It is without exception the consequence of long-continued and continuous abuse of spirits, and although persons of this category are seldom seen in a state of actual drunkenness, still their whole system is shattered and shaken to its very foundation. They lose their character, their craving for drink overrules their best intentions, and they continually struggle with temptation and yield continually to it. They feel themselves in a continuous conflict and dissension with their own better selves, and gradually fall in a state of deep melancholy and suicidal tendency from which only a fresh resort to their one remedy, whisky, liberates them for the time being. And as they grow from bad to worse, the higher they stood, the lower they fall, until at last they don’t shrink from committing crimes in order to gratify their ungovernable craving.
Dipsomania occurs in the form of a repeatedly recurring rage for drinking, which often is preceded by unpleasant sensations in the lower part of the abdomen: nausea, vomiting, want of appetite, general depression, gone feeling all over, and trembling sensation about the heart. This condition often terminates in an attack of madness.
The psychical degeneration, which differs in different patients, produces varied forms of insanity, sometimes forms of exaltation with changing and absurd delusions, sometimes forms of melancholy with religious mania, delusions of persecution, and sometimes mere tranquil dementia. Besides these psychical disorders we find others affected with different degrees of paralysis of motion and sensation. Paralytic dementia is one of the commoner terminal diseases of chronic alcoholism, as also apoplectic and epileptic attacks occasionally occur during its course. In some patients color blindness of green and bluish-green, amblyopia and amaurosis in various degrees with atrophy of the optic nerve has been observed. The chief ailment, however, is a chronic gastric catarrh, which makes digestion almost an impossibility and interferes entirely with the general nutrition of the body. We therefore find the liver almost always affected, ending in cirrhosis. The kidneys suffer with morbus Brightii, and some patients die with anaemic symptoms. The sexual functions are at first little affected. In one case I know of, the sexual desire was almost heightened to satyriasis, in the later stages, however, sterility attacks both sexes. The children of alcoholic parents exhibit very often a predisposition to psychical disorders and inherit a badly constituted nervous system.
The post-mortem appearances vary greatly. There have been found achymeningitis hemorrhagica, atrophy of the cortical substance, fatty degeneration of the ganglionic cells of the voluntary muscles, of the heart, liver and kidneys, thickening of the coats of the veins, thickening of the mucous membrane of the stomach and sacrum , flat erosions, hyperaemic vessels and increased pigmentation of the mucous membranes of the stomach, a granulated condition due to interstitial development of increased connective tissue or cirrhosis of the liver.
Confirmed drunkards are no doubt hard cases to manage. Some we will not be able to reform, unless we can take them entirely out of their wonted associations and submit them to moral treatment. Others probably may be approached if we succeed in producing in them a disgust for whiskey, and accustom them to the use of milk as a main diet. Still others, perhaps all, will be relieved of many of their symptoms by a careful selection of one or the other of the following remedies.
Angelica: In 15 drop doses of the tincture, three times a day, has caused disgust for liquor.
Ammonium Carb: In nervous, torpid asthenic cases, in periodical hallucinations, in amblyopia.
Arnica: During the delirium, when he imagines that he will be arrested, also when after the cessation of trembling, formication and subsultus tendinum, there still remains a weakness or sense of being asleep of the whole muscular system, slowness of comprehension, ringing in the ears or fog before the eyes. Taken in the first dilution, it has also caused a decided disgust for liquor.
Arsenicum: Cachectic paleness, habitual redness of the conjunctiva, sudden loss of strength, anxiety in pit of stomach, great restlessness, affections of the heart, oppression of the chest, even suffocative spells, especially on moving and at night, emphysema of the lungs, dry cough, or difficult, tough expectoration. Nausea and vomiting, great thirst, tongue dry and intensely red at least on point and edges, or whitish coating, watery diarrhoea, worse after midnight. Tobacco chewers.
Carb. Veg : Digestive troubles, with burning in stomach , heart- burn, acidity, belching of rancid taste, all worse after eating , retarded stool, hard and insufficient, cachectic paleness of face, chilliness.
China: Lienteric diarrhoea , dropsical affection , exhaustion, earthy paleness of the face, or bloated face, easily reddening, roof of mouth always pale. Vomiting of food undigested, hydrsemic conditions.
Kali bich: Especially in complaints of beer-drinkers.
Kali brom: Headache, with dizziness, staggering as if intoxicated, stupefaction, sopor, muscular weakness, anesthesia of pharynx and velum palati and external skin , sight weakened and hearing impaired. Gastralgia , vomiting , colic , constipation.
Kreosotum: Habitual vomiting of undigested food, of large quantities of sour, acrid fluid, or of white, foamy mucus , diarrhoea profuse, colorless, or greenish watery, fetid.
Lachesis: Worse in the afternoon or after sleep, constant talking and jumping from one subject to another, cannot bear anything tight around the neck , great weakness , tremor of hands , liver affections.
Natrum mur: Hypochondriacal melancholy, headache (migraine), thin, nervous individuals prone to outbursts of passion, craving for liquor , digestion easily disturbed by slight dietetic or mental causes, with furred or mapped tongue, great thirst, slow digestion , vomiting of claylike substances , stool hard and retarded, venous congestion of liver, pancreas and uterus, fluttering of heart, cutting pain in urethra after urination.
Nux moschus : Dulness, heaviness and pressure in the head , dizziness and sleepiness , heavy sleep, with clairvoyance and performance of accustomed work without any recollection when awaking. Mind absent, knows not where he is or what to answer, dryness of skin, nose, mouth and throat, flatulency, retarded stool, or diarrhoea, liver troubles, strangury after beer, dyspnoea, chilliness. Worse from cold and damp air.
Phosphorus: Great mental and physical exhaustion , trembling of the limbs when trying to use them , jerking of single muscles, arms powerless, legs paralyzed , vertigo, with loss of consciousness, indifference even towards the dearest friends, forgetfulness and stupidity in a measure that the patient does something else than what he intended, monomania de grandeur et de la richesse, idiocy. Inclined to diarrheic stools and flatulency, dry, scaly skin. Worse in cool and damp weather.
Pulsatatilla: A better antidote to whisky than even Nux vomica
Selenium: Craving for liquor. When Sulphur seems indicated and does not help.
Sulphur : Very important for many complaints as its known symptoms of the head, stomach, intestinal canal, liver and kidneys abundantly show.
Sulphuric ac: Vomiting in the morning , acidity of stomach , burning in oesophagus and stomach , sour, acrid or foul eructations. It has been successfully used in subduing the craving for liquor.
Antimonium tart.: Gastric catarrh with great uneasiness in the stomach, nausea and vomiting of tough, slimy and bilious matter , watery diarrhea in small quantities , fullness of pit of stomach and abdomen, with pressure as of stones. Great thirst, loss of appetite, even disgust for any nourishment, tongue moist and whitish coated, bad taste and frequent eructations. Bronchial catarrh, with mucous rattling, tough and difficult expectoration , oppression of the chest necessitating the patient to sit up in bed.