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During the 19th century and before, bad water made drinking alcoholic drinks almost a necessity -- in any case, people drank by modern standards a tremendous amount.

I am guessing that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, despite the large number of cases that no doubt existed, was not well understood if only because it was so common; I know FAS is a fairly modern term.

Delirium Tremens (DTs) -- is it possible that the chronic usage of alcohol made this ironically a rare condition, maybe observed on ships when the rum ran out and only became really common during prohibition?

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    $\begingroup$ except that they drank, by modern standards, very weak drinks. Small beer was commonplace, which is so weak that the alcohol is insufficient to prevent spoilage. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Jul 11 '20 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Mary: But also there was rum and other stronger spirits which I think were watered. It is possible to drink a lot of alcohol but in small amounts per unit of time so that you never become drunk. But my sense is that there was a lot of drunkeness also. Maybe I am wrong, $\endgroup$
    – releseabe
    Jul 11 '20 at 16:51

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