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August 1976

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research and Treatment

Ahead of His Time

Many of these items are contrary to AA philosophy. Their publication here does not mean that the Grapevine endorses or approves them; they are offered solely for your information.

The recent passage by the [New York] State Legislature of a law decriminalizing public intoxication reminded me that at the turn of the century an illustrious Buffalonian advocated abolition of the statutory penalty on alcoholics. I am referring to the late Buffalo health commissioner, Dr. Francis E. Fronczak.

Dr. Fronczak urged the county legislators to enact an intoxication law which would regard an alcoholic as a sick person rather than criminal. The county legislators must certainly have been startled by the young physician's proposition, which read: "Drunkenness, gentlemen, is not a crime, it is a disease, and should be treated as such. This is an opinion of men of eminence in law and medicine, and therefore let us begin to treat it as such in the closing year of the 19th century of our era."

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