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FACTS ABOUT NARCOTICS - Victor & Virginia Vogel
Several thousand young people under the age of 21 are already addicted to narcotic drugs or are becoming addicts! What are the facts on this serious problem? Why have so many young people turned to drugs? Here is what they say:
- It seemed like everybody was doing it.
- I started using heroin with friends at the dance hall - half of the kids I know were using it.
- Three fourths of the boys in my neighborhood were playing around with heroin.
- My boy friend started me on heroin.
- You can buy heroin on every corner in my part of town - and it only cost fifty cents a cap.
- I just followed the crowd - until I got caught stealing to buy drugs and was sent to jail.
Many young people become drug addicts because they don't realize what they're getting into. They think they'll go along with the crowd, take heroin or morphine or marijuana once in a while for harmless fun, and then stop. They know that some people become addicts, but they don't believe it can happen to them.
The sad truth is that once you start taking drugs it doesn't make any difference what sort of person you are. Once you start, you can't stop - and then you're an addict. Drug addiction can be cured, in many cases, but it involves months of medical and psychiatric treatment in a special hospital. And getting off drugs is distressing and tedious even under the best circumstances.
It is vitally important that all of us know the true facts about narcotic drugs - what they do to people, what kind of people start taking these drugs, how addicts are treated, and above all, how addiction can be prevented. That's what this booklet will tell you in the following chapters.
Chapter I - Let's look back
Fig. 1. About 900 A. D. camel trains carried opium from Asia Minor to other nations.
Fig. 2. The Harrison Narcotics Act made it illegal for addicts to buy opium.
Ever since the world began, people have experienced pain and fear, unhappiness and disappointment. These unpleasant feelings play a part in everyone's life. It's not surprising that people try to escape them - to forget about them.
Sleep is nature's way of helping us. It gives us rest from physical exertion and mental activity, leaving us refreshed and better able to cope with our problems. This is the healthful, natural way of easing pain and discouragement.
But sleep is not enough for some people. It isn't possible to sleep all the time, or even when you need and want rest. So from earliest times people have looked for a substitute, for some other way of easing their difficulties. Some have thought they found it in various drugs, which partly imitate nature's way of relieving care and fatigue. The most common of the sleep-producing or numbing drugs is alcohol. Opium from the poppy plant is another drug that has helped people forget trouble temporarily and given them relief from physical pain. People have also used stimulating drugs, such as cocaine, which give them false confidence that they can meet and overcome their difficulties.
Although people have used drugs since time immemorial, it has always been the poorly adjusted individuals who have used these artificial means of meeting life's problems and fears. They never seem to realize that these drugs actually lessen their ability to meet difficulties, and so they accept false temporary relief instead of looking for more permanent solutions to their problems.
Early history of opium
For as far back as we can discover, man has known about the poppy plant. Even prehistoric people cultivated it. Mesopotamia was probably the original home of the poppy, according to the findings of archaeologists. So it's not surprising that the Egyptians and Persians knew about opium at least a thousand years before Christ.
By the beginning of the Christian Era, opium and its uses were well known. The Greeks and Romans used it in practicing medicine, and it became widely used in Rome.
Early Mohammedan and Arabian physicians used it, too. They prescribed it for headaches and other ailments. In those days opium was taken by mouth and also used in a liniment for relieving the pain of bruises and strains.
During the ninth and tenth centuries, products were prepared from the poppy in Asia Minor and carried to other parts of the world by Arab camel trains. In this way opium was introduced into Persia, India, and China, where it was widely recommended for the relief of dysentery and for diseases of the eyes. Opium later became a very profitable article of trade after the sea route to the East was opened in the fifteenth century. The drug became so widely used in India that eventually the poppy plant was raised there, and several hundred years later the East India Company did a thriving business, bringing opium from India to China.
So much opium was shipped to China, and the opium-smoking habit increased so tremendously, that the Chinese government tried to do something about the situation. In 1820 they prohibited any ship carrying opium from entering the Canton River, which meant that the East India Company lost a great deal of valuable business. As a result, a system of smuggling was set up. This caused trouble between England and China, which came to a head in the Opium War of 1840.
Some years later a treaty was signed allowing opium to be imported into several Chinese ports, and eventually opium was made an article of legal trade in all Chinese ports. The Chinese government wasn't very happy about the importing of opium, but the drug was used so widely in China that the laws against it didn't do much good.
During the war between the Japanese and the Chinese in the 1930's. opium was used as a "weapon" by the old Japanese government. They paid the Chinese war lords to have the farmers in their domains raise opium. The Japanese then distributed it to other parts of China and Manchuria. This scheme helped the Japanese aggressors because it lessened the resistance of the Chinese. (The new Japanese government is vigorously fighting drug addiction.) Opium makes people lethargic. They lose their enthusiasm and aggressiveness and as a result they don't fight very well.
Opium in Europe and the United States
Ever since the time of the early Romans, scientists and medical men throughout Europe used opium. A noted Dutch physician in 1600 declared that without opium he couldn't practice medicine. And another physician was called "Dr. Opiatus" because he gave so much ot the drug to his patients.
A chemist named Serturner separated morphine from opium in 1803. This was the first of many drugs to be isolated from opium, and was called "morphineum" after Morpheus, the god of sleep.
In the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries large quantities of medicines containing opium, or forms of it, were manufactured and widely distributed. Various pain-killing medicines containing these drugs could be bought by anyone at a very low cost.
It was during this time that doctors learned to inject drugs through the skin with a needle. This is known as the hypodermic method. This new, quick way of relieving pain was widely used by many army surgeons in the Civil War, and as a result many soldiers started taking narcotic drugs.
Gradually, many physicians and other observant people began to realize that medicines containing opium were not safe. Used excessively, over a long period of time, these medicines proved to be dangerous to people's health. Unfortunately, the addicting dangers of these drugs were not agreed on by all physicians and so they were taken freely by many people.
Opium-smoking was introduced to the Pacific Coast by Chinese immigrants in the early 1800's, and the habit was taken up by the "sporting" crowds in large coastal cities such as San Francisco and New Orleans. Gradually the habit spread until people from West to East were smoking opium. Many cities passed laws prohibiting the smoking of opium or the operation of a smoking "den."
The beginning of anti-drug laws
Around the turn of the century, the public began to be warned about opium and the drugs derived from it. They were told that people who used these drugs soon became addicts. Newspapers and magazines helped in the campaign to tell the public about the dangers of addiction. Several series of articles, plus the influence of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, all helped inform people that the use of narcotics needed to be controlled. Medical and pharmaceutical textbooks started to include warnings about these drugs, and physicians began to see the danger of overdosing patients with heroin and morphine.
All these forces combined to bring the subject before the public and led to the final passing of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 and its later amendments regulating the importation, manufacture, production, compounding, sale, dispensing, or giving away of opium or coca leaves (containing cocaine), their salts, derivatives, or preparations. Under this law all wholesale and retail dealers, doctors, institutions, hospitals, and others dealing in or prescribing drugs for medicinal use must obtain licenses and keep an accurate inventory of the drugs bought, used, and sold. This law made it illegal for the addict to buy or possess opium or drugs derived from it. Doctors could only use these drugs in the treatment of their patients; they were not allowed to prescribe or give them to people for the purpose of addiction.
This law, although a good one, left thousands of persons who were addicted to drugs and who were unable to stop of their own free will without a place to go for treatment. The exception was in California, where the state operated a hospital for addicts for a time. (The first federal addict hospital opened in 1935.) The criminal underworld saw its chance and set up a system of smuggling and illegal traffic in narcotic drugs. People who were addicted to the use of these drugs were forced either to get their supply illegally or to get medical drugs by trickery from a physician or druggist.
After the Harrison Narcotic Act became law in 1914, drug addiction steadily decreased. During World War I and World War II there were sharp declines in addiction because all shipping and commerce were cut off with the countries that grow the opium poppy. After each of these wars addiction went up again, although not above the pre-war levels. But in 1948, addiction showed a huge spurt, particularly among young people.
