World Narcotic Defense Association
Extract from an Address by Richmond P.
Hobson, Broadcasted over K M T R
Los Angeles, February 28, 1929
MY Radio Audience: The happy introduction you have just heard so scrupulously accurate in its historical references, reminds me by contrast of the introduction I received not long ago, when the chairman said: "Ladies and Gentlemen: This is Captain Hobson, the officer who blew up the Maine in the harbor of Manila Bay."
I wish to acknowledge with gratitude the cooperation of the radio world in b the splendid observance of Narcotic Education Week, just ending. Those desiring the substance of this address and further literature on this vital question, may communicate with KMTR or write to me direct at our general headquarters, 995 South Western Avenue, Los Angeles.
An adequate defense of society against Narcotic Drug Addiction must embrace processes of education and processes of law, including the isolation and salvage of drug addicts. The International Narcotic Education Association has brought into operation organizations for these processes.
Ten years ago the narcotic drug addiction problem in America was a minor, medical problem. Today it is a major, national problem, constituting the chief factor in crime, menacing the public health, the public morals, the public safety,. Five years ago there was no serious organized effort to meet this problem. Today organizations are functioning vigorously, going concerns well beyond the experimental stage, competent when provided with adequate financial support to meet the problem in America and to aid materially in the solution of the problem throughout the world.
The list week in February set aside as Narcotic Education Week is coming to hold a special position of its own in the thought and life of the American people. Reports from far and wide show that its observance just coming to an end, has been practically universal. The press, as heretofore, has registered one hundred per cent in its cooperation. The radio has been generous the country over. Clubs, fraternal orders, civic organizations of all kinds have featured Narcotic Education in their weeklv meetings in every section. Governors of states, mayors of cities, other officials and leading citizens have given out appropriate proclamations and statements.
The observance of Narcotic Education Week this year has been of especial importance because we have a Uniform Narcotic Defense Act before the legislatures of the states and territories, and we are pushing a program to bring about the limitation of the manufacture of narcotic drugs to the amount required for medicinal purposes.
Few of our citizens are aware that drug addicts are the cause of our crime wave with its daring hold-ups, cruel and unnatural murders, and the chief factors in the disappearance of girls who fall to the underworld in ever increasing numbers, now estimated at 75,000 per year.
The revelations in the Rothstein murder case in New York City have thrown light on the vast operations of the secret, international narcotic drug ring. These operations are based on the enormous over-manufacture of habit forming narcotic drugs by the nations of Europe, who, nevertheless, are under solemn treaty obligations under the Convention of The Hague of 1912 and the Convention of Geneva of 1925, to limit manufacture to the quantity necessary for medicinal purposes. The quanity required for medicinal purposes as determined bv the Advisory Council of the League of Nations is 336 tons, but a small fraction of the amount being manufactured, estimated at 8,600 tons. Nothing could be more effective than the swift development of public opinion in this country and in other countries to bring, about the observance of these obligations, which would eliminate in a large measure, the supply for the smuggling activities, so injurious to America and other nations.
Mayor James J. Walker of New York City recently said: "Dope is the most damnable curse of modern humanity! The most devastating scourge the New York police have to face at the present time. Only the other day a youth of eighteen held up a petty grocer, stole eight dollars from him, then shot him dead and strode over his inanimate body to freedom without so much as a shudder of horror at what he bad done. Do you think that youth was an inhuman monster, utterly devoid of feeling? Of course not. Normally, he might have been a fine youn man, needing, of course, the teachings of decent family training and uplifting evironment. The drug-crazed boy is New York's biggest crime problem today."
Narcotics are soluble in fat, so they penetrate the fatty sheathing that protects the brain from most harmful substances in the blood current, and in this way the poison comes quickly in contact with the delicate highly organized gray matter. Similirly these polsons attack the delicate, carefully protected organs of reproduction, impairing the sexuil power of the male, causing the female addict to become sterile, and undermining the germ plasm, by virttie of which the species renews its life from generation to generation.
In the case of cocaine and heroin the degenerition of the upper brain is so swift that the elements of character crumble in a few months. Complete demoralization follows, and often the life of crime joins with physical ills and the spur of torture of the drug, to hasten the end.
When the drug begins to subside, a condition of torture sets in. Pains often succeed each other as though a sword were being thrust through the body. In advanced cases this suffering (called "withdrawal pains") is considered the most acute torture ever etidured by man. The drug of addiction will quickly relieve this torture. Naturally, the addict comes to consider getting his supply of the drug as a matter life and death.
The mental suffering and anguish endured are commensurate with the physical sufferings. The fear of not being able to get the drug supply is perpetual, and the thought of the torture of "withdrawal symptoms" brings thiect submission to a pitiless master. The sympathies of mankind have always been aroused for the sufferings of slaves in the days of the slave trade. Their bondage was easy and light compared to the ôLIVING DEATH" of drug addicts. It would be hard for any normal person to appreciate the anguish of mind and of soul that comes to an tddict as he gradually realizes his helplessness and sees his own elements of character, his own morals, his own principles disintegrate, and beholds the sufferings of his family and friends and the scorn and hate of Society as it pursues him. Drug addicts endure more suffering and anguish, physical and mental, than any other group of sufferers.
