This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
The opium and morphine habits are often the result of the use of these drugs by the physician in the treatment of some disease that can be more readily, and certainly more rationally cared for by Hygienic measures. The medical profession stands convicted of the crime of producing thousands of drug-addicts. As it pleads guilty to the charge, there seems to be no reason to labor the point. Cocaine using often becomes habitual as a result of using proprietary catarrh "remedies." Chloral and barbiturate addiction is a common result of the use of these drugs for purposes of inducing "sleep" in insomnia. Had the medical profession not taught mankind for ages that poisons are beneficent, these forms of poison addiction would be unknown.
Macfadden's Encyclopedia of Physical Culture says: "Fasting is the most valuable of all forms of treatment for overcoming the pathologic condition of the body brought about by the habitual use of poison. Fasting gives the body an opportunity to readjust itself in a normal way and also hastens the elimination of any poison remaining in the system. The drug-fiend has lost his appetite anyway, and by means of a fast will regain a normal condition of the alimentary canal in a fraction of the time that would otherwise be consumed in the process. Especially the mind will clear and gain strength, and he will much sooner find himself in possession of the moral impulse and the will to fight his habit."
The digestive system and the nervous system of the dope addict are somewhat the same as those of the alcohol addict and from the same causehabitual lashing with poisons. Rest--physical, mental and physiological--are the great needs. In a remarkably short time, the fasting patient finds his supposed "craving" for morphine or other poisons, has disappeared.
It is, of course, necessary to discontinue the use of the drug. Experience has shown just what we should expect on a priori grounds to be true, namely, that the abrupt withdrawal of all drugs at the very outset is far more satisfactory in the long run than any effort to gradually withdraw it. The "tapering off" process continues the injury and keeps alive the suffering that causes resort to the drug.
Violent reactions often follow the withdrawal of the drug. For this reason, it is essential to take great care of the patient. Mania following the withdrawal of morphine or opium, or delirium tremens following the withdrawal of alcohol are similar developments. They indicate the gravity of the injury to the nervous system and reveal how important and urgent is the need to get away from the use of the poison. It is much better, in cases of mania, to completely immerse the body of the patient in warm water for two to three hours, even if he has to be strapped in the tub, until his nerves become quiet, than to resort to even a small dose of the drug. A cold cloth or a cold pack should be placed on the head while the patient is thus immersed in the hot bath.
Bear in mind that these violent reactions soon cease as the patient fasts. With the gradual recovery of energy, repair of his damaged nervous system and regeneration of his membranes, the "call" for the "soothing" morphine, chlorate, cocaine, etc., grows so faint that it is easy to discontinue its use. Of the cases of morphinism I have assisted in caring for in this manner, not one, so far as I have learned, has ever returned to its use.