Chapter II - What drugs cause addiction?
Drugs are extremely valuable to modern medicine. Doctors would have a difficult time getting along without them. But drugs are often harmful when misused. This is particularly true of narcotic or other addicting drugs.
What are these drugs? What distinguishes them from such things as aspirin? A drug that causes addiction is:
1. one that is harmful if taken repeatedly over a period of time, and
2. one that the individual is not able to stop taking of his own free will.
What happens to the person who takes addicting drugs? One or more of these things result:
1. He becomes emotionally dependent on the drug and desires its effects.
2. He becomes physically dependent on the drug. His body needs it.
3. He becomes ill when he stops taking it. This is called withdrawal illness.
4. He builds up a tolerance to the drug so that he has to have more and more of it to get the effect he wants.
These are the characteristics of drug addiction. One or more of these things occur, depending on what drug the individual is addicted to. For example, he may become emotionally dependent on a drug but will not develop withdrawal illness if he stops taking it. The drug to which he has become addicted determines what will happen.
Some drugs are habit-forming
Drugs that cause addiction should not be confused with habit-forming drugs. Habit-forming drugs are not as strong as addicting drugs and usually are not harmful even if a person takes them for a long period of time, and he can stop taking them if he wants to.
Tobacco, coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola drinks contain drugs that may be habit-forming. But these drinks are not usually addicting. You have no need to increase the dose constantly and you can stop taking them whenever you wish with no withdrawal illness or other serious aftereffects. If you were to continue using one of these preparations until it became injurious to your health and you could not or would not stop taking it, then you would be considered addicted. Even though you were taking only coffee or tea it would be more than a habit if it did you harm and you absolutely couldn't get along without it.
Alcohol taken in moderation may be habit-forming; if used frequently and in large enough quantities to be harmful, it is addicting. Although alcohol is the most commonly used of all the depressant drugs, it is not listed in the table.
None of the drugs listed in the table is dangerous if used as prescribed by physicians or, in the case of patent or nonpatented manufactured medicines, if used as directed by the manufacturer. Neither marijuana nor heroin, however, are used medically at all in the United States.
As far as federal and most state laws are concerned, narcotic drugs include opium, drugs derived from opium, synthetic drugs that act like opium, marijuana, and cocaine. The federal narcotic laws do not apply to the barbiturates or "sleeping pills," the bromides, or the benzedrine-like drugs. The sale of these drugs is regulated only by state laws and incompletely by the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Cocaine, although a stimulant drug, does come under federal narcotic law.
A sedative or depressant drug is one which in moderate quantities relieves pain and anxiety, causes mental and physical relaxation, and usually produces sleep. It has a narcotic or deadening or numbing effect on consciousness, and in larger doses produces stupor, coma, and death. Sedative drugs (except marijuana) when properly used are of real value to the physician in treating his patients. When these drugs are misused they may cause addiction, along with suffering, misery, and sorrow out of all proportion to any temporary relief they may give.
Sometimes sedative drugs may seem to be stimulants because they cause active or excited behavior. Actually, such signs are misleading. The reason such drugs seem to be stimulating is that they depress or lower the mental controls that usually keep such behavior in check. We all want to blow off steam at times but know we must control our behavior if we want to get along with people. Controls are like valves on a steam boiler; they keep the steam inside. But a sedative drug loosens mental controls, and the steam escapes. So marijuana, for instance, may make some people overactive, loud, and uninhibited. However, after the period of stimulation, the marijuana user usually becomes inactive and stuporous.
Opium is a dark brown or black tarry gum which is obtained from the dried milky juice of the unripe seed pod of the opium poppy. It has a faint odor and a bitter taste. The poppies you grow in your flower garden are not those that produce opium. Most of the opium poppies are raised in India, Turkey, Iran and Yugoslavia. Smaller quantities come from China, Burma, Thailand, Mexico, and until recently, North Korea. Opium poppies thrive in a hot climate with little rain where few other profitable crops will survive. Because gathering the juice is tedious and only small quantities are produced per acre, opium poppies are usually grown where labor is plentiful and cheap. The entire crop from a large field, which may bring a handsome income for the farmer, can easily be carried on a man's back.
After the delicate poppy blossoms fade, the laborers scratch the seed pods and a gummy liquid oozes out. It becomes tough and rubbery when exposed to the air. The drops that collect on each pod are then carefully gathered.
Crude opium is sometimes used for addiction by the natives of the areas where it is grown. They may eat it or drink it as tea. Prepared opium is purified from crude opium and is a dark brown sticky mass with a bitter taste and heavy odor. It is sold to addicts in small boxes called "toys."
Opium may be smoked alone in a special pipe, mixed with tobacco, or eaten. It causes dreamy stupor, sleep, or unconsciousness. Very little opium is smoked or eaten today in the United States. Opium contains a number of narcotic chemicals, the most important of which are morphine, heroin, and codeine. These products of opium are in common use.
Opium and the drugs derived from it are addicting in every way that we mentioned earlier. The addict becomes emotionally and physically dependent on these drugs. He gets withdrawal illness when the drug is stopped, and he has to increase the dose constantly. Some preparations of opium are used as medicines and are also sometimes used by addicts.
Morphine is a fine, feathery powder made from opium. It is odorless, has a bitter taste, and is sold as powder, pills, capsules, cubes, or in folded papers. Addicts call the capsules "caps,'' and the flat packets "decks." On the illegal market a "deck" costs from $3.00 to $6.00, a "cap" from $1.00 to $2.00. Addicts and criminal sellers call morphine "M" or some word beginning with M, like "monkey." They may also call it "M. S." for morphine sulfate.
Morphine is a very powerful drug. A small capsule of pure morphine would be fatal to a person not accustomed to using it. Morphine is probably the most valuable drug used by physicians because only a small dose is needed to relieve pain. Larger doses cause sleep and still larger doses produce unconsciousness and death. Morphine should be used only when a strong drug is needed to ease severe pain. It should not be used for minor aches or pains or to produce sleep. Morphine (and other drugs obtained from opium) should never be taken except on the orders of a physician. And no prescription should be refilled unless it has been authorized by the physician.
Morphine sold to addicts illegally by peddlers is usually in small capsules and has probably been mixed with some cheap white powder, such as quinine or milk sugar, that looks much like the morphine itself. The illegal seller dilutes the pure drug with these cheap powders in order to make more profit. The more he dilutes his supply of morphine, the further it goes and the more money he can make on it.
Heroin is a white crystalline powder resembling morphine, from which it is made. The two drugs have almost identical uses. Originally heroin was thought to be non-addicting and was even recommended for the treatment of opium and morphine addiction. As a result of this error many opium and morphine addicts became heroin addicts.
Heroin is just as addicting as morphine, perhaps more so, because it is stronger. Since morphine is as effective as heroin for medical purposes, a law was passed in 1925 making heroin illegal in the United States. All heroin in this country today is smuggled in for illegal sale to addicts.
Heroin is manufactured in other parts of the world - particularly Italy, Turkey, France, and Germany - for sale to countries where it is still legal; some of this is illegally smuggled into the U. S. for sale to addicts.
Heroin is sold by peddlers in the same form as morphine, usually in capsules, and it may be used by addicts in the same way they use morphine. It may also be used by sniffing the powder up the nose where it is then gradually absorbed into the blood stream. Addicts sometimes mix it with cocaine, either for sniffing or injection. Heroin is. referred to by peddlers and addicts as "H" or any word beginning with the letter H, such as "horse."
Other opiate drugs
Dilaudid and metopon are drugs very much like morphine and are used for the same purposes.
Codeine is obtained from opium or prepared from morphine. It appears as white crystals or powder. It is effective in relieving pain but it's only about one-sixth as strong as morphine. Most addicts prefer morphine or heroin for this reason.
Synthetic substitutes for morphine
In recent years several drug substitutes for morphine have been manufactured from chemicals that have no relation to natural morphine. The most common of these are demerol and methadone, which relieve pain much as morphine does. They also are just as addicting as morphine.
