Anodynes in Disguise—and the Harm they do.
Selected writings of A. Jackson Howe.
Dr. Howe believed in the open and frank use of anodynes under their original and well-known names. Such deluding names as "soothing syrup," "chlorodyne," etc., he viewed as deceptive ways of encouraging tippling in narcotics and alcohol. He took occasion often to warn his readers of the dangers of tippling, through the constant use of medicines containing enslaving ingredients. A plain, occasional full drunk is less reprehensible than continual tippling, even though the quantity taken be small. It is the steady dropping of liquids that wears the stone away.—Ed. Gleaner.
ANODYNES IN DISGUISE—AND THE HARM THEY DO.—An advertised lethal drug is sure to be bought and taken. Soothing syrups containing opium put babies to sleep, and become popular with nurses. What is chlorodyne but a substitute for alcohol and opium? Is not intoxication or inebriation sought when the medicine is purchased? Laudanum and chloral are openly bought, and swallowed as soporifics. Tipplers who are desirous of "tapering off," fly to a noxious remedy that benumbs a sense of "goneness" in the stomach and brain; and simply continue to tipple through a change of agencies.
The better classes, so called, are ashamed to drink openly at a public bar, hence they have at home a well-filled sideboard, if they love to stimulate. Many well-to-do ladies take a glass of wine several times a day; or resort to a few drops of paregoric or laudanum to soothe agitated nerves. Men drink alcoholic mixtures for the enlivening ideas such beverages awaken. They do not intend to get tipsy, but often take a drop too much. They love a social glass, and enjoy a sly drink. They have inherited a hankering for alcoholic stimulants, and indulgence sharpens the appetite.
Common tippling and drunkenness among men is deplorable enough, yet how much worse is it for a wife and mother to indulge in tipsiness, whether the tipple be rum or opium. A woman buys soothing syrup for a crying child, and little dreams of the harmful effects produced upon the impressible creature that swallows the narcotic. If it be a boy baby that takes the somnolent syrup, he will crave whisky when he is twenty, and if it be a girl baby, she will want something to allay nervousness before she is out of her teens.
The signs of the times are that Americans grow more and more stimulant and narcotic consumers every year. Distilled, fermented, and brewed liquors are imbibed in larger and larger quantities; and the importation of opium is startlingly on the increase. John Chinaman long ago ascertained that opium was the cheapest tipple in the world, and the imitative American is copying the economies of the celestial. We are rapidly acquiring the reputation of being opium eaters. To stay this tide let the profession of medicine set its influential and scientific foot heavily upon the necks of those who are clandestinely poisoning the innocents. Away with opiated soothing syrups—away with genteel opium taking—away with harmful drugging with anodynes, and let us frown meaningly upon excessive indulgence in strong drink.
Medicine will not act as it should upon a patient whose stomach is more foul than an alligator's maw, and whose nerves are all unstrung through the prolonged influence of alcoholic potations. Nobody can cure an opium taker, though a drinker of spirits may be reformed. Let us be on the watch for those apothecaries among us who violate statutes enacted to restrain the sale of opiates and dangerous drugs; and if the laws now existing be not potent to stay the unrestrained sale of poisons, let the profession of medicine take the initiative in instituting more stringent measures. Half the stomach bitters put up in this country are designed to answer the purpose of tipple. And, what is worse, the vilest liquor is the stimulating ingredient of the compound.—HOWE, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1884.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.