, ever more and more a tendency for people to

take it because their immediate ancestors have taken it, but, on the

contrary, there is a distinct evolution against it, and that what is

hereditary, not by acquisition, but by family trait, is an immunity

against the disease which eventually protects the nations that have

been longest exposed to the effects of alcohol from the evil

consequences of the substance. He says (p. 196):

How, then, has alcohol affected the races that have used it? Are the

Jews and the races inhabiting the South of Europe the most

degenerate on earth? Are North Europeans only less degenerate? Are

the races that have never used alcohol, the Terra del Fuegians, the

Esquimaux, and the Australian blacks, for instance, mentally and

physically the finest in the world? We have only to state the

proposition to see its absurdity. There is no evidence that the

hereditary tendencies of any race have been altered by alcohol

circulating in the blood and acting directly on the germ plasm. Once

again the sufferings of the peoples have produced no effect, but the

deaths among the peoples have produced an immense effect. Every race

that has had experience of alcohol is temperate in the presence of

an abundant supply in proportion to the length and severity of its

past experience of the poison. The South Europeans and the Jews are

the most temperate peoples in the world. West Africans also are very

temperate. North Europeans are not drunken. Those savages, and those

only, who have had little or no experience of alcohol--Esquimaux,

Red Indians, Patagonians, Terra del Fuegians, Australian blacks--are

beyond all the peoples the most drunken on earth.

Lest it should be thought that this discussion of the subject is only

of significance with regard to nations and does not touch the

individual, and, therefore, has but little significance for the

problem that we are treating here. Dr. Reid's succeeding paragraph

deserves attention:

Stated in this brief and direct way, the thesis is apt to excite

incredulity. It is sharply opposed to popular beliefs, though that

need not trouble us. Popular notions on abstruse points of science

are occasionally erroneous. Of more importance is the fact that a

mass of statistics purporting to prove that the children of

drunkards tend to be degenerate has been compiled, especially by

medical men in charge of lunatic asylums. But no "control"

observations appear to have been made. We know that many drunken

parents have normal children; certainly, therefore, parental

drunkenness is not invariably a cause of filial degeneration. We

know also that many temperate parents have defective children. There

is nothing to show that the proportion is greater in the one case

than in the other. Even were it established that the proportion of

defective children is higher in the case of drunken parents, it

would still have to be proved that the relation is one of cause and

effect. People who have an inborn tendency to mental defect, who are

abnormally depressed, nervous, restless or irritable, are often so

constituted as to find solace in drink. Their children are liable to

inherit their inborn mental defects with spontaneous

variations--that is, to inherit the defect to a greater or lesser

extent. The unborn child of a drunken and pregnant mother is

practically another drunken person, as liable, or more liable to

suffer from the effects of drink; but in such a case the resulting

defect, though a mere acquirement, is tolerably certain to be

regarded as a congenital (i. e. inborn) defect by the medical man

who sees it. Mere acquirements, also, are the defects due to the

ill-treatment, want and neglect to which the children of drunken

parents are particularly exposed. Indeed, were it fully established

that drunken parents, other than pregnant mothers, tend to have an

excessive number of their children "congenitally defective," it

would still be a question whether the filial defects were not mere

acquirements. Prof. Cossar Ewart's observations on diseased pigeons

renders this not unlikely. All these sources of error render the

success of a statistical inquiry peculiarly difficult, if not

impossible, but there is no indication that they ever occurred to

the minds of the compilers.

Warnings as Suggestions.--I have a case in my notes in which a rather

prominent professional man insists that he is quite sure that the

alcoholism from which he suffered during the ten years between

twenty-five and thirty-five was entirely due to suggestion. As a boy

of sixteen he had gone off to boarding school, but not until his

mother had taken him aside, told him that his father had drunk himself

to death, had done it by secret tippling, and that they had found that

for many years he had been accustomed to have whiskey near him in his

office and take it rather frequently. He had never tasted spirituous

liquor at this time and his mother begged him not to, for she felt

sure that if he did his father's craving would awaken in him and would

become uncontrollable. The day that he went away his father's eldest

brother took him aside and said practically the same thing to him. A

maiden aunt was not quite so emphatic, but she, too, pleaded with him

to understand all the dangers. For his first year at school he did not

touch liquor, but in his second year he tasted it once or twice but

had no particular craving aroused in him. By chance when he was home

at Christmas time some college mates who were visiting him gave his

mother the impression that he belonged to a rather jovial set. Once

more he was warned by mother and uncle. Above all they told him never

to keep strong drink near him because that was what his father used to

do. During his college years the fear of this hung over him. He

resented it and probably took more liquor than he would have so far as

actual craving went. After getting out into active life once more he

suggested himself into the habit of taking an occasional glass of

whiskey by himself. After a time he was constantly taking too much.

