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March 10, 1928


JAMA. 1928;90(10):769. doi:10.1001/jama.1928.02690370037019

Many conditions legitimately call for the medical use of depressants of the nervous system. The relief of pain is doubtless the most prominent illustration, though it is not the only occasion for the therapeutic administration of potent drugs of this class. Cerebral excitation, sleeplessness and certain disconcerting psychic states often require some counteracting influence in the interest of bodily welfare and avoidance of intense distress scarcely less tolerable than the pains of physical injury. Mankind has long made use of agents that would conduce to relief. Vicious habits have thereby become established when the administration was not supervised by an intelligent adviser such as the physician should be.

Alcohol and opium were formerly our principal hypnotics,1 but they have been superseded largely by others. In this country the force of law as well as a modified public sentiment has served to hasten the change, which is one of substitution