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The New York Times June 13, 1919

Country Consumes from Ten to Sixty Times as Much Opium as Other Nations
Treasury Investigators Expect Big Increase After Prohibition Is Enforced

The Treasury Department made public, yesterday, the report of a committee appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury to investigate the traffic in narcotic drugs in this country. In the report, the statement is made that in the United States more opium per capita -- from ten to sixty times as much -- is being consumed than in any other country in the world from which reliable statistics can be obtained. As not all narcotic drugs are habit forming, the committee limited its investigation to traffic in opium and coca leaves, their preparations and habit-forming alkaloids. The census of 1910 is used in all computations.

The committee, which was appointed by ex-Secretary McAdoo in March of last year, is made up of Congressman Henry T. Rainey, chairman; Professor Reid Hunt of Harvard University, Dr. A.G. DuMez, of the United States Public Health Service, and B.C. Keith, ex-Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

The report submits a table on the per capita consumption of opium in this country, Italy, Germany, Portugal, France, Austria, and Holland. This shows in the United States an estimated annual consumption of the drugs named of 470,000 pounds, or 36 grains per capita; Germany, 17,000 pounds, or 2 grains per capita; France, 17,000 pounds, of [sic] 3 grains per capita; Italy, 1,000 pounds, or 1 grain per capita; Portugal, 2,000 pounds, or 2-1/2 grains per capita; Holland, 3,000 pounds, or 3-1/2 grains per capita, and in Austria from 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, or from one-half to three-fifths of a grain per capita.

"As the average dose of opium is one grain, the amount consumed in the United States per annum is sufficient to furnish thirty-six doses for every man, woman and child," says the report.

"The amount of cocaine which can be produced from the coca leaves imported is approximately 150,000 ounces annually. This is sufficient to furnish every man, woman, and child of the country with two and a half doses. It is estimated that only 25 percent of this is used in legitimate medical or dental practice. Therefore, 75 per cent. Or 112,000 ounces of cocaine manufactured in this country, is used for illicit purposes. This does not include the quantity smuggled into the country."

More Than a Million Users.

The number of individuals addicted to the use of narcotic drugs has been variously estimated at from 200,000 to 4,000,000. These estimates, the committee says, must be looked upon as guesses in most cases. It estimates the number of addicts at probably more than 1,000,000.

Of 4,092 manufacturers making patent and proprietary medicines and compounds and druggists' preparations 383 reported the use of opium, 300 the use of morphine or its derivatives, 138 the use of heroin, 142 the use of diacetyl morphine, and 136 the use of cocaine or its derivatives. The quantities used by these manufacturers were: Opium, 118,282 pounds; morphine or derivatives, 316,150 ounces; heroin, 13,039 ounces; diacetyl morphine, 23,859 ounces; cocaine or derivatives, 414,255 ounces.

Answers to questionnaires addressed to druggists, of whom 52 per cent. replied, show 9,511,938 narcotic prescriptions were filled in a year. On the basis of 100 per cent. replies, 18,299,397 such prescriptions were filled.

The report says there is an "underground" traffic in narcotic drugs estimated to equal the legitimate traffic. "This trade," it is added, "is in the hands of so-called 'dope peddlers,' who appear to have a national organization for procuring and disposing of their supplies. For the most part, it is thought they obtain their supplies by [sic] Smuggling also is practiced to a considerable extent on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts."

To make a thorough survey of narcotic drug addiction the committee formulated seven questionnaires. Two were addressed to druggists and physicians registered under the Harrison Narcotic act. Replies from 30 2-3 per cent, of the physicians showed that there were under treatment at that time 73,150 drug addicts. On the basis of 100 per cent. replies the number of addicts under treatment would be 237,655.

Increases in Larger Cities.

One questionnaire was addressed to the Chiefs of Police of 1,263 cities having a population of 5,000 or more. Replies were received from 760, of which 372 reported they had no available data. Police officials in thirty four cities reported an increase in narcotic drug addiction, while 287 cities reported a decrease, The increases were in the large cities and the decreases in smaller cities.

The causes given for drug addiction, in order of their frequency, were use of physicians prescriptions, association with other addicts, prohibition, use of drugs for chronic diseases, curiosity to learn the effect of the drug, use of patent or proprietary medicines, use of drugs as a stimulant, idleness, and use by dentists. The order of frequency in which drugs were used was: morphine, cocaine, heroin, opium, laudanum, paregoric, and codeine. The police reported 1,800 drug peddlers, whose "occupations" were given in this order: gamblers, taxicab drivers, domestics, solicitors, messengers, vagrants, lunch room helpers, pool room employees, porters, laundrymen, &c.