For ten years he hurt all of his prospects, broke his mothers

heart, and was looked upon as a hopeless alcoholic. Then one day the

thought came to him that it was not that he craved alcohol so much,

but that his thoughts turned on it constantly and at first he dreaded

it overmuch, then wondered what attraction there could be and then

acquired a habit by suggestion. Once this train of thought worked

itself out in his mind, he quit spirituous liquors for good. For ten

years he has not touched them, he does not care for them, they do not

constitute a temptation.

It must not be forgotten that many warnings may so preoccupy the mind

with regard to a danger as to constitute temptations by suggestion.

This is eminently true of alcoholism, the drug habits, sex habits and

the like, in spite of the foolish present-day notion that information

and warning must necessarily be helpful. In all these, teaching may be

suggestively harmful.

Prophylaxis.--The most important part of the treatment of alcoholism

through mental influence is by prophylaxis, and that, to be effective,

must begin very early. Just as with regard to overeating, as I have

pointed out in the chapter on Obesity, it is extremely important not

to permit children to acquire habits with regard to alcohol when they

are young. During the growing years the system, indeed one may say all

the systems of the body--the nervous, the muscular, the digestive and

the mental systems--are all more or less unstable. Deep impressions

may be produced on them then, and if children are allowed, much less

encouraged, during their growing years (and this includes practically

all the years up to twenty-five) to indulge in alcohol, then one can

look for the development of a craving very hard to eradicate later in

life. Many of them will be able to conquer the desire thus awakened,

but a great many of them will not. We have some very definite evidence

on this point and some of it collected here in America is very

valuable. Dr. Alexander Lambert of New York made a study of over 250

cases of alcoholism seen in the wards at Bellevue Hospital, paying

special attention to the age at which the patients remembered they had

begun the use of alcoholic liquors. If anyone doubts the influence of

youth in this matter, then his statistics should be read:

Of 259 instances where the age of beginning to drink was known, four

began before six years of age; thirteen between 6 and 12 years;

sixty between 12 and 16; one hundred and two between 16 and 21;

seventy-one between 21 and 30; and eight only after 30 years of age.

Thus nearly seven per cent. began before 12 years of age, or the

seventh school year; thirty per cent. began before the age of 16;

and over two-thirds--that is, sixty-eight per cent.--began before 21

years of age.

Dr. Henry Smith Williams, commenting on Dr. Lambert's study of this

subject in his article on "The Scientific Solution of the Liquor

Problem," [Footnote 54] states emphatically the conclusion so

inevitable from these statistics that more than anything else

alcoholism is the result of habits and occasions created in early

years. He adds some remarks that are worth noting for those who are

interested in the prevention and cure of alcoholism, not only in

particular cases, but also for the community:

[Footnote 54: McClure's Magazine, February. 1909.]

In the light of such facts, it is clear that the drink problem is

essentially a problem of adolescence. The cumulative effects of

alcoholic poisoning frequently fail to declare themselves fully

until later in life; but the youth who does not taste liquor till

his majority minimizes the danger of acquiring the habit in its most

insistent form; and the man who does not drink until he is thirty is

in no great danger of ever becoming a drunkard. As to the man who

has passed forty--well, according to the old saw, he must be either

a fool or his own physician. His habits of mind and body are formed,

and if he becomes a drinker now he can at most curtail by a few

years a life that is already entering upon the reminiscent stage. As

factors in racial evolution, the youth of each successive

generation, not its quadragenarians, are of interest and importance.

Treatment.--The conclusions that naturally flow from the historical

introduction to this chapter which show mental influence as the basis

of all cures, simplify very much the treatment of alcoholism on

psychotherapeutic principles. There is no doubt that moral means are

the only really effective remedies in this matter. They fail often,

not because of any lack of power, but because of lack of co-operation

on the part of the patient. There are men whose mentality and

responsibility is breaking down, and who are on the way to the insane

asylum for various causes, who cannot be thus influenced. They are,

however, not alcoholics, but incipient insane patients likely to go to

excess in any line. There is no pretense that psychotherapy will cure

mental disorder that rises to the height of real insanity. On the

other hand, just as after several relapses of tuberculosis due to the

foolishness of the patient, further improvement by sanatorium

treatment is usually out of the question, so each relapse of the

alcoholic patient makes it increasingly difficult to bring about

noteworthy improvement. There are examples, however, which demonstrate

that even after seventy times seven relapses men may still encounter

something that rouses their dormant wills to real activity and then

their alcoholism is a thing of the past, for good and all.

