Read CHAPTER XIV of The No Breakfast Plan and the Fasting-Cure , free online book, by Edward Hooker Dewey, on ReadCentral.com.

I shall not take time in telling the evils of alcoholics. It would not be more enlightening were I to spend hours in telling of wrecked lives, of wrecked homes, of prisons filled with their victims, of the immense loss to states and nations from the loss to sufferers and the loss they inflict. Alcoholism has no sense for frowning, ominous statistics, for it is a disease to be rationally treated, a disease to be rationally avoided.

In the light of later science the word “stimulants” has become a misnomer as applied to alcoholics; the term, no doubt, came into use from the fact that under their use there is more endurance to both physical and mental ills, an endurance or indifference ascribed to stimulation.

If power is stimulated by their use, then there should be a rise in temperature whereby severe cold is better endured; but this is not the fact any more than that temperature is lowered whereby extreme heat is endured; in either case the endurance is due to benumbed brain-centres. The alcoholic simply lessens the power to suffer mentally or physically; hence in degree it is an anæsthetic, and as such it also affects the moral sense and lessens the power of reason and judgment. They are habitually taken for no other reason than for the temporary relief they give to some ill of life.

It seems the very depths of total depravity when there is no bread for the hungry family, that the price of a loaf will rather be spent for a drink; but it is not so much moral depravity as depravity of brain-substance. The lethal drink is taken because without it there is more acute suffering than from the want of a loaf of bread by the entire family. In my practice an ordinarily sober father would always get drunk and stay drunk while any member of his family was sick, and for the sole reason that he could not endure the worry of apprehension. This was not so much depravity as an acute sense of the suffering and danger involved, a painful rousing of the best instincts of the soul, those instincts that raise man above the brute and make him the noblest work of the divine hand. That is not a bad man at heart who has such a sense of affection for his wife or child when they seem dangerously sick that he must have artificial aid to endurance; and if you shall detect the alcoholic odor in his breath at the funeral you may know that there is heart agony under repression.

The fact that alcoholics are anaesthetics, and not stimulants, has become known to a few of the scientists in the medical profession; but it can scarcely be said to have become known to the profession generally. That the habitual drinker partakes for any other reason than to drown his woes that will not stay drowned, and that the drowning is not stimulation, do not need argument.

The alcoholic in proportion to its strength is mental chaos and paralysis to power, and it has not the virtue to contain an atom that can be converted into a living atom. In not the least sense is it a tissue-builder, and its use by the medical profession is without the shadow of a reason, and is all the more reprehensible in cases of shock.

Let us see: shock in degree is brain paralysis; alcoholics in degree are brain paralyzers; shock is simply a state of exhaustion with rest the supreme need. All the rousement that is necessary and that can avail will be called into action by the need of oxygen. There are cases of disease in which breathing goes on hour after hour, when the soul seems to have departed and with it every life sense. The patient has become dead beyond reviving, and yet breathes hour after hour. Now can one for one moment think that an alcoholic can add to the power of the respiratory centres of the brain to respond to the calls for oxygen and so prolong life? Shock in its gravest degree is to be considered the extreme of the tired-out condition, with rest the only restorative means; and rest may be permitted with the certainty that for mere breathing purposes alcoholics are dangerous in proportion to the gravity of the shock.

In health the alcoholic only adds discomfort, because there are no complaints to soothe; hence it is the duty of every mother so to train her sons in health-habits that those first drinks will be discouraging because they bring no cheer of contrast, but rather sensations that are not suggestive of a better physical condition.

Alcoholics have a corroding effect upon the mucous membrane of the stomach, a congestive effect by which the glands are subjected to starving pressure; hence their use always disables the mere mechanics and the chemistry involved in digestion, and so prolongs disease, and this applies to all medicines that corrode. This corroding power of the alcoholics upon the walls of the stomach and its paralyzing effect upon the brain-centres, with the additional fact that there is nothing in it that adds force to any life power or that can be converted into living atoms, should make its use in the stomach of the sick a crime scarcely to be excused by ignorance.

The evolution of the drunkard is a process of culture, and involves something of a constitutional tendency as in other diseases. I conceive that there is an alcoholic temperament, or a temperament in which the inability to bear with patience the various mental and physical woes of life is marked even from childhood. Indigestion and every cause that lowers vital power only add to the importance of such a nervous system.

The first step in the evolution of the drunkard is the first untimely meal drawn from the breast of the mother. By irregular nursings and the nursings merely to stop crying the nervous system is continually overtaxed. There are the untimely meals to prevent gluttony; there are the between-meal lunches to incite nervousness, irritability, a feeling of unrest that nothing seems to satisfy.

This goes on year after year until the time comes when that first drink has power to soothe many discordant voices, and the die is cast. Other drinks follow, with each to lessen the power of the dynamo and to disable the machine. At first, drink is indulged not without a sense of wrongdoing, but with that feeling of power in reserve to keep within the limits of safety.

The gradual corrosion of the stomach adding to the labors of the brain in the matter of food mass decomposition as well as digestion marks the decline of power to abstain and the degradation of every sense that makes life worth living. Now add to the corrosion of the membrane and the paralysis of the brain-centres from alcoholics the other inciting causes in the culture of disease, and you have the evolution of the drunkard.

How is he to be cured? Only through a fast that shall let that diseased stomach become new from regeneration, that will let the brain accumulate rest in reserve. For a time you will need to have him under bonds, for his will power is abolished. Put him where there will be deaf ears to the cries of morbid nature, for there is to be a conflict at first; but long before hunger will come the storm will subside; and finally, when food will be really desired, there will be a new stomach and a new brain to which an alcoholic will be no temptation.

This is no figure of speech, because there is such a continual change of life and death going on in the soft tissues of the body that in a month or more of fasting it may be assumed that much of the tissues which is left has undergone reconstruction, and both brain and stomach act as if they are new when the time comes to restore the lost pounds.

The ways of the kitchen and dining-room are the ways of disease and death, ways whose ends are prisons, asylums, scaffolds, to a far larger extent than is dreamed of by the fathers and mothers of the land. A new crusade against intemperance, the intemperance of the dining-room, is the only one that will ever settle this so-called liquor question. The rum-seller will only pull down his sign through the starvation of his business.

With brains and stomachs kept in the highest order, the alcoholic has only the least power of the beguiling kind; it is rather a dose whose effects do not invite repetition. But for all who have the drink disease seemingly beyond hope a fast of a month, or two months if necessary, will cure any stomach or brain, no matter how pickled they are with alcoholic soaking, and with only the least disturbance in the habit breaking; even within a week the hardest of the fighting should be over when the fast is made absolute.