[Eradication of opium smoking in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945)].
Eradication of opium smoking during the Japanese colonial period is one of the most proud medical accomplishments in Taiwan. The mission was accomplished mainly due to a governmental policy of gradual prohibition in 1897 and the establishment of the Government Center Hospital for Opium Addicts in 1930. Professor Tsungming Tu, medical director of the Government Center Hospital, was responsible for the unique medical treatment of opium addiction there. The latter consisted of an immediate withdrawal of opium smoking which was partly substituted by small amounts of morphine in gradual reduction, and at the same time special pills were given to enhance the sympathetic activity also to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. By such treatment, the habit of opium smoking could often be eliminated in a few weeks. The success rate was 46%. Shortly after the World War II, the number of opium smokers in Taiwan became negligible. In early colonial period, however, there were grass roots movements as well as private efforts by physicians of Western medicine to treat opium addiction. In 1898, the Flying Phoenix Society which was a laymen organization worshipping deities began to use supernatural power to force the addicts to stop opium smoking. More than thirty thousand were enlisted and the success rate was 58%. In 1908, the enthabitual treatment in a private correction infirmary called 'Newmatou' consisted of a substitute treatment using morphine to replace opium and a gradual reduction in morphine dosage afterwards. All addicts were hospitalized until treatment goal was achieved. Among 55 addicts thus treated, 53 (96%) were ridded of opium smoking habit. The treatment method was almost identical to that employed by Professor Tu. Another physician, Dr. Ching-yue Lin, who worked at the Red Cross Hospital in Taipei, also used substitute treatment, replacing opium by heroine, and obtained a success rate of 80%. Dr. Lin published his comprehensive study on opium addiction and treatment in the Journal of the Formosan Medical Association in 1908. Therefore, Dr. Tu's enthabitual treatment seemed to be not so unique. Previous treatments employed by physicians at 'Newmatou' infirmary and by Dr. Lin at the Red Cross Hospital were strikingly similar or nearly the same. This review may help us reassess the prevailing opinion regarding the history of eliminating opium smoking in Taiwan.
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