You may wonder why chemists are always looking for new ways to make drugs from chemicals. One of the reasons is that when pain-relieving drugs are greatly needed for our wounded in time of war, the shipment of opium from other countries may be stopped.
When a new drug is manufactured as a substitute for morphine, it is tested in the Addiction Research Center of the National Institute of Mental Health at the U. S. Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, to see if it is addicting. If a drug is found to he dangerous, a report is made to the Commissioner of the Bureau of Narcotics, who enforces federal narcotic laws. The President of the United States then issues an executive order which states that the new drug must be sold under the same restrictions as morphine and other drugs obtained from opium.
Barbiturate drugs, also known as "sleeping-pills," "sleeping capsules," or "goof balls," are sedatives that are manufactured from chemicals. There are many of these drugs on the market and new ones continue to appear. Most of them have special names coined by the manufacturers. The names usually end in "al," showing their relationship to barbital, which was the first one of this group to be manufactured.
Barbiturate drugs are usually sold as white powder, in tablets, or in capsules. The capsules are frequently colored, which is why addicts sometimes call them "yellow jackets," "blue angels," or "pink ladies." These drugs are valuable to physicians in treating insomnia, epilepsy, and other nervous and mental conditions.
Some of the barbiturate drugs will very quickly produce unconsciousness when injected directly into the blood stream. Certain types of surgery may even be performed after these drugs have taken effect. One of the drugs, sodium pentothal, when injected into the blood stream by a skilled physician, may put an individual in a semi-conscious state in which he may answer questions more truthfully than when he is awake. When used in this way the drug is referred to as "truth serum," but its effectiveness in causing people to answer questions truthfully is very much exaggerated. In most courts, confessions obtained with truth serum are not considered legal evidence.
Barbiturates are safe when taken in the doses prescribed by physicians, and the patient may stop taking them without becoming ill. If a person takes barbiturates in larger quantities, he may become intoxicated, almost as though he had had too much alcohol.
The use and abuse of these drugs has been growing by leaps and bounds. In 1948 (the last year for which figures are available) 672,000 pounds of barbiturates were manufactured in the United States, enough to give every man, woman, and child 24 doses.
Reports of deaths show that more people in the United States die of barbiturate poisoning than from any other kind of poison. Many deaths caused by sleeping pills and reported as suicides are not deliberate self-destruction but foolish acts of intoxicated persons. The individual intoxicated with a barbiturate drug can easily, in one careless moment, take a handful of sleeping pills that will cause his death.
Sleeping pill addiction is becoming a more serious problem than morphine and heroin addiction, for two reasons: first, because sleeping pills are so dangerous, and second, because in many places it's quite simple to buy them. Also, withdrawal illness after the long use of large amounts of a barbiturate is more severe than from an opiate drug.
Medicines containing bromides are not taken as much as they were at one time. However, patients do sometimes continue getting prescriptions for bromides refilled without the doctor's knowledge until they gradually become poisoned. They finally may become so excited and ill that they must be taken to mental hospitals. People who treat themselves with patent medicines that contain bromides and who disregard the instructions that are printed on the bottle may also slowly poison themselves.
Bromide poisoning builds up gradually in the body. You don't need larger and larger doses, nor do you become ill when you stop taking bromides. But they do cause a mental dependence, or strong desire for the drug. Such cases are treated by abruptly stopping the drug.
Marijuana comes from Indian hemp. The hemp fibers are used in making rope, and the seed is an ingredient in bird feed mixtures. The narcotic part of the hemp plant comes from a resin substance in the flowers and in the leaves. One of the earliest names for the hemp plant preparations that were used for intoxication was "hashish."
Marco Polo in an account of his travels in the thirteenth century tells of a band of assassins who used hashish in their ceremonials. The word "assassin" is supposed to have come from this term "hashish."
Hemp plants were grown in Kentucky as early as 1776. Marijuana was probably first smoked in the United States in New Orleans, where it was imported from Mexico soon after 1900. The hemp plant is really a weed that may grow unnoticed along roadsides and in vacant lots in many parts of this country.
Although most of the marijuana sold here illegally comes from Mexico, much of it is also grown in the southwestern United States. In fact, marijuana can be grown in every state of the union. The problem is to see that no marijuana is grown, imported, or sold here, since it has no medical value and is not now cultivated in the United States for either fiber or seed.
Just as people who get drunk on alcohol act in different ways, people drunk on marijuana behave in various manners. Some are remorseful and quiet, others are happy and gay; some are reckless, others are cautious. Persons under the influence of marijuana are most likely to be irresponsible and silly, laughing at the slightest excuse and doing ridiculous things. One characteristic effect of the drug is that it seems to make the time go by very slowly. Addicts usually smoke marijuana in groups called "tea parties."
People who are normally happy and satisfied and make a fairly good adjustment to life do not get pleasure from marijuana. On the contrary, they frequently find it unpleasant. Whether or not a person receives real satisfaction from any addicting drug is usually a fairly good test of whether he is a normal person or has serious emotional difficulties.
Some "bebop" musicians believe that they are able to play "hotter" while intoxicated with marijuana. Actually, experiments show that musicians under the influence of marijuana don't perform as well, but because they're intoxicated they lose their fears and stage fright and believe they play better. Some "bebop" listeners also believe that they can appreciate the music better when they are intoxicated with marijuana. Actually no one does anything better when intoxicated. You do things less well, although you think you do them better.
Although marijuana in itself does not make people commit crimes or become sexually promiscuous, it does indirectly make them irresponsible and sometimes dangerous by releasing inhibitions. Experiments show that the immediate effect of smoking marijuana in some cases is a temporary mental disturbance. The users lose all sense of reality; they have hallucinations and delusions. And of course they must break the law and associate with criminals in order to get the drug.
A person who smokes marijuana is likely to act on suggestions which in his normal state of mind he would never consider. The greatest danger of using marijuana is that the addict learns to depend upon a drug for pleasure. Later, in an effort to get more pleasure, he turns to a stronger drug, usually heroin. Heroin and marijuana are frequently peddled by the same criminal.
Marijuana cigarettes look homemade and are sometimes wrapped in brown paper or in a combination of brown and white paper. They look quite different from ordinary manufactured cigarettes. Burning marijuana smells very much like burning weeds; once you smell it you're not likely to forget it.
Although marijuana is a dangerous intoxicating drug, it does not result in withdrawal illness when the user stops smoking it. This sometimes leads people to believe that marijuana is not an addicting drug.
Stimulant drugs: cocaine
Stimulant drugs have the opposite effect of sedative drugs. They tend to prevent sleep and to produce excitement in the user.
Cocaine is controlled by the federal narcotic laws and its sale for use by addicts is illegal. It is a white powder, odorless, with a bitter taste. Cocaine is prepared from the leaves of a bush, which is grown mainly in Brazil and Peru and also in other South American countries, as well as in Java.
Cocaine was first used as a local anesthetic, to deaden pain in a certain part of the body without producing unconsciousness. It is still used for that purpose and also for the treatment of diseases of the nose and eye. It relieves local pain when applied directly on the mucous membrane of body cavities or when injected with a needle into the flesh of other parts of the body. Novacaine, or procaine, is a harmless relative of cocaine which is usually used as a local anesthetic. Your dentist may have injected some into your jaw when he pulled your tooth.
Cocaine can be absorbed into the body either by sniffing it up the nose or injecting it into the vein. This drug causes some unstable or poorly adjusted people to feel pleasure and exhilaration. As in the case of the opiates, the normal person does not usually experience pleasure or get a "kick" from taking cocaine. After the first pleasant sensation wears off, the addict feels great fear and frequently believes that imaginary people or police are about to harm him. Without any reason he may viciously attack people around him. This sort of reaction is quite different from that of the opium-type drugs, where the addict feels inactive, lazy, or indifferent. Sometimes cocaine and heroin are mixed and used together.
