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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/463

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DRUG ABUSES

DRUG ABUSES, THEIR EFFECTS ON THE PEOPLE
By J. MADISON TAYLOR, A.B., M.D.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.

DRUG abuses have become so grave that at last the medical profession is compelled to correct them. The public should learn clearly our mutual positions in the proper and improper use of drugs, which are chemical substances found useful or necessary to combat the effects of disease. They are demanded in many instances where no other known means are available. It is obvious, however, that misuse is capable of vastly greater harm than their absence.

Certain 'schools of medicine' are recognized, differing chiefly in the opinions entertained as to what drugs shall be employed and what effects are to be expected from them, as well as the manner of their administration. The 'schools' most prominent are two; the regular profession of medicine and that of homeopathy. Though starting from the same basis, i. e., long experience in the selection and preparation of remedial substances, begun in the earliest periods of history, a time came when revolt arose from the existing confusion. Hahneman, a vigorous dogmatic thinker, determined to change the point of view hitherto entertained, and in the process accomplished a number of important results. The chief of these was in the preparation of drugs, and in the amounts administered. He evolved a number of opinions and many shrewd conjectures, some fanciful and some based on careful observation, as to drug effects, direct and indirect. To-day, after a century of critical scrutinization of recorded principles, these two schools differ on essential points inconsiderably. The vital point is that drugs in one form or another are popularly believed to be endowed with enormous powers for good. History encourages this belief, especially when one considers the discovery of cinchona and certain specifics, such as mercury, and later the antitoxins. The utility of drugs, remedial substances foreign to the economy, is of the highest order in many forms of disease. In the future when the principles of their action are fully understood, both from experience and physiology, they will continue to exert even more definite usefulness. Some hygienic and other measures are capable of replacing them, many of supplementing them, but in certain grave emergencies they are absolutely required. To omit their use, and expect to discharge full duty to the sick, is a failure to furnish something essential, permitting a person endangered by the tyranny of