There was a time in our nation's history when alcoholism was considered an honorable disease. And why would that be? Interesting question. Reader dthardy from Of Arms and the Law sent me this interesting e-mail in reference to one of my illegal drugs as self medication articles:
I once knew a psychiatrist lady friend, and her theory was that a lot of illicit drug use involved self-medication of one type or another. It was the only possible explanation for an illicit market in anti-psychotics, for instance.There was a time when we understood PTSD implicitly. Oh, we didn't have the science down. We didn't have a name for it. However, on a fundamental human level we knew what to do about it. By 1900 it was also understood that cannabis was a substitute for those who were debilitated by alcohol. It served the same purpose and was easier on the body. Nowadays in the military self medication with alcohol (or cannabis for that matter) is grounds for dismissal.
It's also interesting that in 19th century wars alcoholism was taken as pretty much normal -- the only way to counter the stress and PTSD. U.S. Grant wrote a letter of rec. for a retired soldier which said that he has only the vice expected of an old soldier, and expected his reader to understand that the fellow had a drinking problem and nothing else. When he in his memoirs damned a cowardly officer who was a drunk, he said words to the effect of he drank too much and had another vice not so often found in military officers. (One of his best friends, a brigadier who was killed at Wilderness, *always* went into battle drunk. His troops wrote with amusement of his having charged his horse thru their line, literally thru it, then shouted that we will cut them down as I cut down this tree, whereupon he swung an axe at a sapling, missed, and nearly fell from the saddle. Grant merely said that he was the bravest officer he'd even known, and apparently his going into battle under the influence was regarded merely as an eccentricity.
And then there was the confederate account to the effect of the general gave the order to charge, but he was already well charged himself.
We have gone backwards in our understanding and forwards in our "morality". I don't think it is an improvement.