Page:Alcohol, a Dangerous and Unnecessary Medicine.djvu/356

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348
ALCOHOL AS A MEDICINE.


"From an occasional use of the drug to insatiable craving is the rational course of the cocaine fiend. From thence to the insane asylum and the grave is a swift and easy descent.

"In his fall from health to physical and mental disintegration, the cocaine fiend undergoes a terrible experience. When not in the temporary heaven that the drug provides, the victim is in the lowest depths of an inferno. He suffers from insomnia, anorexia, and gastralgic pains, dyspepsia, chronic palpitations, and will-paresis. He is a terror both to himself and others. The life of the man is a living death. He knows it, and with this knowledge staring him in the face, he rushes for the drug, and is happy for a brief period under its influence.

"It is time something was done to keep from this high-strung nation a drug so deadly. Clear-minded medical men have recommended its exclusion from the country, believing that its use medicinally should be foregone rather than that such a cursed temptation should be placed in the way of weak humanity.

"What the real action of the drug is, and how to counteract its influence, are at present puzzling questions to the medical fraternity. A leading member of the profession to whom these questions were put replied after careful consideration as follows: 'Its physiological action is practically unknown. As an analgesic, it is uniform in its action, and this is due to the suspension of the physiological functions of the sensory cells which it comes in contact with. Beyond this, it is an excitant of the cerebro-spinal axis, later it has a peculiar action on the encephalon, manifest in a wide range of psychical phenomena. Beyond this a great variety of widely variable symptoms appear. In some cases all the intellectual faculties are excited to the highest degree. In others a profound lowering of the senses and functional activities occur. Morphine-takers can use large quantities of cocaine without any bad symptoms. Alcoholics are also able to bear large doses. Not unfrequently the excitement caused by cocaine goes on to convulsions, and death.