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December 4, 1948

PRESENT STATUS OF NARCOTIC ADDICTION: With Particular Reference to Medical Indications and Comparative Addiction Liability of the Newer and Older Analgesic Drugs

Author Affiliations

Lexington, Ky.

From the United States Public Health Service Hospital, Lexington, Ky.

JAMA. 1948;138(14):1019-1026. doi:10.1001/jama.1948.02900140011003

When the Harrison Narcotic Act was passed in 1914 there were perhaps 150,000 to 200,000 narcotic addicts, mostly women, in the United States.1 Now, according to a recent estimate by Mr. H. J. Anslinger, Commissioner of Narcotics,2 there is about 1 addict per 3,000 of population, or a total of approximately 48,000, mostly men. This reduction in addiction has been largely due to the vigorous enforcement of the Harrison Narcotic Act and to federal facilities for the treatment of addicts. Compared with the problems arising from the abuse of drugs such as the barbiturates and alcohol, narcotic addiction is not a great public health hazard. However, to the person and his family, narcotic addiction is a tragedy which often brings about complete ruin. Without the preventive influence of legal control and the treatment of identified addicts, narcotic addiction would spread somewhat like the infectious diseases which are public