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Abuse of Chloral Hydrate

Quarterly Journal of Inebriety, Vol. 4 (January, 1880), 53-54.

The persons who become habituated to chloral hydrate are of two or three classes, as a rule. Some have originally taken the narcotic to relieve pain, using it in the earliest application of it for a true medicinal and legitimate object, probably under medical direction. Finding that it gave relief and repose, they have continued the use of it, and at last have got so abnormally under its influence that they cannot get to sleep if they fail to resort to it. A second class of persons who take to chloral are alcoholic inebriates who have arrived at that stage of alcoholism when sleep is always disturbed, and often near impossible. These persons at first wake many times in the night with coldness of the lower limbs, cold sweatings, startings, and restless dreamings. In a little time they become nervous about submitting themselves to sleep, and before long habituate themselves to watchfulness and restlessness, until a confirmed insomnia is the result. Worn out with sleeplessness, and failing to find any relief that is satisfactory or safe in their false friend alcohol, they turn to chloral, and in it find for a season the oblivion which they desire and which they call rest. It is a kind of rest, and is no doubt better than no rest at all ' ; but it leads to the unhealthy states that we are now conversant with, and it rather promotes than destroys the craving for alcohol. In short, the man who takes to chloral after alcohol enlists two cravings for a single craving, and is double-shotted in the worst sense. A third class of men who became habituated to the use of chloral are men of extremely nervous and excitable temperament, who by nature, and often by the labors in which they are occupied, become bad sleepers. A little thing in the course of their daily routine oppresses them. What to other men is passing annoyance, thrown off with the next step, is to these men a worry and anxiety of hours. They are over-susceptible of what is said of them, and of their work, however good their work may be. They are too elated when praised, and too depressed when not praised or dispraised. They fail to play character-parts on the stage of this world, and as they lie down to rest they take all their cares and anxieties into bed with them, in the liveliest state of perturbation. Unable in this condition to sleep, and not knowing a more natural remedy, they resort to the use of such an instrument as chloral hydrate. They begin with a moderate dose, increase the dose as occasion seems to demand, and at last, in what they consider a safe and moderate system of employing it, they depend on the narcotic for their falsified repose.



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