Sanitarium Question.--There always comes the question whether these

cases need to be sent to a sanitarium or can be treated at home. The

answer to this question is the same for alcoholism as it is for

tuberculosis or, indeed, for any of the exhaustive diseases. It all

depends on the individual's physical condition and his circumstances.

If tuberculosis is discovered, as it should be, at a very early stage

in the disease--not when the patient is coughing up bacilli in large

numbers and already has many physical signs in his lungs, but when he

has a slight unproductive cough and over-rapid pulse and some

prolongation of expiration at one apex--then he may be cared for at

home, if the physician is confident that he can make his patient feel

the absolute necessity for following instructions and can make him

realize the seriousness of his condition in spite of the few symptoms

that are present. If his environment is unfavorable, in a crowded

tenement house or where an abundance of fresh air cannot be readily

obtained, the patient may have to go to a sanitarium for proper

treatment even at this early stage, or at least he will have to change

his living conditions.

This question has received a very different answer in recent years

from what used to be given to it. Formerly the physician hesitated to

say "tuberculosis" to his patient until the disease was well advanced

and then he advised the distant West or some other change of climate,

though, as a rule, this brought only a palliation of symptoms, the

case being too far advanced, and the fatal termination came in

the course of two or three years. Now the careful physician diagnoses

tuberculosis much earlier, detects the disease in its incipiency, and

is able to treat the patient at home quite successfully, if conditions

are at all favorable. It is true he has to make him give up fatiguing

occupations, and especially those in dusty places; he has to insist on

his living out of doors a good part of the day, even though there

should be no better means of securing this than the roof or a

fire-escape, and on keeping his windows open all night. He has to

watch his nutrition carefully and see that he gains in weight. If all

this can be accomplished, however, there is no reason why a

tuberculosis patient in the incipient state should not get better at

home almost as well as he would at a sanitarium. The only difference

between the two methods of treatment is that in a sanitarium the

patient realizes that his one duty in life is to care for his health

and he does not bother about other things, as he is likely to do if he

remains at home.

If this precious development of teaching with regard to tuberculosis,

which is founded on such thorough-going common sense and the

application of good therapeutic principles to the treatment of the

disease, be transferred to the sphere of alcoholism, then the answer

to the question whether there shall be sanitarium treatment or not is

practically arrived at. If the patient is in an early stage of his

alcoholism, if the pathological character of his tendency to take

intoxicants has been recognized and made clear to him early, then

there is little difficulty in treating him at home. The crux of the

problem is just that which occurred with regard to tuberculosis years

ago. The physician does not take the early symptoms of the affection

seriously enough. He does not want to disturb his patient's equanimity

by the suggestion that he is in the incipient stage of alcoholism any

more than a few years ago the family physician cared to suggest the

awful thought of tuberculosis until the condition had reached a

serious stage. But this is the essential preliminary to the successful

treatment of alcoholism just as it is to the successful treatment of


It is almost useless to send advanced cases of tuberculosis, in which

cavity formation has already occurred, to a sanitarium. The course of

their disease may be delayed for a while, but scarcely more than that.

Their resistive vitality has been so overcome by the ravages of the

disease that their ultimate cure seems beyond hope, yet not

infrequently wonderful results are obtained even in these cases. Just

this same thing is true with advanced cases of alcoholism. No one can

do anything with them, though careful treatment in a sanitarium may,

on a number of occasions, afford them opportunity to brace up and be

themselves, i.e., their better selves, for several months. Just as

with tuberculosis, however, even the quite advanced cases will

sometimes be so much bettered by sanitarium treatment that, though

their prognosis seemed absolutely hopeless and was so pronounced by

good authorities, all the symptoms are relieved and the patients get a

new lease of life that may last for many years.

