Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/683

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HOW THE OPIUM-HABIT IS ACQUIRED. 665

larjmgitis, diphtlieria, bronchitis, congestion, pneumonia, con- sumption, gastritis, liver-complaint, stone in the gall-duct, car- ditis, aneurism, hypertrophy, peritonitis, calculus, kidney trouble, rheumatism, neuralgia, and all general or special maladies of the body. It is the great panacea and cure-all.

During my leisure time I have looked up more than 10,000 recipes. It has been my practice to go to the files, open the book, or take up a spindle at random, and take 300 recipes just as they come. The first store I visited I found 43 recipes which contained morphine out of the 300 examined. Close by, a smaller store, patronized by poorer people, had 36. Up in the aristocratic quar- ters, where the customers call in carriages, I found 49 morphine recipes in looking over 300. At the North End, among the poor Italian laborers, the lowest proportion of 32 in 300 was discovered. Without detailing all the places visited, I will summarize by say- ing that, in 10,200 recipes taken in 34 drug-stores, I found 1,481 recipes which prescribed some preparation of opium, or an average of fourteen and one half per cent of the whole.

This was surprising enough ; but my investigations did not end here. Of the prescriptions furnished by physicians I found that forty-two per cent were filled the second time, and of those refilled twenty-three per cent contained opium in some form. Again, twenty-eight per cent of all prescriptions are filled a third time ; and of these, sixty -one per cent were for opiates ; while of the twenty per cent taken for the fourth filling, seventy-eight per cent were for the narcotic drug, proving, beyond a doubt, that it was the opiate qualities of the medicine that afforded relief and caused the renewal.

From conversation with the druggists, I learned that the pro- prietary or " patent " medicines which have the largest sales were those containing opiates. One apothecary told me of an old lady who formerly came to him as often as four times a week and pur- chased a fifty-cent bottle of " cough-balsam." She informed him that it " quieted her nerves " and afforded rest when everything else had failed. After she had made her regular visits for over a year, he told her one day that he had sold out of the medicine re- quired, and suggested a substitute, which was a preparation con- taining about the same amount of morphine. On trial, the woman found the new mixture answered every purpose of the old. The druggist then told her she had acquired the morphine-habit, and from that time on she was a constant morphine-user.

It was hard to learn just what proportion of those who be- gan by taking medicines containing opiates became addicted to the habit. I should say, from what I learned, that the number was fully twenty-five per cent — perhaps more. The proportion of those who, having taken up the habit in earnest, left it off later on, was

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