During the course of my practice in treating the various chronic diseases, now and then an alcoholic would come in or be brought in for treatment. My work with such patients has been quite strenuous. Since the load was quite heavy, I did not accept every alcoholic that came to me. I made a practice of refusing male alcoholics because I did not have a sufficient number of male attendants. I did, however, take female alcoholics from time to time.
There was one alcoholic patient who would return for treatments on an average of every three months. I was sorry for Miss J. R. because she was in a blind alley-a victim of economic insecurity, influenced by the unwholesome company of a male keeper. He could drink with-out seeming drunk. When he got her drunk, she became despondent and then required loving care and treatment.
I grew fond of Miss J. R. and tried to help her to the best of my ability. Sometimes she phoned requesting that I come to save her from suicide; at such times she always threatened to throw herself out of the window of her twelfth-floor apartment.
Every time I admitted this patient for treatment, I was successful in getting her out of her miserable depressed condition. She would gain from 15 to 25 pounds within about four to six weeks. The pity of it was that she would return to her unwholesome environment and pay the price for the kind of life she had chosen.
If the treatment of alcoholism proves correct in one case, it can prove equally correct in a thousand cases. The principles of treatment are fundamental. In the first place, the patient must be put into a comfortable bed in a good-sized, well ventilated room.
Miss J. R. responded to my care. She was put to bed on rest cure- Because of her suicidal tendencies, during the first three days she was given a grain-and-a-half capsule of nembuthal. This was administered for night sleep and again, if necessary, for day rest and sleep. After three days the nembuthal was permitted for night sleep only. This was one of the very few patients whom I allowed to take sleeping pills.
The food intake during the first three days consisted of freshly made orange juice; grapefruit juice, and lemonadethe latter sweetened with honey. These beverages were given to the patient at two-hour intervals. At her bedside table she always had one or two glasses of fruit juice with an ice cube or two in it. Cold drinks are not only soothing, but also are a good substitute to satisfy the craving for liquor.
The bowels were cleansed once or twice a day by means of an enema, or at the bedside, by a high colonic portable irrigation machine.
After three days the patient was put on a building food program. By then she had a good appetite for a full breakfastan egg, a slice of toast, a glass of Postum, and a small dish of cereal with rich sweet cream. She was permitted to keep fresh raw fruit at the bedside to eat whenever there was an appetite for it.
Luncheon consisted of a steamed vegetable, baked potato or rice and a glass of raw vegetable juice. The evening meal consisted of raw salad with cottage cheese or some other kind of cheese, steamed vegetables, a glass of freshly made fruit juice, and a glass of milk or buttermilk.