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Newspaper Page Text
THE PERILS OF THE TERRIBLE DRUG HABIT
AND THE STORY OF TWO YOUNG BOYS
BY JANE WHITAKER
The first time it was brought home
to me what a terrible thing the drug
habit is for its victims, how merciless
it is, how moral destroying it is, was
about five years ago in the old Har
rison street police station.
A girl, whose mother said she was
22, but who looked 40, stood like a
senseless animal, grinning out of a
mouth that sagged, her eyes utterly
without a gleam of intelligence, and
she was charged with robbing one
negro of $2 that she might give it to
another negro for cocaine.
The judge looked at her with more
or less disgust. '"You are the lowest
specirrien of womanhood I have ever
seen," he said. "You have dragged
yourself through the mire of the gut
ter. I am going to send you to the
House of Correction for six months."
For a few seconds it seemed that
she didn't understand and then, .so
quickly that it brought some of us to
our feet, startled, she screamed:
"No, nOj for God's sake, don't send
me there! Don't send me there. For
God's sake!" and still shrieking she
was led away to the Hell she feared
because the House of Correction
meant she would not get the drug
and she would suffer tortures.
For months the scene haunted me,
even in my sleep, and. then it faded
away until the .other day.
In the Boys' Court were two mere
boys charged with robbery. One was
20, the other 19. Both were well edu
cated. Both had fine faces.
But their hands trembled pitifully
and the voice of the one who told a
very plausible story, shook.
They were both victims of drugs.
The one who was 19 said he had
fallen off a train and'been hurt. Then
he had been taken to a hospital'where
hypodermics were administered to
him. And to quote his own words:
"When they let me out the bones
were mended and the bruises healed,
but I was worse off, for I had the
habit and it has clung to me. Once
I broke away for three weeks and
went through torture, and then I met
some fellows who offered me cocaine
and I was back again."
And the lad of 20 told how easy
it is to procure drugs in this city.
All he did was to write his own pre
scription, and for a few dollars each
time for a thing worth perhaps a
fifth of those few dollars druggists
asked no questions, but pocketed
money that was blackened with the
corruption of promising manhood.
The boy of 20 tried to suicide the
night before. The excitement of the
arrest broke him down and he was
strapped. The officer said he got the
belt off and put it around his neck
and hung hinlself to the cell. And if '
he had succeeded in that attempt at
suicide the men who sell this thing
that is devilish in its power would
have been murderers.
And yet the pitiful weakness of
these victims. They want to be help
ed. They stretch out their hands like
children begging some one to save
them, but always they shrink from
the actual suffering that denial will
bring to them and try to say that
they can help themselves.
We read of drug fiends and it is
exciting reading; we go to a moving '
picture show and we see the drug
habit portrayed and it is exciting to
look at; we see it enacted on the
stage and it thrills us While we listen,
but when you have once come into
actual contact with a victim of the
drug habit the rest seems but a sorry
sham at portraying the real horror
It destroys the moral sense, It
makes weaklings and liars and cow
ards out of the most promising of
men and women; it shortens the life
and brings a disgraceful death, but
when one is brought into close con-
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