Helping Hands

Psychiatry Upset By 'Peace' Drugs, Association Warns Against Tranquilizing Pills for Everyday Tensions , Widespread Use Noted, Casual Dosage Is Scored as Medically Unsound and a Danger to Public

Warning against "peace pills": The American Psychiatric Association has become disturbed over the tremendous consumption of so-called "peace pills" by alcoholics and others who seek artificial aids to relaxation. The pills - containing highly-publicized tranquilizing drugs - are often prescribed by doctors to relieve tension.

"The tranquilizing drugs have not been in use long enough to determine the full range, duration and medical significance of their side effects," the Association said in a formal statement. "Casual use of the drugs is medically unsound and constitutes a public danger."

FIFTY THOUSAND LIVES MADE HAPPIER: Twelve years ago, the Philadelphia Municipal Court began a "reclamation project" to save habitual drunks from jail and from themselves. It turned to AA for help, and a member of AA attended each session of the Domestic Relations Court to talk to an average of six or seven defendants brought up every day on drunk charges.

Presiding Judge Hazel H. Brown of the Court says the twelve-years program has proved "unbelievably gratifying." Some 11,700 persons have been rehabilitated. Most of that number are married and have children, and probation officials estimate that a total of 50,000 persons have shared the peace of mind and happiness.

In addition to regular open and closed meetings, AA members conduct special Saturday morning sessions for persons out on parole. More than 300 are currently attending these meetings.

WE DON'T TAKE SIDES: "Many of the groups working in the field of problem drinking spend more time fighting each other than they devote to helping the alcoholic," according to Seldon Bacon, director of the Yale University Summer School of Alcoholic Studies. Mr. Bacon recently told the Midwest Institute on Alcohol Studies that this rivalry between groups studying the problem of alcoholism "may be more demoralizing to society than the problem drinker."

BIG BROTHER: A new "Big Brothers of AA" group has been started at Palm Beach, Fla. The group is modeled on a Big Brothers group of some 500 Ohio AA's. When AA members in prison are released, they are met by a Big Brother who helps in making AA contact outside the jail.

ARE PROBLEM DRINKERS PROBLEM PATIENTS? "Drunks require three times the amount of nursing care and attention as the average hospital patient," according to Dr. R.E. McGill, administrator of the Huey P. Long Charity Hospital at Pineville, La. Dr. McGill made the statement at the National Conferences on Problems of Alcoholism, held in New York.

On the other hand, Director Melvin Dunn of St. John's Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y., said his hospital found alcoholics "little or no problem," because of the cooperation of AA.

COMMITTEE FOR SKID ROADERS: The committee on the Homeless Alcoholic working with the National Committee on Alcoholism, is undertaking a program to find out more about ways to help the skid road drunk. It plans to hold an institute on one or more phases of the problem every year. Chairman is John M. Murtagh, chief magistrate of the magistrates' court, New York City.

From the August 1956 GrapevineŠ

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