Doctor Judas: A Portrayal of the Opium Habit

by Charles Evans

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William Rosser Cobbe was a Chicago journalist who became addicted to opium, which he nicknamed ‘Doctor Judas.’ He was addicted for at least nine years at the time of writing his account, and discusses the mental and physical toll years of addiction took on himself, as well as that of his family. He hoped that his account would cause physicians to reconsider so generously prescribing opium, along with other drugs. Cobbe also writes of other addictive agents, such as cigarettes and cocaine.

At the time of his death, it did not appear that Cobbe had fully kicked his addictions. He was found dead in a hallway in 1907. He was doing various writing jobs while living in New York, where he had moved three years before his passing. He was estranged from his family, as his wife and two daughters were living in Chicago. It is believed that Cobbe was originally a medical doctor, but lost his position due to addiction.