In the same way some apparently hopeless cases of alcoholism will

brace up after sanitarium treatment and have many years of useful

sober life without a break. In alcoholism, as in tuberculosis, the

will of the individual is the all-important consideration. Someone has

said that tuberculosis takes away mainly the quitters. Those who have

the courage to insist that they will live in spite of

everything being apparently against them, pull through crises that

seem absolutely hopeless and survive for years. Robert Louis Stevenson

bravely doing his work, living on in spite of fate and disease, is the

typical example. Alcoholism completely overcomes only the quitters. If

a man wants to give up drinking even when he seems practically a

hopeless wreck from the effects of alcohol, he can do so if he has a

physician in whom he has confidence, who will relieve him from

depressing symptoms due to previous excess, who will lift him up and

strengthen him by food and stimulation, and, above all, by faithful,

unending, never discouraged assurance that he can conquer the craving

which has such a hold of him, if he only persists a little and does

not give up the struggle. The victory is worth while and it is not

hard to lift a man up if he has any remnants of character left.

Confidence.--In the treatment of alcoholism, then, just two things

are necessary. One of these is that the patient has confidence in

himself, the other that he has confidence that his physician can help

him over the hard spots on the road. There is no doubt that many drugs

can be used that will lessen the patient's irritability, increase his

nerve force, stimulate organs which are depressed by the reaction

against over-stimulation, arouse appetite and correct disturbed

functions. All these things must be done. It is no use laying down any

set of rules as to how they shall be done, for they must be done

differently in individual patients. It is not alcoholism that is

treated nor the effects of alcoholism, but an individual alcoholic

patient, and a set of symptoms that are very different in every

individual. The more physiological disturbance can be relieved by

proper drug, dietetic, hydropathic and remedial measures, the more

chance is there for the patient to get over his habit without trouble.

Every ill feeling that he has tempts him to think of alcohol. Above

all, he must be made to sleep, his bowels must be thoroughly

regulated, and he must be made to eat heartily. For stimulation full

doses of nux vomica, not less than thirty drops three or four times a

day or even oftener, are probably best.

For cases of alcoholism in the earlier stages there is but little

difficulty. Those who try the effect of favorable suggestion, of

confident assurance, of constantly repeated encouragement on

individuals who have begun to be afraid that they cannot break the

habit, will frequently have the most gratifying results. The important

point to remember is that men are suffering from alcoholism who are

indulging in alcohol every day and to whom it has become more or less

of a necessity, though even as yet its effect upon their business is

not marked and they are not known, even among their acquaintances, as

drunkards. Whenever a man must have three or four whiskeys a day or he

cannot do his business and his appetite fails him and he does not

sleep well, he is an alcoholist. He has the cellular craving that

later may become an absolute tyrant. If we can educate the community

generally to realize this as we are gradually educating them to the

knowledge that tuberculosis must be caught in its incipient stage and

that pulmonary consumption begins in very mild symptoms after a person

has been exposed to it, we shall have little difficulty in curing

tuberculosis or in treating alcoholism successfully by suggestion.

For alcoholism, as for the drug habits and also the sex habits, moral

influences are all-important. Hence the necessity for exercising them

frequently. It is probable that the best way to break any of

these habits is to have the patient come regularly to the physician's

office, at least once, and at the beginning twice a day. In cases of

alcoholism the method of giving for the first week, at least, the dose

of the stimulant drug which replaces the alcoholic stimulation

directly to the patient is often of great service. It seems a good

deal to ask the patient to come three times a day just to get a drug

(tonic), but it is comparatively easy to resist the craving for liquor

for four or five hours, that is, until the doctor is seen again, while

sometimes twenty-four hours will seem a long while. The personal

element in this matter is extremely valuable. It is this that has made

the efficiency of all forms of cures, and it is only this that can be

successfully used.

How much can be accomplished for even the worst forms of drunkenness

and under extremely unfavorable circumstances once a really strong

impression is made on the individual's mind and his will is aroused to

help himself seriously may be readily learned from the lives of any of

the great temperance advocates. Their experience is illuminating. It

shows clearly that strong personal influence will do more than

anything else for these sufferers. Sometimes their efforts are

supposed to affect only certain classes of individuals who have

character but who, for some reason, have fallen into an unfortunate

habit. A little investigation will show, however, that they affect all

classes and kinds of individuals and, indeed, may reform a whole

community. The story of Father Matthew is very interesting in this

regard because there is some striking testimony as to his reformation

of whole neighborhoods that had been given over to drink before and

that among a people especially emotional and susceptible. The movement

that he initiated still lives in the temperance societies of the

English-speaking peoples everywhere which help by prophylaxis in youth

and the moral force of association in later life.

After-Treatment.--In alcoholism the most important feature of the

treatment is what has come to be known in our time as the

after-treatment. This department of therapeutics has taken on great

importance in recent years in every form of disease. For early and

middle life most diseases have a definite tendency to get better,

though many of them leave distinct pathological tendencies. The

after-treatment, then, has become much more important than the cure

for the patient during the existence of the acute or sub-acute stage.