Increase in drug addiction was reported in fourteen cities and counties, and a decrease in 627 cities and counties. "The Health Office of Jacksonville, Fla.." says the report "reported 887 addicts in that city in 1913. This represents 1.31 per cent. of the population. Upon this basis, the number of addicts in the united States in 1918, taking the estimated population as 106,000,000, would be 1,388,000."

The Health Officer of New York City reported 103,000 addicts, equivalent to 1.8 per cent. Of the population. On this basis there would be 1,908,000 addicts in the country. The committee says that neither of these figures furnishes a basis for a fair estimate of the total number for the entire country.

The question, "Has narcotic drug addiction increased or decreased in the last few years?" was addressed to 3,023 Health Officers and 1,253 Chiefs of Police. Out of 962 who answered it forty-eight reported an increase and 914, a decrease. In virtually every instance, the increases were in the largest cities, "and in particular in those cities where more than the usual attention is being directed to the eradication of drug addiction."

Each of these cities, having an aggregate population of approximately 10,000,000, reported an increase: San Francisco, Wilmington, Del.; Macon, Ga.; Louisville, Ky.; Brockton, Mass.; Detroit, Kansas City, Mo.; Elmira, N.Y.; New York City, Utica, N.Y.; Yonkers, N.Y.; Charlotte, N.C.; Muskogee, Okla.; Oklahoma City, Toledo, Ohio; Portland, Ore.; Harrisburg, Penn.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Knoxville, Tenn., and Nashville, Tenn.

Expect Increase Under Prohibition

Concerning the possible effect of prohibition in relation to the use of habit forming drugs, the committee says: "The consensus of opinion appears to be that the number of addicts will increase when the prohibition laws are enforced. These opinions are based, for the most part, on the theory that drinkers will seek a substitute for alcohol, and that opiates and cocaine will be found most satisfactory for this purpose. This opinion apparently receives some support from investigations in some Southern States where prohibition has been in effect. In these States the sales of narcotic drugs and cocaine have greatly increased."

The report says the State Food and Drug Commissioner of a State having stringent regulatory laws has computed that the average annual expenditure of a drug addict is $61.18. Upon this basis, the addicts of the country annually pay more than $61,000,000. The number of unemployed addicts is estimated at 250,000. This would represent a loss in wages of $150,000,000 annually, says the report.

The range of ages of addicts was reported as 12 to 75, and the greater part of the addicts are American born. "It is a rare occurrence," the report says, "to find an addict among immigrants on their arrival in this country, although some become addicted after taking up their abode. This does not apply to the Chinese and certain other nationalities of the Orient."

The committee finds drug addiction about equally prevalent among men and women, and there is no direct relationship between a specific occupation and addiction, although "it appears that a large portion of addicts are not engaged in occupations that call for hard labor."

In its conclusions the committee says : "From the data obtained the committee is convinced that there is a nationwide use of narcotic drugs for other than legitimate medical needs, and that such use has materially increased in certain sections despite efforts exerted in the enforcement of the Federal Anti-Narcotic law, and laws of the States and municipalities. Furthermore, it is apparent that there has been no definite or concerted action by a majority of State and municipal Governments to suppress the illicit traffic and use of habit-forming drugs, and there has been little attempt to obtain accurate information concerning the problem of drug addiction."

Would Stop Heroin Manufacture.

Pending ratification of The Hague opium convention and enactment of legislation to carry out its terms, it is recommended that the Government take up with Canada and Mexico the subject of more effective control of the manufacture and exportation of narcotic drugs. Recommendation is made that educational campaigns be started throughout the country to emphasize the seriousness and extent of drug addiction . The committee believes the medical need of heroin is negligible, compared with the evil effects of its use, and that "consideration should be given the subject of absolutely prohibiting it [sic] manufacture."

Of the 18,299,397 narcotic prescriptions filled last year New York State led with 2,763,292. Pennsylvania was second, with 2,365,608, and Illinois third with 1,670,711. From 1860 to 1869 the national consumption of narcotics was around 110,305 pounds annually; from 1870 to 1879, it was 192,002 pounds; from 1880 to 1889, 328,392 pounds; from 1890 to 1899, 513,070 pounds; from 1900 to 1909, 480,000 pounds, and from 1910 to 1918, 473,043 pounds, since 1910 the annual average has been 470,000 pounds.


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