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Addiction and Opiates

Addiction and Opiates


CHAPTER 10 FEDERAL ANTI-NARCOTICS LEGISLATION 5. Ibid., P. 757. 6. Ibid., Appendix IV, pp. 962-63. 7. Ibid., p. 963. 8. Harry Campbell, "The Pathology and Treatment of Memphis Addiction," British Journal of Inebriety (1922-23), 20: 147. file:///I|/drugtext/local/library/books/adopiates/chapter10.htm[24-8-2010 14:23:32]

CHAPTER 11 THE EFFECTS OF WORLD WAR II file:///I|/drugtext/local/library/books/adopiates/chapter11.htm[24-8-2010 14:23:32] PART II Opiate Addiction as a Social Problem CHAPTER 11 THE EFFECTS OF WORLD WAR II Every major war in which the United States has engaged, beginning with the Civil War, has had considerable effect upon the narcotics problem. World War 11 was not an exception. The Civil War, by popularizing the use of the hypodermic needle in medical practice, and through the none too careful use of opiates for wounded soldiers and for those suffering from such diseases as dysentery, caused an increase in the number of addicts in the United States. The Spanish American War also bad a perceptible effect of the same kind but on a lesser scale. World War I again substantially increased the number of addicts, though by this time opiates were being handled with greater prudence and the number of new addicts created by army medication was probably proportionately less than in earlier conflicts. The recent war has had two major effects. In the first place, by disrupting the channels of illegal distribution, it created a drastic shortage of drugs on the internal illicit market and thus reduced the spread of the habit in the civilian population, In the second place, the use of opiates with the army probably increased - the number of addicts in the armed forces and also added to the number of those who may be called potential addicts. Effects on the Illicit Traffic The war in Europe disrupted American connections with European sources of illegal drugs, but this was made tip for by an increased flow from the Far East. Government supervision of shipping and of foreign travel handicapped the smuggler generally. From the point of view of the local addict, however, the situation became serious only after the beginning of the Pacific war, which cut off supplies from the Orient, particularly from Japan and from territories controlled by Japan. A drastic internal shortage then developed rapidly. Smuggling declined to a record low, illicit prices skyrocketed, and quality deteriorated sharply. Heroin of 1 or 2 per cent purity became common and was sold for as much as from $30 to $5o an ounce. Addicts experienced great difficulty in maintaining their habits and resorted to desperate stratagems and inferior substitutes. A considerable increase in pressure to divert larger quantities of drugs from legitimate to illegitimate channels was noticed. In some cities drugstores began to do a booming business in paregoric, which contains small quantities of opium. This entire picture is clearly portrayed in the annual reports of the Bureau of Narcotics during the war years. The bureau seized the opportunity presented by this situation to tighten its controls, and as a result the illicit traffic was reduced to a record low. The fact that the Axis controlled a number of the major sources of opium caused that drug to become a strategic item for the Allies. There was, of course, a greatly increased demand for opiates because of the war, and supplies were short, not only on the illicit market but generally. The shortage on the illicit market is indicated by the fact that seizures in the internal trade declined 5o per cent, and that addicts and peddlers increasingly resorted to burglary, robbery, and forgery to obtain supplies.(1) The sharp rise in illicit prices and correspondingly increased profits apparently encouraged new producers of opium to enter the field to supply American users. The opium poppy can be cultivated in many parts of the world, and it would have been overoptimistic to suppose that new sources of supply would not have appeared to replace the old. During the war years Iran, India, and Mexico became the chief sources for illicit drugs that appeared on the American market. After the German submarine threat in the Atlantic had been brought under control, smugglers were able to reestablish connections with India and Iran and to step up importations from those countries to make up for supplies previously obtained from European countries and from Japan. Although Mexico prohibits the cultivation of the poppy, an increasing tendency is noted in the annual reports of the Bureau of Narcotics for opium of Mexican origin to find its way to American addicts. The Bureau of Narcotics reported in 1944 that there. was evidence that the acreage devoted to the clandestine cultivation of the poppy in Mexico was being increased. If the war situation had continued it is probable that a new equilibrium of supply and demand would eventually have been established, and that an increased volume of production in the countries named, and possibly in some other Central American countries, would have lowered illicit prices and improved the quality. The Mexican border and Southern and Atlantic ports became the focus

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