Cocaine is a dangerous drug and a person may develop such a strong desire for it that he is unable to stop using it. However, the drug does not cause physical dependence or withdrawal illness.
Addicts and peddlers sometimes call cocaine "C" or "snow." It is sold in capsules and folded papers or in cubes for addicts' illegal use. For doctors' use, cocaine comes as powder or tablets. Despite rumors to the contrary, "cola" drinks do not contain cocaine, although an extract made from the coca leaf is used for flavoring.
Benzedrine and similar drugs are stimulating drugs that have the opposite effect of the sedative drugs. Like cocaine, they produce excitement and sleeplessness. Physicians find that benzedrine in small amounts is a useful drug to give patients who need a stimulant. Also, when applied to the mucous membrane of the nose, usually through an inhaler, it reduces the swelling caused by colds and other infections. If benzedrine is taken, in larger amounts, either by tablets or too frequent use of inhalers, it produces nervousness and a jittery feeling. Slang for benzedrine is "benny."
Truck drivers sometimes take benzedrine to keep awake while driving long hours. And occasionally students who feel that they have to stay awake to cram for exams may try it. Actually, this doesn't work too well. Benzedrine, or any other similar drug, may keep you awake longer, but it doesn't help you to concentrate or to study better. So it doesn't really accomplish much except to make you jittery or nervous, which can be quite unpleasant. If one of the benzedrine-like drugs is taken regularly, the nervousness may become more or less permanent and develop into a serious illness.
Because they are stimulants, these drugs increase the rate at which the body utilizes food and at the same time they decrease the appetite. Fat people sometimes use these drugs to reduce, which is very unwise. Any serious attempt to diet should be supervised by a doctor and should be accomplished mainly by eating less. Desyphed and dexedrine are stimulant drugs that are sometimes used in reducing weight.
Inhalers containing benzedrine-like drugs are often used to relieve congestion in the nose during a cold. These are perfectly safe when used as directed. If misused, they may be dangerous to the health. Although benzedrine tablets are sold only on a physician's prescription, addicts sometimes buy inhalers, containing benzedrine-like drugs, from which they extract the drug. Recently the manufacturers of benzedrine have been substituting a drug known as benzedrex in inhalers. Although not as powerful as benzedrine, it is also a stimulating drug and should not be misused. Benzedrine-like drugs do not cause physical dependence or withdrawal illness, but they may cause mental dependence.
Benzedrine and similar drugs have an almost opposite effect to that of the sleep-producing barbiturates. Persons who may take too much of a sedative drug in an effort to find complete relief from their troubles may then take an overdose of a stimulant-type drug to counteract the effects of the first. They alternate between taking too much benzedrine and then too much barbiturates. This sort of activity is extremely dangerous and leads to a chronic mental disturbance which sometimes ends in serious mental illness or death from poisoning.
Chapter III - Why do people become drug addicts?
What causes some people to start using drugs? After all, many of us have the chance to use them. Why don't we all become addicts?
It takes an addicting drug plus a person who wants to take drugs - or has to for medical purposes - to make an addict. These people can be divided roughly into three groups:
1. Normal, or emotionally well-adjusted people: They may use addicting drugs which doctors prescribe for treatment.
2. Neurotic people: They may use drugs to feel better - "more normal," both physically and mentally.
3. Psychopathic people: They take drugs for the "thrill" they hope to get.
How do normal people become addicted?
A few people become addicts because they have had to use narcotic drugs continually during a long illness or for painful injuries. These individuals are "accidental," or "medical" addicts.
A normal person, one who is fairly well satisfied with himself and with life, does not get any real pleasure from a narcotic drug. He may even find it unpleasant or sickening. When normal people take narcotic drugs, they feel relaxed and more at ease, mainly because of relief from pain. But usually they feel nothing more. Only about five per cent of 1,000 adult addicts studied at the Lexington hospital were considered to be normal people who were accidentally addicted. This percentage may not be true for all addicts.
Jack Peters is a good example of a person who became accidentally addicted because of injuries. Jack suffered several broken bones as the result of an automobile crash and had to spend months in a hospital. His injuries were quite painful, and the doctor gave him several doses of morphine every day for several weeks to relieve the pain. The doctor had to increase the size of the dose from time to time so that Jack could get relief. When the injuries finally were healed Jack found that he could not stop taking morphine without becoming sick from withdrawal illness. Jack had become an addict, not because he wanted to, but simply through unusual circumstances. He was very much upset about his addiction and took treatment right away. The cure was successful and Jack has never taken morphine since.
After an accidental addict is treated he is not likely to return to using drugs because he has no special emotional problems that cause him to desire drugs.
Other individuals who have no desire or need for drugs may also become accidental addicts. A large portion of the recent teen-age addicts being treated at the U. S. Public Health Service Hospital at Lexington, Kentucky, are considered to be accidental addicts, which may not be true for juvenile addicts outside the hospital. These are essentially normal boys and girls who became addicted accidentally from associating with a group of young addicts who persuaded them that it was the "smart" thing to do. Here's what some of them say:
- I got curious from being around others who were using it so I started.
- I was getting along all right without any drugs but they said I was "chicken" if I didn't try 'em.
- They had sort of a club in my school and you couldn't belong if you didn't smoke marijuana, and pretty soon we were all using heroin instead of marijuana.
- For a long time heroin only made me sick but I kept using it so I could go with the gang.
These young people were too easily led by others. In their efforts to "keep up with the gang" they experimented with something they didn't really care about and that didn't give them any real satisfaction. They played with fire and got burned!
Sixty-seven per cent of these young patients gave no history of delinquency before they became addicted. But after their addiction they resorted to crime in order to get the drugs they needed and couldn't do without. One girl tells this story:
I had to take bigger shots every day to keep feeling right. Then I was scared of the time that I couldn't get the stuff and I would be sick. When you get scared enough you will do anything! I took things from the house to sell, and I sold my new clothes Mother got me to wear to school in the fall, and I stole things from stores. But I got caught and I'm glad, because I am getting cured and am never going to touch it again.
These young people have not been addicts for long, and because their personalities are basically healthy, they have a good chance for a permanent cure.
Other young addicts, of course, have serious personality problems that make them more susceptible to the use of drugs and they probably will be very difficult to cure.
Who are neurotic people?
A neurotic person is unhappy; he feels insecure, inadequate, and can't seem to find happiness and satisfaction in life, no matter how hard he tries.
As most people grow up they mature emotionally as well as physically. When the emotionally mature adult meets a difficult problem, he tries to solve it. If he can't find a completely satisfactory solution, he makes some sort of a compromise and accepts the fact that problems can't always be solved completely. But a neurotic person can't face his problems squarely. He looks for something else, or someone else, to take the blame. Like a child, he tries to find something to hide behind. He looks for an excuse. Or he looks for something that will make him forget his troubles so that he won't feel guilty for not trying harder to solve them. He tries to escape them in any way he can.
Naturally, different people find different ways of escape. Joe may find his escape in imaginary or exaggerated illness. He feels that the poorer his health the better his excuse is for failure. Many neurotics use a great variety of medicines for the relief of more or less imaginary ailments. One man came to the Lexington hospital with 24 different kinds of remedies and medicines he was taking. His physical complaints completely dominated his life.
Other people use other forms of escape. Alice forgot her problems by daydreaming all the time, imagining herself to be all the things she would like to be but really wasn't. Bob took to drinking to forget his problems. And many other neurotics turn to drugs.
Here are some typical explanations given by neurotic drug addicts:
- After my folks got divorced I just didn't care any more, and heroin made me forget my troubles.
- I was sick and missed a lot of work - drugs made me feel better.
- My girl quit me and I started running with a gang of addicts to get even with her.
- I had a chip on my shoulder after my dad died because he was the only friend I had. I was trying to get even with someone - the world, I guess.
- When my husband left me I worried a lot. Then I started taking drugs. They relaxed me and I didn't care any more, but I'm worse off now than I was before.
