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JAMA 100 Years Ago
March 7, 2007


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(9):1007. doi:10.1001/jama.297.9.1007-c

A bill is now before the Pennsylvania Legislature providing for the erection of a state hospital for the detention, care and treatment of persons addicted to the excessive use of alcohol or certain poisonous drugs—opium, chloral, cocain—and who are designated as inebriates, dipsomaniacs or drug habitués. Two other states are successfully conducting asylums for inebriates and the results have so far been gratifying. Modern views on inebriety tend to confirm the theory, as Dr. Butler1 declares, that the excessive use of alcohol and enslaving drugs is due to a diseased condition and one amenable to proper treatment. While there may be some doubt as to the original responsibility for the disease in some cases, there is not so much question as to its being due, in large part at least, to an unfortunate heredity, the tendency often being aggravated by an unfortunate environment. Hence, the call for a certain degree of state care for this class of cases is not an unreasonable one, and such care is well worth taking if it can make useful citizens out of even a small proportion of those who, through original defect and bad environment, have become not merely useless but dangerous members of society. The present method of sending advanced alcoholic cases to asylums for the insane is objectionable in many ways, as every asylum medical official can testify, and is not justifiable if better means are available. That better methods are possible in any state whose public charities are not politically controlled need not be seriously questioned. The medical society of the State of Pennsylvania is actively endorsing the bill which is pending in that state and it is to be hoped that its wishes will be fulfilled. We may add that similar plans might well be instituted in other states.

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