American Medical Society for the Study of Alcohol and Other Narcotics

The American Medical Society for the Study of Alcohol and Other Narcotics was formed by a merger. It was between the American Medical Temperance Association and the American Association for the Study and Cure of Inebriety.

There had been much overlap in both membership and activities of the two groups. In 1904, the decision was made that a merger would be in the interests of both organizations.

The American Medical Temperance Association was formed in 1891 at the annual meetings of the American Medical Association. The goal of the new group was to achieve total abstinence throughout the medical profession. It also sought to promote research on the effects of alcohol on health and disease.

American Medical Society for the Study of Alcohol and Other Narcotics

Thomas D. Crothers, M.D.

As its name implies, the American Association for the Study and Cure of Inebriety was focused on those goals. It had published the Journal of Inebriety under the editorship of Dr. Thomas D. Crothers. He attempted to keep the Journal free of the wet-dry issue that was raging throughout the country. Upon the merger, the new association assumed publication of the Journal. Dr. Crothers continued as editor throughout the entire time.

The American Medical Society for the Study of Alcohol and Other Narcotics clearly stated its purpose.

  1. To promote the scientific study of alcohol and other narcotics, particularly their etiological, physiological, therapeutic, medico-legal, sociological, and clinical aspects.
  2. To compile all the facts of the disease of inebriety and other forms of narcomania. To point out the means of cure and prevention by legal and institutional methods, and other remedial and prophylactic forms of treatment.
  3. To compile and make available the studies and experiences of physicians in all parts of the country who have given attention to the diseases associated with and following upon the use of alcohol and other forms of drugs.1

In announcing the merger, the new Association asserted this.

As a medical and hygienic topic the alcoholic problem has an intense personal interest, not only to every physical, but to the public generally in every town and city in the country. That interest demands concentrated efforts through the medium of a society to clear sway the present confusion, educate public sentiment, and make [physicians] the final authority in the consideration of the remedial measures for cure and prevention. For this purpose a most urgent appeal is made to all physicians in making the society the medium and authority for the scientific study of the subject.2

In spite of its stated purpose, and Dr. Crothers’ efforts, the the Association had clear abstinence and prohibitionist sentiments.3 This pervasive bias may have reduced its scientific credibility.

Dr. Crothers published editorials in 1910 and 1912 explaining the Association’s work and value. But membership declined. The Journal ceased publication in 1914. Membership continued to fall and the Association slowly faded away.

References

1 American Medical Society for the Study of Alcohol and Other Narcotics. In: Cherrington,  E., et al (eds.) Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem, v. 1. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1925, pp.

2  The American Medical Society for the Study of Alcohol and Other Narcotics. The Monthly Cyclopaedia of Practical Medicine, 1904, 7(10), 398.