The neurotic feels he needs outside help to strengthen his personality, to make him equal to his companions. The use of heroin makes people like this feel superior and self-sufficient:
- Things look good and fine when I use drugs. I feel like a "big shot" and think I have a lot of money.
- Heroin makes me feel like I can do anything I want to. I feel smarter than the other kids.
The neurotic often has trouble getting along with others. He can't hold a job, or at least he thinks he can't. He has financial trouble and difficulties with his wife. He often can't get along with his classmates and teachers, doesn't keep up with his schoolwork, and has troubles at home. He may be convinced he is no good and that no one likes him. He is a failure, or thinks he is, which to him is the same thing.
Neurotic people may try to escape into numb forgetfulness, becoming alcoholics or drug addicts. But this only gives them temporary, artificial relief. Sooner or later they must face reality to find their troubles still there. The largest percentage of drug addicts fall into this group of neurotics.
What about psychopaths?
Psychopathic personalities are emotionally disturbed people who are extremely antisocial. In short, they don't like the world or anyone in it. They seem to be against everything that is good or right or legal. They are completely selfish, with no respect for the rights of others and no regard for the laws of the group. They refuse to conform to the standards of the community. Perhaps their difficulty is "built-in," because they seem to be instinctively against conventional behavior. They elbow their way through life, striking out at people and laughing at the distress they cause. They don't care what methods they use to get what they want.
The psychopath can't seem to learn by experience, even though he's capable of controlling his actions. For instance, if there are police around, or if he is faced with superior strength, he can hold his impulses in check, at least temporarily.
The psychopath never grows up emotionally. His personality development seems to have stopped very early in life. He acts like a child, seeking the pleasures of the moment, without caring about the consequences. He knows when the things he does are illegal or wrong - he just doesn't care.
A person with this type of personality takes a narcotic drug for the pleasure or "thrill" it gives him. He will continue to take the drug as long as he can get it, unless psychiatric treatment is successful.
Robert S., who at the age of 18 was sentenced to prison for selling drugs, was a psychopath. From the time he was 8 until the age of 11 he lived with an unreasonably strict, unmarried aunt. His mother was ill and couldn't take care of him. During this time he was very cruel to younger children and to pets. He was also suspected of starting several fires in the neighborhood. At 14, he quit school in spite of the efforts of his parents and the school authorities to get him to remain. He spent his time with older boys and men who stole tools from construction jobs. At 15, he was sent to reform school where he caused a great deal of trouble. At 16, he ran away and joined a cheap carnival where he helped operate a crooked gambling wheel. At 17, he started using heroin because his friends recommended it for a "thrill," and at 18, he was finally arrested for peddling drugs. His only reason for using heroin was, "I liked it and it's nobody's business if I use drugs."
The neurotics and psychopaths together make up a group of people who are often referred to as addiction-prone, which means that they are likely to become addicts. They all have some emotional difficulty that makes drugs seem attractive, even though, the drugs are only a makeshift solution to their troubles. Even when cured, addiction-prone people have a great desire to go back to drugs, time after time, unless psychiatric treatment is successful in changing their personalities so that they can face their problems. Normal people who take drugs too long may gradually acquire neurotic or psychopathic characteristics, so early treatment is important.
Addiction-prone people may not necessarily become drug addicts. Many of them realize that their problems are too difficult for them to cope with alone, and they look for help. There are many people and many agencies who are able and willing to help disturbed people - pastors, school counselors, community agencies, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, to name only a few. If an individual really wants help, he can get it.
Chapter IV - Is drug addiction harmful to the body?
Fig. 12. Addicts lose their ambition; their only goal in life is to get enough narcotics.
Fig. 13. It isn't easy to recognize addicts, so don't spread gossip that will hurt innocent people.
Drug addiction is definitely harmful to the body. Not much damage is done to the organs of the body by the direct effect of addicting drugs. But these drugs upset the performance of various organs - brain, nerves, stomach, intestines, and muscles.
Drugs decrease the addict's appetite, so that he neglects his food and becomes thin and poorly nourished. The opiate drugs also cause severe constipation. Indirectly the addict's health suffers because he'd rather spend his money on drugs, so he hardly ever goes to a doctor or dentist, except perhaps to try to get drugs. As a result, he usually has poor teeth and poor health. The addict may sleep in the park; he may wear dirty and inadequate clothing. He is usually a miserable sight, and because he doesn't take care of himself, his resistance to disease is very low.
There are other dangers the addict faces. Pain, which the body uses as a warning signal that something is wrong, is deadened by the effect of drugs. So an addict may develop acute appendicitis or some other serious condition, and not being aware of the warning pain, fail to get treatment.
Other indirect dangers threaten drug addicts. They are apt to be burned seriously because they drop off to sleep while smoking. They are also subject to falls and street injuries because they are in a daze from the effects of the drug.
Serious diseases among addicts
Malaria, syphilis, infectious jaundice, and blood poisoning are some of the serious diseases passed from one addict to another when they use the same hypodermic needle. Quite often addicts also develop very serious infected sores from injections of drugs. These sores may be caused either by the impure powder used by the peddler to dilute the drug or by dirty needles. An addict just doesn't care about germs and infections! Arms and legs become scarred and ugly from these infections, and many addicts can't wear bathing suits, or shirts or dresses with short sleeves.
Narcotic drugs gradually cause the addict's memory to become blurred; he has no will power, and he is unable to concentrate, to think and reason. Ambition disappears. The addict's only goal in life is to get enough drugs. He may become the world's worst liar, for honesty also disappears. Whether this mental and moral breakdown is a direct result of drugs on the brain, or whether it occurs indirectly because addicts stop using their minds for normal thinking and behavior, is not important. The result is the same.
Another very serious physical effect of the opiate drugs on the body is the deadening of sexual instincts. This may be one reason addicts so often fail in marriage. In a study made of 1,000 adult addicts, one-third had never been married, and of the remaining number one-half were unhappily married, with most of these marriages ending in separation or divorce.
Sudden death from drugs
Fatal doses of drugs may be accidental or intentional. Accidental deaths occur when addicts unknowingly take an overdose of a drug. This is how it can happen. An addict usually doesn't know how much of the capsule or packet of the drug is "pure." In other words, he doesn't know to what extent it has been diluted with powder. So an addict who is accustomed to taking two "caps" of 5 per cent heroin may get, without knowing it, a new supply that contains 75 per cent pure heroin. He then takes his regular two "caps" with the result of SUDDEN DEATH!
Occasionally an addict will commit suicide by deliberately taking an overdose of drugs. This usually happens when an addict becomes so ashamed and depressed by the troubled and unsatisfactory life he leads that he feels there is no other way out.
Criminal peddlers have been known to give drugs mixed with poison to customers they believe may give information to the police. These poison mixtures are called "hot-shots." Recently three sudden and mysterious deaths of addicts occurred in a large city. A fourth boy addict, who was a friend of those who had died, promised he would never take drugs again after this tragedy. Unfortunately, fear is seldom enough to cure an addict.
Withdrawal illness is the horrible state that drug addicts fear more than anything else, and with good reason. It is a nightmare that causes addicts to beg, borrow, and steal to get enough drugs to avoid this illness. Withdrawal illness occurs when an addict stops taking drugs, and it is a very distressing illness.
If morphine or heroin or any other opiate drug is stopped abruptly by an addict who has been taking it several times daily for a few weeks, he will get withdrawal illness. Nothing much happens during the first eight to sixteen hours. The addict may even fall into a restless sleep for several hours. After about fourteen hours, his eyes and nose begin to run, and excessive yawning and sweating take place. The pupils of the eyes get large and "goose flesh" appears. These symptoms increase until after twenty-four hours have passed. After about thirty-six hours the most severe symptoms set in - cramps in the legs, back, and abdomen, and painful muscle twitching. Along with these symptoms go vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever, and rapid loss of weight. The twitching and jerking of muscles in the legs explains the slang term, "kicking the habit."
