Winston Churchill is a notorious drinker and has admitted that he relied on alcohol that he constantly had a glass of whisky by him. But did you know that he got a doctor to prescribe him with unlimited alcohol?
While visiting the US during the Prohibition era, Winston Churchill secured a doctor’s note stating that he was allowed to drink an indefinite amount of alcohol as a form of treatment following a vehicular accident.
Why Was Alcohol Illegal in the United States?
During Prohibition, the manufacturing, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages were legally prevented in the United States. This lasted from 1920 to 1933 under the terms of the 18th Amendment.
The nationwide Prohibition happened due to the temperance movement that advocated for modernism. It was a sincere attempt to curb domestic violence and uphold the traditional values of the home. However, this movement turned into the darkest era of American history.
Due to the ban on alcohol and other activities, bootlegging, speakeasies, and illegal distilling operations flourished. This eventually gave rise to gangsterism since organized crime societies capitalized on this. (Source: Britannica)
How Did Churchill Get a Pass?
During this era, the US Department of Treasury authorized doctors to write prescriptions for alcohol to be used for medicinal purposes. Doctors took advantage of this power and turned it into a lucrative gig. According to the Library of Congress, they applied for permits within the first six months of the Prohibition.
Every ten days, patients willing to pay about $3 for a prescription and another $3 or $4 to have it filled could get a pint of booze.The Smithsonian Magazine
It was assumed that doctors were going through the correct protocol of examining and diagnosing patients prior to giving out prescriptions, but apparently, they were mostly fake.
There may have been some people who were being prescribed because there was a perceived medical need, but it was really a way for some physicians and pharmacists to make a few extra bucks.Daniel Okrent, Author, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
In 1931, Winston Churchill was due to give a series of lectures on the Pathway of the English-Speaking People in New York. Being a notorious drinker himself, he did not want to take chances during his visit. Unknown to most, Churchill was struck by a car moving 30 miles an hour. He was dragged several feet and was severely injured. He had bruising on his chest, a sprained right shoulder, and abrasions cutting across his forehead and nose.
Dr. Otto C. Pickhardt prescribed Churchill with alcohol saying that the use of alcoholic spirits, especially at mealtimes. The quantity is naturally indefinitely, but the minimum requirement would be 250 cubic centimeters daily. This translates to more than 8 ounces per day. Apparently, Champagne does wonders for bruises and sprains. (Source: History)
How Did Prohibition End?
Prohibition was failing monumentally to enforce sobriety. This cost the government billions, and it soon lost support in the 1930s. By 1933, the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified and passed, which ultimately ended national Prohibition. (Source: History)