The study of inebriety: medicine and the law

James Nicholls

in The Politics of Alcohol

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780719077050
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702758 | DOI:
The study of inebriety: medicine and the law

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The period between 1870 and 1918 witnessed intense intellectual and political activity around alcohol addiction. Many writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw the drink question as a straight conflict between defining habitual drunkenness as vice or disease. In truth, however, it could never be fully accounted for as either. The late nineteenth century certainly witnessed a marked increase in the use, and influence, of disease-based models of alcohol addiction. The disease model of alcohol addiction first entered the public domain in Britain through the introduction of legislation which allowed for the creation of quasi-penal institutions to which ‘habitual drunkards’ could be committed for periods of restraint and rehabilitation. The Liberal MP for Bath, Donald Dalrymple, campaigned for the creation of asylums for the treatment of habitual drunkards, leading to the eventual passing of the Habitual Drunkards Act in 1879. This chapter discusses inebriety, medicine and law, retreat and rehabilitation of habitual drunkards, the inebriate asylum movement, differences between inebriety and dipsomania, drink and criminal liability, inebriety and degeneration, and the decline of medical temperance.

Keywords: Britain; alcohol addiction; drink question; disease model; Donald Dalrymple; asylums; habitual drunkards; inebriety; temperance; rehabilitation

Chapter.  8405 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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