[Skip to Navigation]
December 1984

William Halsted's Cocaine Habit

Author Affiliations

Hines, Ill

Arch Ophthalmol. 1984;102(12):1746. doi:10.1001/archopht.1984.01040031412002

To the Editor.  —We read Dr Goldberg's Special Article on cocaine1 with great interest. The statement that William Halsted controlled his cocaine habit "most of the time" is certainly true. What is not so generally agreed upon, however, is whether or not he ever completely "kicked" the cocaine habit. Unfortunately, Halsted's standard biographers, MacCallum2 and Crowe,3 are of little help. Neither author was close enough to the mysterious Halsted to provide a full account of this most carefully guarded aspect of his life. As a matter of fact, both were of the opinion that Halsted had managed to stop using the drug. Crowe stated that Halsted's "perseverance and character to control and eventually overcome this addiction and to return to a splendid productive life" was one of his "crowning glories."3(p29)Other authors writing prior to the release of William Osler's "The Inner History of The Johns