Sir,-Thec medical view is that in- ebriates are not criminals, but are very sick patients, who require urgent medi-
Ninety-five per cent of all drinkers are social drinkers, who present no special medical or criminal problem. The remaining 5 per cent, are problem drink- ers, many of whom, especially returned soldiers, are suffering from various types of psychiatric illness. Their treatment is a psychiatric problem.
The first essential in treatment is a psychiatric diagnosis of their condition, for which purpose special alcoholic clinics have been established in many countries.
An essential part of these clinics is a hospital for the treatment of acute cases. The treatment has become so skilful that, for example, the Royal Navy expects a sailor wilh delirium tremens to be back on duty within three days from the onset of his symptoms. Such treatment con- trasts too sharply with the most unsatis- factory treatment of these patients in the Australian prisons and mental hos- pitals.
On recovery from the acute attack after- care treatment by Alcoholics Anonymous and social workers is imperative. In this country, most of these patients are so depressed by their prison and mental hospital experience that they find it im- possible to make the grade alone. Most of them are destitute with nearly every- thing they own in pawn. They require some assistance (which should rarely take the form of cash) for a week or two until they can get on their feet.
Despite all efforts at reform, many inebriates, either from choice or because "they are too far gone," are incurable. Prolonged periods of detention in men- tal hospitals and gaols have failed com- pletely to improve them. The farm pro- posal of the Rev. Robson would have the advantage of making them self-sup- porting and would be such a vast im- provement on present methods that it should be given a trial.
Letters on the subject demonstrate how many organisations are concerned with inebriates. Instead of each organisalion tackling the subject individually with no reference to the others, each body should pool its knowledge and experiences, and send representatives to one central body. Then and then only can a true and com- posite picture of the problem of alcoholism be obtained. Such a central body would work just as successfully here as it does
in England and America.