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the truth about Drug Addiction
...^ United States Treasury Department
Bureau of Narcotics Washington, D. C.
This booklet contains the essential
facts about drug addiction. We feel
that thinking people, knowing the
facts, will avoid this living death.
H. J. ANSLINGER
U. S. Commissioner of Narcotics
U. S. Representative, United Nations
Commission on Narcotic Drugs
the truth about Drug Addiction
All men and women will benefit if they learn how to protect
themselves and their friends from one of the worst dangers of all
The best protection is to know the plain truth about what it
does to the human body.
Here are the facts, gathered from medical experts.
What is a Drug Addict?
A drug addict is a person who continues to use an addiction-
producing drug, such as morphine or heroin (which is derived
from morphine). There are many other addiction-producing
drugs. Do not let yourself be persuaded to try any drug without
medical need and advice. The taking of one of these drugs
frequently for only a short time can result in addiction.
Teen-age drug addiction in its inception and in its continuance
is generally due to vice, vicious environment, and criminal asso-
ciations, but it cannot be too strongly emphasized that the smok-
ing of the marihuana cigarette is a dangerous first step on the
road which usually leads to enslavement by heroin.
Physical Effects of Drug Addiction
In the early stages of addiction the addict's breathing and
pulse rate are slowed down, blood pressure is reduced, and body
temperature is lowered. His eyes become reddened, his pupils
pinpointed, and his eyelids droop. He may suddenly become
very active physically and then become drowsy and inactive and
may drift into light sleep, suddenly awaken, and then drift back
to sleep and have fantastic dreams--which may be most un-
pleasant. He may also suffer from dizziness.
As addiction continues the pupils remain constricted, and the
addict is always constipated. He gets such an abnormal desire
for the drug that he feels he cannot get along without it.
When he cannot get the drug he becomes very uneasy after
a little time. Later he becomes restless and irritable. His eyes
water as though he had hay fever, he yawns, and mucus runs
from his nose. Still later his muscles start to twitch violently
and his back, arms, and legs ache severely. He has violent pains
in his stomach, vomits, has diarrhea, kicks his legs and jerks his
arms. He curls up in bed or on the floor and puts on as many
blankets as he can find, even in the hottest weather. His feet
twitch continuously. If he sleeps at all he is extremely restless.
Finally sleep becomes impossible. Because he cannot retain food
or liquid in his stomach he loses weight rapidly-as much as 10
pounds within 24 hours. About the third day without the drug
he is in the very depths of torment. He is unkempt, disheveled,
dirty, neglecting all thought of personal hygiene and decency.
He is utterly wretched.
Even after he begins to recover from these violent reactions
to the drug, he still is unable to sleep, and suffers from extreme
weakness and nervousness and has muscle aches and pains for
This is not a pretty picture, but it is something every person
needs to know for his own safety and for that of friends he may
help by pointing out the truth.
Perhaps some persons who become narcotic"' addicts are none
too bright before they start. But the drug habit can fasten its
terrible hold, just as easily, on the "smart" individual who thinks
he knows it all and will not heed sound medical advice.
The more anyone gets sunk into addiction, the more the weak
traits he started with are exaggerated and his good traits dis-
appear. Any strength of character the addict may have had
originally is greatly weakened.
A young person who gets into addiction is sleepy most of the
time. He becomes poor in his studies and has no interest in
athletics. He is irritable, tells stupid lies, or refuses to talk at all
because he is completely preoccupied with himself.
Continuing to take addiction-producing drugs usually results
in a career of crime because the addict is too sleepy and unreliable
to hold a good job, although he needs an enormous amount of
money to keep himself supplied with the increasing quantities of
the drug he craves.
The sparkle of a pleasing personality is lost, for he lacks in-
terest in everyone around him and is careless about his person.
His interest narrows down to concern about only one thing-
getting another dose of the drug. He ceases to be a real human
being or a regular fellow.
Marked decrease in sexual activity occurs during addiction to
narcotic drugs. Babies born to women addicts may be addicted
Repeated needle punctures cause discolored scars and tattoo
marks on the skin. Boils and abscesses often result from the use
of unsterile equipment to inject the drugs.
Drug addicts are likely to die young because they suffer from
severe malnutrition and general neglect of personal hygiene
which almost invariably accompany drug addiction.
How Not to Start
The only way to avoid ending up as a drug addict is to use
plain common sense and not to start. You do not learn to keep
away from addiction by experimenting with it. If you do experi-
ment, it will surely get a stranglehold on you.
Ordinarily, a person is tempted first with marihuana ciga-
rettes. He may not even know they are dope. Then, someone
usually already addicted makes it easy to try some heroin. An-
other person enslaved is an added guarantee of a continued supply
for himself. Most teen-age addicts started by smoking marihuana
cigarettes. Never let anyone persuade you to smoke even one
marihuana cigarette. It is pure poison.
Some young persons who are being trapped are "dared" to try
the "stuff." Some think that they are exceptions and can handle
anything. But they are wrong. They can't "fool" with nar-
cotics. Nobody can.
When a person realizes that anyone is trying to snare him, he
should realize that he is having a terrifying look, face to face, at
what probably is the foulest racket in existence. It must be
squelched through the vigilance of everyone, the full power of
the law, and the aid of every enlightened man and woman.
Avoid a drug addict the same as you would a "Typhoid
Mary"* because his plague is just as contagious.
What we have been talking about is the criminal misuse of
addiction-producing drugs. Incidentally, it is as much against
the law to buy illegal drugs as.it is to sell them. Drug violations
by teen-agers particularly are soon detected, and are subject to
severe punishment under Federal law: 2 years of imprisonment
for the first offense; 5 years for the second; and 10 years for the
third. Laws to increase these penalties are expected to be passed
in the near future. In many places, addiction itself is an offense
for which the addict must undergo compulsory imprisonment in
an institution until cured.
Narcotics have many valuable uses in the field of medicine.
Such legal uses are carefully controlled and should only originate
through your doctor. The United States Treasury Department's
*A typhoid carrier.
Bureau of Narcotics, physicians, and pharmacists all cooperate to
make these controls effective and to protect you. Will you protect
The cost, both to the individual and to the community, of pre-
venting drug addiction is only a small fraction of the staggering
annual cost of treatment and untold physical and moral ruin that
are always the consequences of this degrading condition.
There are many angles to dope addiction and every one of
them is bad. But nothing is worse than what addiction does to
the human body and mind. Everyone should help to wipe out
this curse of mankind.
Don't flirt with a living death!
U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1956 0- 370807
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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