The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


The Drug and Dope Addiction Situation in Southern Oregon
    The Mail Tribune is glad to print an article on the drug evil in this section by Dr. A. A. Soule of Klamath Falls, a physician of high standing in that city who was acquitted on the charge of violating the Harrison Narcotic Act at the recent session of the federal court in this city. This is the first installment and will be followed by another. We believe that the more the problem is discussed and all phases considered, the better for everyone concerned.
Pharisee or Samaritan
By Dr A. A. Soule.

    Pharisee or Samaritan is a question that arises in our minds when we think of the Harrison narcotic law. This law, or act, was passed by Congress in pursuance to an agreement made at The Hague conference of nations in 1912. It became a law March, 1915, in the guise of a tax measure but with a moral end in view. Medical men helped in framing it, and its purpose was to direct the administration, prescribing and dispensing of narcotic drugs to and through legitimate channels.
    My review of this act is to point out a few of the inconsistencies and inadequacies of the act itself and to mention the failure of it to stop drug addiction disease from increasing and call attention to the fact that administrators and interpreters of the law, having no medical knowledge, disregard pathology of disease and prosecute medical men, gaining nothing by so doing.
    The act intended to stop the underworld traffic in opium and cocaine, but the result of the law as amended, and with the rules and regulations, the advisory pamphlets and letters which are supposed to be advisory only, yet are upheld by the courts as law, have made the whole situation so complicated, that, as Prosecuting Attorney Marsh said, "Lawyers themselves cannot understand it." Legitimate channels are being closed, and diseased individuals are driven to the underworld.
    In reality it practically regulates the practice of medicine. The last decision of the U.S. Supreme Court questioned to a slight extent the constitutionality of the act, as Congress had no intention to interfere with practice of medicine within the states.
    Different nations hold different views. In Germany, dealers, importers, etc. are regulated, but as in Canada, compulsory treatment of addicts is the law. In this country, after certain limitations are set out, the doctor is told to treat an addict. If acting in good faith and in his best judgment, such should be done. Administrators of the law tell physicians that they can give no directions or authority or permits to handle a case. The responsibility is up to the doctor. Where is the necessary authority to meet this stated responsibility? Unified action of medical men must see that if responsibilities are thus placed upon us, then as a square deal the needed authority should follow.
    The government makes no attempt in this Harrison act to care for or treat opiate addiction disease. These addicts are allowed to be in society, and the physician is told to treat them, but some addicts who are able to care for themselves, take care of their affairs, and in fact are not known by anyone as being addicts until later they became diseased individuals.
    The Harrison Narcotic Act deals with registration, stamps, dealers, dentist, veterinary surgeons and other matters, but I am only touching on the way in which it affects physicians. Doctors may use opium and its derivatives and coca leaves in their regular practice. In the course of their professional work where they are personally attending a case they may administer, prescribe, or dispense and no record need be kept. An addict cannot be treated, however, without a record, and then only if he is aged (no age stated) and infirm.
    Or an addict may he treated if he has an incurable disease as cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases well recognized as coming under that head. Thirdly, an addict may be treated for any concomitant disease that he may have or in an emergency, if the addict is in a state of exhaustion or collapse is threatened. Fourthly, a physician may treat an addict for opiate addiction disease, if he confines the patient. Lastly a physician may dispense to an addict if he is satisfied that he is going to a hospital, sanitarium or place to be restrained.
    The law, if it is going to permit physicians to treat addicts at all, should (1) Provide for satisfying narcotic addiction disease incident to incurable disease, (2) Make provision for increasing the dosage in incurable disease as the patient's tolerance for the drug increases, (3) Provision for treatment of curable or incurable disease complicated with narcotism or the treatment of narcotic disease complicated with curable or incurable diseases.
(To be continued)
Medford Mail Tribune, October 14, 1929, page 7

The Drug and Dope Addiction Situation in Southern Oregon
Pharisee or Samaritan?
To the Editor:
    The above question forces itself upon us when we are reviewing the Harrison narcotic law. The word disease tells volumes in regard to this curse or plague--narcotic addiction. An addict is a diseased man. He is sick. One outstanding thing is that an addict wants his medication, not to soothe him into languorous, dreamy sleep, but to stop suffering.
    A newborn babe from an addiction-diseased mother also has the disease. Surely habit or desire or appetite could not enter into this unborn babe. Any warm-blooded animal, if given opiates, say a large dose for three or four weeks, acquires the same malady. Has this animal (dog, cow or whatnot) an appetite, a habit, an unbroken will and a desire not to quit a habit, or is it a disease?
    The symptoms in all cases, man or animal, or any class or race of man, or an individual of the race--a weakling, or a giant of moral and physical stamina; are the same, constant, characteristic phenomena. The addicted judge, the addicted clergyman, or the man of business or the youth and dissipator, alike succumb to this so-called habit, this disease more formidable in many aspects than any in the category of human illnesses.
    An addict is a victim of a disease, an honest sufferer of a death-in-life malady. He finds himself where the opiate is as necessary to him as the food he eats or the air he breathes. The drug then becomes to him a therapeutic necessity and the doctor alone has the monopoly of his cure.
    What has happened? Let us see. If we take diphtheria germs into our bodies, they at once manufacture a poison or toxin. Our bodies meet this toxin with an antitoxin, but not quick enough, as a rule, so we inject antitoxin for curative measures. The theory in addiction disease is that the opiate or toxin is injected into the body, induces the body to manufacture antitoxin or antibodies. Finally the body gets surcharged with antitoxin and requires the toxin or opiate poison to be be injected to neutralize the antitoxin.
    The symptoms are at first a vague uneasiness and restlessness, mental anguish and torment, nervousness and twitching, patient talkative or morose; jerky movements, dryness of skin, then sweating and mucous secretions: itching of nose, sneezing, numbness, darting pains, anxious and worried expression; cramps of muscles and in abdomen; vomiting, purging, excruciating bodily pains, weakness,
difficult breathing, rapid, weak heart, exhaustion, collapse, death.
    There are many addicts who were defective before they became addicted. Probably 75 percent of addicts are unworthy of any sympathy, but on the other hand, perhaps 25 percent are deserving and honest people who should have the consideration of their trials, sufferings, and struggles. Only about two percent acquire the addiction disease from medication from doctors.
    A deserving addict probably has a family, a business, and is trying his best to keep up. After many years of worry, poor appetite, suffering, he becomes pale, undernourished, stooped, prematurely aged, infirm, untruthful, persistent, husky voice, unreliable, sexually weak--a wretched victim of a self-poisoning disease.
    From the symptoms stated one can readily see that an addict takes his drug--not for pleasant dreams, for vice, a wonderful journey, for new and beautiful world, enhanced power--but to relieve the symptoms and have an approach to normal. One of the legitimate uses of opium is the proper use of it for relief and cure of addiction disease.
    Other uses of opium, which is one of the most important medicines in materia medica, is to relieve pain, stop spasms, cure coughs, diarrhea, to sustain the heart, to give sleep.
(To be continued.)
    Klamath Falls, October 15.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 15, 1929, page B6

