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The New York Times, February 17,1919


Rear Admiral Stokes, Retired, Tells
Y. M. C. A. Addicts Will Increase.

The advent of prohibition to going to make the drug addiction problem a much greater and more serious one to handle, in the opinion of Rear Admiral Charles F. Stokes, U. S. N., retired, formerly Surgeon General of the United States navy, who spoke on the subject of "The Possibilities of Reclaiming Drug Addicts," at the West Side Y. M. C. A., 318 West Fifty-seventh Street, yesterday afternoon.

It is estimated, he said, that 1 per cent of the population of the country are drug addicts. In New York State, he said, it has been stated that there are 200,000 drug addicts, one-half of the number in New York City, while there are fully that many alcoholic addicts. Drugs and alcohol are used, he said to boost up one's feelings, to produce the sense of pleasure where there is the pain of inefficiency or emotion or whatever it is that dominates the person. With alcohol taken away from him, the addict will naturally turn to something else to produce the effect that he formerly received in alcoholic stimulants.

The reference to the effect prohibition may have on the drug problem was incidental to the address of Admiral Stokes, whose main theme was that there must be a more uniform treatment of drug addicts and it must include a change in their associates and environment, and that life must be made attractive to them so as to bring out the best in them. Remedial measures, he said, form the smallest part of the task; the big job comes when the person is taken off the drug.

He advocated the "middle-ground for the drug addicts; that instead of sending them back at one bound to a world of which they have known nothing during the years they were using drugs, to have a place for them where they may work at some trade or occupation and then let them gradually get back to the city. Conditions then would not seem so strange and unreal to them.

The drug addict, he said, who, as soon as he is taken off the drug, returns to the city is like the convict, who after serving ten or twenty years in prison, suddenly returns to his former home. He has been out of touch with all that has been going on during this period, and cannot immediately grasp the new order of things as they seem to him.

Admiral Stokes said that the question of drug addicts is recognized not only as a national but as an international problem, and one that must receive more extended consideration before a great while. He also told the audience something of his experience in reclaiming drug addicts at Warwick, N. Y. He said that his knowledge of the drug addicts did not come from experience with them in the navy, for the contamination comes from without the navy and this and similar problems can be controlled aboard ship.