We have only to bear in mind that the drug ad diets of the Orient are numbered in tens of millions and the drug addicts of the Occident in hundreds of thousands. The suffering of the average addict, multiplied by the number of addicts, makes t prodnet incredibly huge.
The sufferings of society are difficult to overestimate. A citizen asset, asset, becoming an addict, is turned into the worst form of liability. The economic wastage is heavy, the producer becoming not only a dependent, but a destructive parasite. It is estimated that CRIME NOW PLACES A BURDEN EXCEEDING TEN BILLIONS OF DOLLARS YEARLY UPON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Drug addicts constitute overwhelmingly the biggest group of convicts in Federal penitentiaries. It would be conservative to estimate at one-third of the total burden of crime the part that comes from DRUG ADDICTION. THE PUBLIC HEALTH is equally menaced, the drug addict being the principal incubator and carrier of vice diseases as well as the other diseases that menace the public health. PUBLIC MORALS suffer from the prevalence of drug addicts even more heavily than the health and the public safety. Before drug addiction, all the moral and spiritual attributes of men upon which the institutions of civilized society are built, utterly disintegrate. A sufficient spread of drug addiction must insure the disintegration and destruction of any civilization.
Adding up the sufferings of the armies of the addicts themselves, "THE LIVING DEAD," the sufferings of the families making up vastly larger armies, and the sufferings of society with all the in situations of our complex civilization, it is manifest that NARCOTIC DRUG ADDICTION NOW INFLICTS UPON MANKIND ITS GREATEST MEASURE OF SUFFERING.
While many methods have been found for getting the victim off the drug, the scientific world and the medical profession recognize no sure and permanent cure. Only a small percentage of morphine and opium addicts remain permanently off the drug, while the number of heroin addicts is practically negligible. So helpless is the victim and so pitiless the master, that the heroin addicts are termed the "LIVING DEAD."
The transformation in character is swift, especially in the young and swifter with cocaine and heroin than with the other narcotics. In an incredibly short time a youth of either sex "hooked" with the "now gang," loses the result of good heredity and of careful home training. Self-respect, honor, obedience, ambition, truthfulness, melt away. Virtue and morality disintegrate. The question of securing the drug supply becomes absolutely dominant. To get this supply the addict will not only advocate public policies against the public welfare, but will lie, steal, rob and if necessary, commit murder. Thus we can understand how intimately addiction is connected causatively with crime.
In addition to the general anti social traits of all addicts, the heroin addict has two special characteristics : First, for a period after taking the drug he experiences an "exaltation of the ego," looks upon himself as a hero. Bent upon getting money to buy his drug, he will dare anything, thinks he can accomplish anything,-hence, the daylight hold-tips, robberies, murders committed by these young criminal heroin addicts.
The heroin addict has a mania to bring everybody else into addiction. All addicts have a desire for company and wish others to share with them the problem of securing the drug supply, but in case of the heroin addict it is an absolute mania for recruiting. He thinks, he dreams, he plots to bring all whom he contacts into addiction. All addictions tends to spread. Heroin addiction can be likened to a contagion. Suppose it were announced that there were more than a million lepers among our people, each one seething to infect others. Think what a shock the announcement would produce! Yet drug addiction is far more incurable than leprosy, far more tragic to its victims, and is spreading like a moral and physical scourge.
More than half of all prisoners in moral turpitude cases in the prisons of New York City now are addicts, over 90 per cent of these being young heroin addicts, although heroin addiction has been in exploitation only a few years. The number of prisoners in federal penitentiaries convicted for offenses against Narcotic laws is three times that of those convicted under any other law. Offenses against Federal Naroctic(sic) Laws have increased 800 per cent since 1917. The human race is thus in the midst of a new environment of peril for which it is not prepared. Effective education against this menace is a biological necessity if the race is to live and flourish upon the earth.
The International Narcotic Education Association and its affiliated organizations have made a survey of all text books used in the United States from the standpoint of narcotic instruction and have organized standard material for incorporation in future text-books. They have prepared a Uniform State law and laid it before the legislatures of all the states and are working upon a plan for uniform municipal ordinances and sanitary codes to harmonize with the uniform State Law, and are also working upon plans for strengthening the Federal laws to make narcotic offenses a felony instead of a misdemeanor, and providing for the deportation of aliens who are addicts or guilty of violating the narcotic laws, and to build up a powerful and effective resistance to the smuggling operations of the international dope ring.
The whole human race, though largely ignorant on the subject, is now in the midst of a life and death struggle with the deadliest foe that his ever menaced its future. Upon the issue hangs the perpetuation of civilization, the destiny of the world and the future of the human race.
Each generation his had its supreme task. Our generation must meet and overcome the menace of narcotic drug addiction. Narcotic Education Week in 1929 will be memorable. Coming at a critical moment when society is being stirred to its depths at the suddent(sic) sight of its great peril, the public sentiment created and focused this week will be felt in state legislatures and city councils all over our country, will be felt in halls of Congress, in the State Department and White House and beyond the seas where it will shake the stronghold from winch the international drug ring is sucking the life blood of mankind.
Narcotic Education (Bulletin of the World Conference on Narcotic Education and the International Narcotic Education Association) - Jan, 1929 pp. 67-69
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