The Drug and Dope Addiction Situation in Southern Oregon
No. 3--"Pharisee or Samaritan"
    This is the third and last section of a review of the Harrison narcotic law, entitled "Pharisee or Samaritan." We first sketched over the Harrison Narcotic Act, then gave a picture of addiction disease. Now we hope to suggest some better ways of handling the problem. As to what we do will show whether we are Pharisee or a Good Samaritan.
    A few years back in the history of man, yes, even in the history of our country, people who suffered from one of the many mental diseases was thought to be possessed of the devil or to be bewitched. These people were in the way, and were thought to bewitch or have an evil influence on others, so they were persecuted, hung or burned at the stake. Thus man's inhumanity to man has made countless millions mourn.
    There have in the past been thumbscrews and torture racks, mutilations of the body and horrible devices for punishments. None of them singly or combined can equal the torture and misery of opium deprivation in the case of an addict. He suffers the mental torments and physical tortures of a Dante's Inferno. Happier it would be for him if he were burned at the stake than to have liquid fire in his veins calling for relief that only the drug can give.
    Would you think a doctor a hero who refused to relieve such suffering? No. You would say he was inhuman and barbarous if he did not extend the helping hand of human kindness and be his brother's keeper. What physician would not relieve a human from this physical hell of torment until such time as proper treatment could competently and successfully withdraw the drug, cure the man and then rehabilitate him?
    What are the purposes of life? Nature says to perpetuate the species. Such is true, so let's make it a better world for our posterity, as our forefathers have striven to do for us. The purposes of life are to live, to labor, to love, to achieve, to be humane and altruistic; be tolerant, obey the law, human and divine, respect woman and reverence Deity. Or, as expressed in the sweet singing words of the poet, "Live for those who love you, for those who know you're true. For the Heaven that smiles above you, and the good that you can do."
    Sufferers of mental diseases today are put in state hospitals. They are taken off the streets and out of society and are cared for. We are on trial for the way we care for the addict as much as the addict is on trial for his behavior. The question is not what we shall do to the addict, but what shall we do FOR him.
    Under the Harrison narcotic revenue act nothing is done toward the care and treatment of the addict, yet the administrators of this act are asking for more teeth to be put into the act--I presume to persecute more thoroughly these unfortunate sufferers. The medical profession has been branded as dope peddlers, many of whom are addicts themselves. Many well-meaning people want to poison our school children by painting before them in our textbooks the dope evil. It is also a question whether or not the government should go so far as to make further treatment of these sufferers impossible.
    If a physician meets his medical obligation he must care for these victims within the law. If he refuses he throws a burden on other members of the profession and shirks his own duty. A piker in the medical field denies his medical obligation, overburdens others and helps drive the sufferer to the underworld.
    Some suggest that all addicts, high and low, be reported like smallpox, their pictures taken and a label placed on them: "addicts." This would be persecution and would not correct the evil. It would not cure them but add more to their mental suffering. It would make hell a happy place for them, and death would be received with pleasure. Death has no fear except for the young and the healthy.
    There is a way out--one that treats the addict humanely--cure him and rehabilitate him. It would with one blow stop every peddler, for there would be no market. The way out is for the government to establish addict homes and farms, and, with proper selection, put all addicts there. The state also might well consider this move. Have a state addict home and farm and take the addicts there. That would relieve doctors of much trouble. The farm could be made self-supporting.
    An addict farm--federal or state--would be a measure of man's humanity to man. He who helps put a movement on foot and those who could put it over would be Good Samaritans. Those of us who stand by are Pharisees. We pass by and leave the deserving addict to suffer and to die.
    There are men and classes of men that stand above the common herd; the soldier, the sailor and the shepherd not infrequently; the artist rarely; rarer still, the clergyman. The physician almost as a rule. He is the flower, such as it is, of our civilization, and when that stage of man is done with and only to be marveled at in history, he will be thought to have shared as little as any in the defects of the period and most nobly exhibited the virtues of the race. Generosity he has, such as is possible to those who practice an art; never to those who drive a trade. Discretion tested by a hundred secrets. Tact tried in a thousand embarrassments, and what are most important Herculean cheerfulness and courage, so that he brings hope and cheer into the sick room and, often enough, though not so often as he wishes, brings healing.
    Klamath Falls, Oct. 16.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 16, 1929, page 8

Last revised March 22, 2023