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JAMA 100 Years Ago
June 20, 2001


JAMA. 2001;285(23):2952. doi:10.1001/jama.285.23.2952

Of all the infectious diseases there is none so easily and so surely avoidable on the part of the individual as the venereal diseases. It becomes therefore a most important matter to inquire into the influences that lead up to exposure and favor infection and to aim at their removal as far as possible. Now, alcohol gives rise to certain physiologic effects that may result either in simple functional disturbances or in actual structural or organic disease. While alcohol is primarily a stimulant, it becomes, when taken in large amounts or for long periods, a depressant, lowering inhibitory activity, especially as exhibited in the psychic sphere. It is in this way that it leads to sexual abuse and that it acts as a predisposing cause of the venereal diseases. Of this relation practical experience affords abundant evidence, a statistical presentation of which has been undertaken by the distinguished psychiatrist Dr. Aug. Forel,1 who dwells upon the frequency with which alcoholic indulgence on the part of young men, and even of young women, leads to illicit sexual intercourse, with its obvious attendant dangers, while he points out upon the other hand that a large proportion of prostitutes are the offspring of alcoholic parents. In both sexes alcohol increases sexual desire, while it blunts the moral sense and lowers the powers of resistance. It further increases indifference to the results of illicit intercourse and carelessness in their prevention.

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