Between forty-eight and seventy-two hours after his last dose of drugs, the patient reaches the peak of suffering. During the following five to ten days his suffering is not quite so bad. During withdrawal, addicts may become very ill. Although they feel so miserable they sometimes wish they would die, they seldom do. They are too ill to act violently and usually are able to keep a clear mind. If opiate addicts are not locked up during withdrawal they may do almost anything to get drugs to relieve their suffering. Of course they are too ill to carry out any carefully planned crime.
Barbiturate addicts become very nervous when they stop taking the drug. During withdrawal most of them develop severe convulsions or temporary insanity, or both. Sometimes they die if the illness is not diagnosed and proper treatment started. Withdrawal from the barbiturates must be very gradual over a period of several weeks.
No withdrawal illness occurs after stopping the use of marijuana, bromides, cocaine, or benzedrine-like drugs. But the desire for these drugs may be so great that addicts can stop only with difficulty, if at all.
Can you recognize an addict?
You can't recognize an addict-at least not for sure! Even a doctor can't always be sure unless he can get the patient into a hospital for close observation and laboratory tests. An addict who is getting his usual amount of drug often can't be recognized, because there are no real symptoms. Even his family may not know that he is taking drugs. An addict who has had an overdose, of course, may be unconscious or dead! And the addict who isn't getting enough drugs will be sick from withdrawal illness. So unless a person admits being an addict, you can usually tell only by noticing withdrawal symptoms or by laboratory tests.
Even symptoms that may look like withdrawal can be misleading. For example, running eyes and a running nose may be caused by a cold or hayfever - not from withdrawal. So don't immediately label anyone with these common symptoms an addict! And a person with a syringe and needle may be. a diabetic who gives himself insulin.
Finding a blackened spoon and a makeshift syringe made from an eye dropper, which is a homemade way of injecting drugs, may be suspicious but is not proof. Scars on the arms might be from accidental burns. Even flea bites sometimes look like needle marks. So it's not a good idea to go around suspecting people on flimsy evidence or to spread gossip about Johnny Jones or Joe Smith. Irresponsible accusations may cause real and lasting harm to innocent people.
Chapter V - Other effects of drug addiction
Fig. 14. To get drugs, the addict must deal with criminals who "peddle" them.
The physical damage that drug addiction causes is serious and frightening to think about. But there are other effects of drug addiction, equally harmful, that prevent an addict from leading a normal, happy life.
Addicts are considered criminals
After the first laws were passed to regulate the sale and use of drugs, the underworld took over. Professional criminals began to smuggle in the drugs illegally and to sell them to addicts who could no longer get them legally. Overnight thousands of people who had been using drugs also became criminals.
At that time there were no places where addicts could be treated and cured. Because they were unable to cure themselves, they turned to the criminal population for companionship and also for their drugs. Today the addict does have a chance to get cured. But the person who becomes addicted to drugs still must deal with the criminal peddler and associate with a group of people who live outside the law.
Here is an example of just how a young addict becomes involved in criminal activities. Bud Adams, a high school junior, started smoking marijuana for a thrill. Then the "friends" who had introduced him to marijuana dared him to try heroin. He used this drug until he was "hooked" and couldn't stop taking it of his own free will. Bud found that he had to become a criminal to get the money necessary to keep buying the drug. First he used his school money. Then he turned to stealing. He had to sell the things he stole to a "fence," a criminal receiver of stolen goods. From there on it was easy to continue with shoplifting and housebreaking. Eventually Bud was arrested by the police and found himself in real trouble.
Just to show how serious this can be, a modern "Fagin" was recently arrested in Chicago. He had in his possession 700 pawn tickets for articles stolen by boys and girls so that they could get money to buy drugs from him.
Addicts have a very strong reason to steal; they must have money for drugs to avoid becoming ill from withdrawal. Ten to twenty dollars a day may be necessary to buy the number of "caps" they need. And as you know, the average teen-ager doesn't have that kind of money. He's almost forced to steal if he continues taking drugs. Many girls turn to prostitution as a source of money for drugs. This leads to the ruin of many young lives.
Society does not approve of addiction. Once a person is known to have been an addict, it is sometimes difficult, although not impossible, for him to be accepted and trusted again. The addict has some tough odds to fight against on the road back to health.
Addicts lead useless lives
Drug addicts are among the most unproductive, useless members of society. Most of them are unable to hold jobs for any length of time, and in addition, they waste the resources of others. They bleed their families and their friends penniless. They beg, borrow, steal, cheat, and lie. Then, having run through the money or possessions of their families, they start to squander public money. They are in and out of police courts; in and out of jails and penitentiaries, public hospitals and institutions; and many end in a pauper's grave, without money or friends. They contribute nothing and waste what others have produced.
Narcotic addicts are often called "dope fiends," which shows what a poor opinion most people have of them. The dictionary says a "fiend" is an evil spirit, a devil, a demon. These words do not describe an addict, who is miserable and half sick most of the time. But the continued use of narcotic drugs does cause a deterioration of personal integrity and honesty. Forced to resort to cheating and illegal activity, addicts are notorious for the ease and frequency with which they lie.
Addicts are undependable
Employers soon learn that addicts are undependable as workers. They usually can't stay on a job long, and as their employment record gets worse and worse, they find it increasingly hard to get work. The military services will not accept addicts or ex-addicts. However, some of the recent youthful addicts who are essentially normal but who became addicted accidentally might make good soldiers if they receive early treatment.
A great many people believe, "once an addict, always an addict." Others feel that only people who are criminals become addicts and that they should be kept in prisons and not treated sympathetically as sick people.
The facts are that about three-fourths of the addicts admitted to the federal hospitals for treatment give no history of a criminal record before they became addicts. However, almost without exception, all of these people soon became criminals in order to buy the drugs they needed. Addicts don't make good law-abiding citizens. Literally, they are good for nothing as long as they are addicted.
Reports are unconfirmed which say that Communist soldiers in Korea, or anywhere else, fight with great daring when "hopped up" on narcotics. We have already learned that opiate drugs make people lazy and inactive and anxious to avoid trouble of any kind. If we had no scruples and if it were possible to do so, there would be no better way to win a war than to make addicts of all the enemy soldiers!
The narcotic addict is average in intelligence and in education but way below average in success. Nothing can destroy the reputation of any professional or business person as quickly as the report that he is an addict. And, of course, as we pointed out before, addicts lose the ambition and initiative to achieve success.
The abuse of narcotic drugs is more than a personal problem that involves addicts. It becomes the concern of every one of us, in the family, school, town, state, and nation. Anything that causes members of society harm, that makes them unproductive and parasites on others, weakens society as a whole.
Chapter VI - Treatment for drug addiction
There are two reasons why it is important for the drug addict to get treatment. First, the addict is a sick person and needs treatment just as much as a person who has cancer or tuberculosis. Second, he "infects" others with his habit. He introduces others to drugs, making new addicts and "spreading the disease."
Where can the addict get treatment?
An addict can't be treated in a doctor's office or a clinic, not if he is really addicted, for he has no control over his desire for drugs. No matter how much he wants to keep away from them, at the first sign of withdrawal illness, he will try to get drugs somewhere, somehow.
Treatment must be in an institution where the addict can be kept in and the drug out! At the U. S. Public Health Service Hospital at Lexington, Kentucky, great precautions are taken to keep narcotics from being smuggled in. Two employees do nothing but examine carefully all mail for patients. Small amounts of heroin and morphine have been found between layers of paper where envelopes are glued together. Sometimes a few grains of white powder are found under a stamp. Once heroin was found concealed in a fancy valentine. Patients are not allowed to receive packages because they're too difficult to search. All real needs are supplied by the hospital and small luxuries may be purchased at a canteen. Attendants are always present when patients have visitors.
When patients are admitted to the hospital they are examined carefully. Narcotics have been found in wooden legs, in hollow shoe heels, in toothpaste tubes, and in the fingers of rubber gloves.
