Charlene Raddon began
writing nearly forty years ago. She never meant to be a writer. In college she
studied fine arts. But that was before she discovered romance novels, and
before she woke up one morning after a dream so vivid she knew it belonged in a
book. She got out an old typewriter and ever since, instead of painting
pictures with paints and a brush, she does it with words. An Amazon bestselling
author, Charlene was first published in 1994 by Kensington Books. Today, she's
an Indie author. She is also a book cover designer specializing in western
DIPSOMANIA IN 19th
Believe it or not, the Puritans believed in drinking.
In fact, they brought more beer with them than water. Early Americans took a
healthful dram for breakfast, whiskey for a lunchtime tipple, ale with supper
and ended the day with a nightcap. Continuous imbibing clearly built up a
tolerance. By 1830, consumption had peaked at 7 gallons per year per person.
By the late 19th Century, dipsomania, or alcoholism,
was being treated as a disease. The first arrest for driving under the
influence of alcohol was in 1897.
Physicians began to consider alcoholism a disease, but
they had no real cure. There were facilities for the treatment of dipsomania,
and if that failed, there were always insane asylums where people with
disabilities of all sorts were put to get them out of the way.
In my new novel being released December 15, titled Thalia, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge Book 7, my
heroine, Thalia, goes to the town doctor for advice in trying to cure the man
she loves of drinking. He tells her, "Alcohol consumption eats at your
innards over a long period of time and brings about a long slow death. It
grinds away a man's liver and other organs. Those who recover from it are often
plagued with liver and heart problems the rest of their lives." He tells
her of asylums back east where they treat dipsomania, but he doesn't recommend
them. "Horrible places they are," he says.
But alcohol wasn't
the only addiction rampant in the nineteenth century. During this time, much of
the food consumed by working-class families was adulterated by foreign
substances, contaminated by chemicals, or befouled by animal and human
excrement. By the 1840s home-baked bread had died out among the rural poor; in
the small tenements of the urban masses, unequipped as these were with ovens,
it never existed. The list of poisonous additives reads like the stock list of
some mad and malevolent chemist: strychnine, cocculus inculus (both
hallucinogens) and copperas in rum and beer; sulphate of copper in pickles,
bottled fruit, wine, and preserves; lead chromate in mustard and snuff;
sulphate of iron in tea and beer; ferric ferrocynanide, lime sulphate, and turmeric
in Chinese tea; copper carbonate, lead sulphate, bisulphate of mercury, and
Venetian lead in sugar confectionery and chocolate; lead in wine and cider; all
were extensively used and accumulative in effect, resulting, over a long
period, in chronic gastritis, and often fatal food poisoning.
And adults weren't
the only ones imbibing these poisons. Most medicines, even for children,
contained alcohol or opiates or both. Laudanum
is a tincture of opium containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the
equivalent of 1% morphine). Medical officers were convinced that one of the
major causes of infant mortality was the widespread practice of giving children
narcotics, primarily opium, to quiet them. Laudanum was cheap enough, about the
price of a pint of beer. Opium killed far more infants through starvation than
overdose. Dr. Greenhow, investigating for the English Privy Council, noted how
children 'kept in a state of continued narcotism will be thereby disinclined
for food, and be but imperfectly nourished.'
At mid-century at
least ten proprietary brands of medicines containing opiates existed, with
Godfrey's Cordial, Steedman's Powder, and the grandly named Atkinson's Royal
Infants Preservative among the most popular. Opium in pills and penny sticks
was widely sold and opium-taking was described a way of life in places.
Morphine was treated like a new-fangled wonder drug.
Injected with a hypodermic syringe, the medication relieved pain, asthma,
headaches, alcoholics’ delirium tremens, gastrointestinal diseases and
menstrual cramps. By the late 1800s, women made up more than 60 percent of
By 1895, morphine and opium powders, like OxyContin and other prescription
opioids today, had led to an addiction epidemic that affected roughly 1 in 200
Americans. The Civil War helped. The Union Army alone issued nearly 10 million
opium pills to its soldiers, plus 2.8 million ounces of opium powders and
tinctures. An unknown number of soldiers returned home addicted, or with war
wounds that opium relieved. Opiates made up 15 percent of all prescriptions
dispensed in Boston in 1888, according to a survey of the city’s drug stores.
Only around 1895, at the peak of the epidemic, did doctors begin to slow and
reverse the overuse of opiates. Advances in medicine and public health played a
role: acceptance of the germ theory of disease, vaccines, x-rays, and the debut
of new pain relievers, such as aspirin in 1899. Better sanitation meant fewer
patients contracting dysentery or other gastrointestinal diseases, then turning
to opiates for their constipating and pain-relieving effects.
Blurb for Thalia:
Thalia Plunkett has loved Duncan Moon, known as Dinky,
all her life. Now he's in big trouble. Can Thalia help Duncan kick the booze
threatening to kill him, and win his love? Or will he choose whiskey over her?
And who is the mysterious man watching Thalia?
BUY LINK FOR THALIA: