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Two Federal prison farms are to be established where scientific methods of cure and treatment of drug addicts will be studied and tested. Their location will be determined by a commission which will include the Attorney General, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of War. One will probably be situated in the northeast part of the country , the other in one of the Southern Central States, which would draw on that region and the West for its patients. It is estimated that there are 250,000 drug victims in the United States.
Treatment of drug patients in the past has been hampered because the afflicted were allowed to leave hospitals whenever they pleased, whether they were cured of not, and those who were committed to State institutions could leave after their short sentences were served. For this reason many cures have not been permanent. The new narcotic farms will only receive prisoners committed by Federal courts, and they will be kept under super vision as rigid as that of a penitentiary.
DR. W. L. Treadway, who will be in charge of the proposed narcotic division of public health, divides drug addicts into three classes. The first consists of the hopeless delinquents, abnormal persons whose mental age is from 5 to 10 years. Even if relieved of the drug habit, these persons are without proper mental balance, and can never adjust themselves to society. They have no desire or will power to improve themselves. The use of drugs is only one phase of their delinquency. Imprisonment with measures of relief to render them comfortable and harmless is all that can be done for them.
The "genius" type is one that interests the physician and offers one of the best chances for rehabilitation, which must be accomplished with the aid of a psychiatrist. Dr. Treadway asserts that members of this class are constantly seeking thrills, and the use of drugs is one method by which they can temporarily escape "boredom." If the patient has little self discipline, the psychiatrist can be of great assistance. This type is classified as "slightly abnormal."
The third class is the one that can be restored to a normal state more frequently than patients belonging to the other types. These addicts are completely normal, aside from the drug habit, and usually have begun to use narcotics as a relief from pain. After the need for the opiate is over, the patient is found to be helpless.
Dr. Treadway has made a careful study of the causes which lead persons to acquire the drug habit. He attributes 70 percent of the narcotic cases to bad associations, the victim being led into the use of narcotics by other addicts of by example or experiment. About 20 per cent acquire the habit to allay pain. About 5 per cent resort to drugs because of overwork and the search for thrills; the remaining 5 per cent take narcotics from various causes.
The work of the public health service will include three lines of endeavor. First, the effort will be directed toward the "withdrawal symptoms" -- such as sneezing, cramps, collapse, restlessness and delirium. The second consideration will be the building up of will power and desire for improvement and a strengthened muscular and nervous system. The third will be custodial service, including the work of psychiatrists and medical work after the cure seems assured.
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