Why do patients try to smuggle drugs into hospitals where they go to be cured? The answer is simple! They are so afraid of withdrawal illness that they try anything to ease their suffering during that part of the treatment. Then, too, there are some addicts of long standing who don't want to be cured and are taking treatment because they are forced to. They may try to get narcotics any time while in the hospital, sometimes by bribing employees. Because the Staffs of general hospitals are not trained to keep out smuggled narcotics, it's usually a good idea for addicts to be cared for in hospitals devoted especially to treatment of drug addiction.
Addicts should remain in a hospital for treatment for a fairly long period of time. They can be taken through withdrawal in a matter of days or weeks, but that's only the beginning of the treatment. The real recovery or "cure" takes place when the patient is rehabilitated, when his attitudes are changed. Unless this is done, the cure is not likely to be permanent.
Because addicts have lost the power of self-control, regarding drugs, treatment must usually be in a hospital where they can be forced to stay until they have completely recovered. Prisoners (addicts who have been convicted under the federal law) have to remain, but voluntary patients can leave at any time. At the federal hospitals, voluntary patients are given one chance. If they leave against the doctor's advice, they must go before a court and commit themselves before they can be admitted to the hospital again. However, teen-age voluntary patients, being legally under age, may not leave the hospital against medical advice unless their parents request that they be discharged.
Withdrawal is the first step in treatment
Treatment of withdrawal illness is the first and most uncomfortable part of treatment. At the present time the usual plan for withdrawal is to substitute another drug, methadone, for the drug used by the addict. While methadone is almost as attractive to addicts as morphine or heroin, withdrawal illness is milder following its use. Withdrawal is accomplished by rapidly reducing the patient's dose of narcotics over a period of ten days or two weeks. This gives him as little discomfort as possible.
The patient's emotional behavior during withdrawal may be more difficult to handle than the physical symptoms. Sometimes emotionally unstable addicts become hysterical and put on wild acts called "wing dings" in an effort to get the doctor to give them more drugs during withdrawal. They almost always say they have been taking larger amounts than was actually true to convince the doctor that their "medicine" should not be cut down so rapidly. For these reasons only experienced doctors who won't be misled by such pleas should be in charge of withdrawal treatment.
Withdrawal should not be abrupt! Nor should it be too prolonged. Withdrawal without medical care in jails is cruel and should not be permitted. However, even under the best of circumstances, there is no pleasant way of getting off drugs.
How long do drugs affect a person? Research shows that an addict's body does not get back to normal operation for as long as six months after the last dose. Hospital treatment should be given for at least four and one-half months. Experience shows that patients who remain under treatment for four to six months have the best chance of remaining cured.
Rehabilitation and re-education
The second and most important part of treatment must also be in an institution where the patient can receive the right care. He needs medical and dental care. Physical defects and chronic diseases need to be treated. If a patient continues to have one illness or another, his ill health provides a ready excuse for him to return to addiction. After the painful withdrawal, even the young and healthy addict needs a period of convalescence to regain his former strength and health.
During convalescence, the patient's appetite increases tremendously; sometimes he gains as much as twenty pounds in a few weeks. After about two weeks of rest the patient is ready for a work assignment. This is important, for he must be kept busy during the remaining months of his treatment. His life as an addict was probably very irregular. In the hospital he must once again form regular habits of living without depending on drugs. This is necessary if he is to be able to stay away from drugs after leaving the hospital.
At the Lexington hospital it is usually possible to give the patient work that he knows how to do or would like to learn so that he can get a good job after he leaves. There is a thousand-acre farm which supplies the hospital with fresh milk and vegetables. There is a cabinet shop where fine furniture is made and a garment shop where a patient can learn to be a tailor.
The hospital is really a small city and offers almost every kind of work, with expert supervisors to give instruction. A school department offers many kinds of courses. An athletic director supervises a well-equipped gym, and a music director conducts a band and an orchestra. Musical shows are sometimes put on by patients. In addition, movies are shown regularly on Saturdays and on holidays. There is a library with more than 5,000 books. Chapel services are held each week by Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish chaplains.
Medical, surgical, and dental treatment is given to patients who need it. Patients who need and want treatment by psychiatrists are given special attention. They are helped to understand and overcome the emotional difficulties that may have led them to drug addiction. Sometimes psychiatrists meet with groups of patients who have the same kinds of problems. It is often helpful for patients to hear and compare the stories of others; together, they can try to find the answers to their problems. Individually, they always have the guidance of the psychiatrist, who is experienced in treating the personality problems of drug addicts.
The attitude of the addict toward his addiction plays a most important part in his treatment. All the efforts of the staff are aimed at one thing - to change the addict's attitude. They try to help him understand that drugs do not solve his problems - that they, never really help in the long run, but only harm. The following excerpt from a letter written by an ex-patient shows how important this attitude is:
"I believe it time that a former Lexington patient gives a report on his condition for the past fourteen years. The pity is that some do not know how to help themselves and do not wish to be helped. Since leaving Lexington fourteen years ago I have enjoyed good health, have had only two different employers, have done and am doing the things I so much wanted to do. I am attentive to people and things around me, which is much different than the twelve years I spent groping in the dark as an addict. Believe me, it is a joy to be alive. The sound medical advice and medication I received at Lexington, plus the courteous manner in which I was treated, seemed to bring the better man to the surface. I like to think you folks turned me around, woke me up. At Lexington there was incentive, something to go for, a chance to take a chance, for a healthful and fuller life."
When the addict is released
When the addict has been discharged and arrives back home, who will help him? Since drug addiction is an illness resulting from some personality difficulty or poor adjustment to society, the addict needs all the help he can get from his friends, his family, his school, and the community. He should be kept interested and busy, away from the places and people that led to his addiction. He needs help in making new friends, in finding healthy new interests, and sometimes in getting a different job away from the old atmosphere.
The discharged patient should be encouraged to join in healthy recreation and athletics - music, reading, hobbies, and other activities to keep him from thinking about drugs and from associating with his old addict "friends." The more interest he can develop in new activities and new friends, the better he will be.
In many large cities there are agencies that are interested in helping the person who wants to stay off drugs. The Y's, Scouts, various welfare agencies, and new groups that have sprung up for the purpose of helping the former addict are examples.
One of these new groups is called Addicts, or Narcotics Anonymous, patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. This group was formed in February, 1947, in the Lexington hospital by a small group of drug addicts, who got help from members of the Frankfort, Kentucky, group of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was founded on the belief that the basic cause of alcoholism could also be applied to drug addiction. Addicts Anonymous follows the same program used by Alcoholics Anonymous, helping patients after they are discharged. Within several years after the organization was set up, other groups were formed In New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In some other cities the Alcoholics Anonymous groups welcome and help ex-addicts.
In the hospital, AA is entirely voluntary and is an extra activity not on the regular program.
Can addicts be cured?
Yes! But not always, and not easily.
Barney Ross, the former lightweight and welterweight boxing champion and Marine Corps hero, became addicted while under treatment for war injuries and was successfully treated in the hospital at Lexington. When he returned to the United States after his war service, he found that he had become addicted to the drug he had been given for his injuries. But like many others he thought he could just stop using it whenever he wanted to. Like others, he found this was impossible. Several years later he came as a voluntary patient to the hospital for treatment.
Barney says, "I almost didn't make it! I want to do what I can to warn kids about the dangers of narcotic drugs, but I'm afraid they will think 'Ross was cured - so I can be cured, too, if I get to be an addict!' " His advice is, "Don't take any chances."
Many people can be cured, but some have mental disturbances that are too far advanced to change. Sixty-four per cent of all addicts treated at the federal hospitals have been treated only once. Thirty-six per cent have been treated more than once. It's probable, of course, that some patients treated only once have had relapses.
The accidental addict who has a normal, well-adjusted personality is most likely to remain cured and never use drugs again.
Recently in New York City a man who had been seriously injured in an automobile accident was taken to a hospital. The doctors found in his wallet a card that read: "If I am found injured, or unconscious - Do Not Give Me Any Narcotic Drugs - I am a former addict." This man had been treated several times for addiction, followed by prompt relapses, until the last time when he had joined Addicts Anonymous. Until his death, two years later, he was able to stay off drugs.