Even in children's diseases it is now generally recognized that while

measles and whooping cough are not dangerous affections as a rule,

they may prove the forerunners of tuberculosis, because of the

weakened pulmonary resistance consequent upon their invasion. For

scarlet fever, the possibilities of injury to the kidneys after the

great irritation to which they have been subjected, is now recognized

and convalescence is prolonged. In typhoid fever we realize that not

weeks but many months of convalescence are needed to put the patient

beyond the risk of various degenerative processes that may be serious.

There is even question in the minds of many observant physicians

whether the weakness incident to typhoid fever may not, if a premature

return to work is allowed, prove a potent cause of precocious


In a word, after-treatment has become one of the most interesting

subjects of modern therapeutics. It will not be surprising, then, if

we insist that the after-treatment of the alcoholic is the most

important part of the remedial methods to be employed. If a man who

has suffered from tuberculosis because he was working in one of

the many dusty trades and living in a badly ventilated tenement house

is restored to health or at least has all his symptoms disappear as a

consequence of sanitarium treatment, it is almost needless to say that

he must not be allowed to return to the conditions in which his

disease originally developed. If he does, he is absolutely certain to

have a relapse. This phase of tuberculosis has been much discussed in

recent years. It is often said that it is impossible to keep working

people from a return to their occupations. Just so far as that is

impossible, so far will any real hope of keeping their tuberculosis in

abeyance be reduced. They are much more likely to suffer from the

disease, as a rule, after their return from the sanitarium than they

were before they originally contracted it, because apparently some of

their immunity has been destroyed by the invasion of the bacillus.

It is only recently that we have thus planned for the after-treatment

of tuberculosis. If we are to be successful in the after-treatment of

alcoholism, at least some of this same thoughtfulness must be

exercised. The victims must be discouraged from going back into the

conditions in which their habit developed. It is comparatively easy,

especially at the beginning of his alcoholism, to stimulate a man back

to normal physical condition, to reduce his craving for intoxicants,

give him back his appetite and set him on his feet again. The

affection is quite curable. If a man returns to the conditions in

which it originally developed, however, it will develop again quite as

inevitably as tuberculosis does under similar conditions. We do not

blame the sanitarium if, after having given a man a new lease of life

in spite of tuberculosis, he resumes the unsanitary life in which his

disease originally developed and has a relapse. It is not the fault of

the system of treatment for alcoholism if men relapse, but the blame

is upon them that they do not take their danger of relapse seriously

enough, permit themselves to get into an unfavorable environment, and,

as a consequence, suffer once again from their affection.

Religious Motives.--More and more we are realizing the place of the

higher motives of life in the reform of alcoholic patients. Religious

motives probably form the best possible source of suggestions that

enable a patient to lift himself out of the slough of despond of

chronic alcoholism. Many of the best workers for the reform of the

drunkard were themselves drunkards for many years. The motive of

helping others is particularly important in its effects upon any

alcoholic. Some motive apart from himself is more helpful than any

appeal to his selfishness or even to what he can do for his children

and his wife. It is the newer motive that appeals most strikingly. In

recent years certain church movements have done much for alcoholic

patients. In this they are only repeating the effect of other great

church movements and the effect of the lives of apostles of temperance

in recent generations. Without these higher motives cure is probably

impossible in many cases. With them it not only becomes possible but

even comparatively easy in the most hopeless-looking cases.

In the light of what we have heard recently of the success of the

Emanuel movement in the treatment of alcoholism, it is interesting to

recur to what was said in this relation by Prof. Forel of Zurich on

the treatment of alcoholism, in a communication read to the South

German Neurologists and Psychiatrists at its meeting in Freiburg over

twenty years ago. Prof. Forel, who is not what would be called a

particularly religious-minded man, insisted that "an inebriate asylum

can only with great difficulty be successful without religious

auxiliaries, since most inebriates, and especially at the beginning of

their reformation, are entirely too weak to get along without

religious consolation. To secure this, however, the nicest tact is

required in order to permit the practice of all the different nuances

of faith that men have, in peace and comfort. This can only be secured

if in practice faith is subjected to charity for one's neighbor as the

basis for religion."

Many such expressions have been used before and since in practically

every country in Europe. The assertion that physicians have failed to

recognize the part that religion plays in such cases is entirely

without foundation and can only be made by those who are quite

ignorant of our medical literature.