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The New York Times December 5, 1913
United States Second only to China in Abuse of Opium Products, Experts Affirm.
Special to The New York Times.

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 4.-- The United States is now second to China and ahead of every other country in the world in the use of opium and the narcotics derived from it, according to a statement to-day by Dr. B.C. Keister, a specialist of Roanoke, before a meeting of scientists and specialists at the Rittenhouse Hotel. The menace is so great, the speaker said, that there is danger of our "degenerating back to something worse than monkeydom."

Dr. Keister's figures were startling even to his listeners, who are the delegates to the yearly meeting of the Society for the Study of Alcohol and Other Narcotics. The danger of the habit forming drugs was growing so great, he said, that the only logical course was to cut them out of the pharmacopeia entirely and prohibit their manufacture.

The figures which the speaker presented show that 400,000 pounds of opium are imported into the United States each year. This is fifteen times as much as is consumed in Austria, Germany and Italy combined. Seventy five per cent. of this opium is manufactured into morphine. Of this quantity, according to Dr. Keister 80% is used by the public, while only 20 per cent. finds its way into legitimate medical practice. Morphine is being used extensively even in cigarettes.

Americans addicted to cocoaine [sic] habit consume 150,000 ounces of the drug each year.

Twenty-three per cent. of the medical profession, the speaker continued, were now victims of the morphine habit. The medical and criminal records of the country indicated that a complete abolition of the manufacture of the habit-forming drugs, including alcohol, would reduce homicides by fifty per cent., suicides by sixty per cent., and lunacy by thirty-three per cent. The loss to medicine whatever it might be, from the prohibition of morphine, alcohol, opium and cocaine, would be worth while in view of the possible benefits.

Dr. Keister's statements gained added significance through an address that was delivered immediately afterward by Dr. C.J. Douglas of Boston, who described the ravages of the new drug which, he said, was making victims by the hundred in his own city. This is a new product of opium and its discovery has been so recent that no existing State law may be made to apply against it.

This new chemical is called heroin. Its effects are like those of morphine and it is sold so openly in one district of Boston that the vicinity of the drug store which markets it has become known as "heroin square." The victims, who have increased by the hundreds within the last few months, hold regularly what are known as "sniffing parties," when the drug is passed around occasionally as the chief means of entertainment.

The specialists hit hard at social usages which encourage the use of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes among young men and women and dubbed polite society one of the breeding grounds of dissipation and ultimate ruin.

"Young men and women in social life, in collage, in travel," said Dr. T.D. Crothers director of a Hartford hospital, "are actually taught to use alcohol as a luxury and become affected with the idea that it is a harmless and safe beverage. It is only later in life that they find themselves in the thralldom of a diseased impulse that cannot be overcome."

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