This letter about another ex-patient came to the Lexington Hospital:
"I am especially grateful for every kindness and all encouragement given Jim while there. We are more than happy to tell you Jim is a real man! He has overcome entirely his eighteen-year habit. He works for a union painter contractor, makes $18.00 a day, and saves his money. Almost unbelievable! He was never a bum but it took more than he could make to satisfy his craving for narcotics."
How an addict can get treatment
Some private hospitals will accept drug addicts for treatment. However, such hospitals are expensive and only addicts with a lot of money can afford to stay long enough for a real cure. At present, New York and Chicago are planning special hospitals for the treatment of addicts. The United States Government, through the Federal Security Agency, operates U. S. Public Health Service Hospitals at Lexington, Kentucky, and Fort Worth, Texas, for the treatment of persons addicted to the drugs controlled by the federal narcotic laws (opium and its derivatives, marijuana, and cocaine). Barbiturate addicts and alcoholics are not eligible, unless they also use one of the other drugs.
Three kinds of patients are accepted at the U. S. Public Health Service Hospitals:
1. Prisoners-addicts who have been convicted of a violation of a federal narcotic law.
2. Probationers-addicts who have been convicted of federal offenses and their sentences suspended on condition that they accept treatment at a hospital.
3. Voluntary patients-individuals who seek treatment of their own free will.
Records of the voluntary patients are kept secret from everyone - friends, press, and even the police and narcotic officers.
Women and girls can be treated only at the Lexington hospital. Patients are required to stay at least four and one-half months before they are discharged as cured. If they need help when discharged, they are given train fare home and new clothing. There is no distinction made in the treatment between prisoners and voluntary patients or paying and non-paying patients. Patients who are able to do so pay $5.00 a day, which is only a small part of the charge made by private hospitals.
Applications for treatment are made in writing to: Medical Officer in Charge, U. S. Public Health Service Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky, or Fort Worth, Texas.
Chapter VII - Laws and addicting drugs
Fig. 18. International agreements try to limit opium growing and shipping to medical needs only.
Fig. 19. The job of tracing drugs from the user to the importer is a hard one.
Ever since the sale and use of narcotic drugs were made illegal, law enforcement agencies have been doing all they can to prevent addiction. Many laws have been passed to control addicting drugs so that they will be used properly only by physicians and not misused by addicts. These laws fall into four groups:
1. International treaties and agreements - to limit the production and shipment of drugs from one country to another.
2. Laws of the federal government - to limit the drugs imported into the United States to the amount needed for medical use, and to provide prison terms and fines for persons who smuggle such drugs or who buy and sell them for illegal use by addicts.
3. State laws - The Uniform State Narcotic Law, together with the federal law, provides penalties for practically every sort of transaction made in supplying drugs to addicts. While federal laws do not make it illegal to be an addict, some state laws do penalize any person who is an addict.
4. City and local laws - Local laws, particularly in large cities, prohibit any activities connected with buying, selling, or using narcotic drugs.
World meetings on the opium problem
A conference at Shanghai in 1909, suggested by the United States, was one of the first international meetings to consider the control of addicting drugs. It was followed by several other conventions during the next 30 years.
Since the United Nations was formed, three world groups watch over the lawful traffic of drugs and suggest means for controlling illegal traffic. In spite of these precautions, huge quantities of drugs are smuggled into many countries and are sold for vast amounts of money to peddlers who in turn sell them to addicts. International treaties and agreements have tried to see to it that only enough opium is grown and shipped to meet medical needs. Such agreements have had some success in reducing the amount of narcotic drugs produced.
During 1950 and 1951, the U. N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs tried to replace all the old international narcotic treaties with a simpler one that would combine all the agreements. Unfortunately this didn't work out. Recently, attempts were made to set up an agreement whereby all the countries producing opium would sell to one company controlled by the United Nations. This company would then have a world monopoly on opium and would sell it only for medical purposes.
Why haven't these agreements been successful?
There are a couple of reasons. For one thing, several small countries that grow opium get a large part of the money necessary to run their governments from taxing the production and exporting of this product. They don't want to give up this income. Also, the countries that buy opium and the countries that sell it can't agree on price.
Before 1909, there were no restrictions in the United States on the sale of opium, its derivatives, or medicines containing these drugs. From 1909 to 1914, there were some laws restricting the sale of opiate drugs, but many patent medicines containing these drugs could be bought in any drugstore and in many general stores. In 1914 the Harrison Narcotic Act was passed and a system was set up for the legal sale of opiate drugs and cocaine only on the prescription of physicians. Since that time several additional laws have been passed to meet changing conditions.
In 1932 the final draft of a Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act was drawn up. It was recommended that this act be adopted in all the states, and it has been (in some cases with a few changes) in 42 states, the District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. California and Pennsylvania have not adopted the uniform law but have state laws that are considered just as good.
Every year the U. S. Public Health Service estimates the amount of opium needed for medical purposes, and the Bureau of Narcotics then authorizes this amount to be imported. In recent years this has averaged 350.000 pounds of opium a year.
The Bureau of Narcotics has the job of preventing illegal traffic in drugs within the U. S. by enforcing the Harrison Narcotic Act and the Marijuana Act of 1937. The Customs Officers and the Coast Guard, in addition to their other duties, help the bureau to prevent drugs from being smuggled into the country.
Both the Harrison Narcotic Act and the Marijuana Law were enacted to collect taxes from dealers in narcotics. However, their real purpose is to prevent addiction. The money collected in taxes is only a fraction of the money needed to enforce the law.
State and local laws
Enforcing the narcotic laws is very difficult and expensive. In 1950 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics had less than 200 agents who concentrated on the arrest and conviction of drug smugglers and wholesalers. State and local police are left with the chief responsibility for investigating and arresting small peddlers and addicts.
Federal, state, and local police frequently work together to trace drugs from the individual user to the importer before any arrests are made. Officers in plain clothes often pose as addicts and associate with peddlers for months before solving a case. These undercover agents often have very thrilling and sometimes dangerous experiences. After the agents buy drugs with marked money in front of witnesses, they arrest the criminals and send them to jail.
The criminals who arrange for illegal drugs to be smuggled into the country and then distributed are clever, scheming men. Interestingly enough, they are not addicts themselves. An addict is too unreliable to carry on a business that is so difficult and dangerous.
The sale of illegal narcotics is a very profitable business! One kilogram (2.2 pounds) of heroin, which can be purchased for about $1,000 in Italy or Turkey, may be sold for as much as $1,000,000 by the time it has been diluted again and again by various dealers and sold to the addicts. There isn't much overhead expense; the peddler, uses his auto, a pool room, tavern, or corner soda shop to meet his customers. He never takes a chance if he can help it. Usually he takes the money from the buyers and tells them where they can find the drugs.
Some peddlers give narcotics to an addict to sell to other customers for which he receives a free supply for his own use. This is one reason why teen-age addicts, who can't get enough money to keep up their drug supply, sometimes help to make addicts of their friends and classmates. By selling the drugs to others, they get enough for their own needs.
The non-addict peddler is an unscrupulous criminal who capitalizes on the misery of others. His biggest asset is the addicting power of the drugs he sells and the constant fear the addict has of withdrawal illness. Once "hooked," the customer is at the mercy of the peddler.
During 1951 many moves were made to require judges to give longer prison sentences to peddlers who sell drugs to addicts, particularly to juvenile addicts. In some places it was proposed that these peddlers be given the death sentence or life imprisonment.
Most of the laws that propose more severe penalties for opiate drug offenders would also apply to marijuana users. However, they would not affect the barbiturate addicts. Addiction to the barbiturates is just as dangerous as addiction to the opiates or marijuana, and most authorities feel they should come under the same laws.
Chapter VIII - Teenagers and drugs
Fig. 20. Per cent by age group of addict patients under 21 at Lexington and Fort Worth (Federal) Hospitals.
Fig. 21. No one is immune to drug addiction, no matter what his age or status is.