Early drug warnings, historic highways and Earth Day, circa 2000
This illustration in the Eagle County Blade helped describe the perils of opium addiction.
Editor’s note: Newspaper journalism has often been described at the first draft of history and it’s always illustrative and entertaining to go back and riff through the archives. Summit Voice correspondent Jennifer Brancaccio has agreed to comb through the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection to compile a weekly look back at stories from the days of yore.
Compiled by Jennifer Brancaccio
The Eagle County Blade – April 28, 1910
The Curse of Opium
Drug awareness education is not unique to the modern era, As early as April 28, 1910, the Eagle County Blade was reporting on the dangers of opium. Elliot Flowers described the story of a successful man who was building a career and climbing the social ladder. Upon developing an opium habit, he fell into a life of crime, “borrowing” items to feed his habit. His brother took care of him, helping him to break the habit. Though he was free of it, opium still ruined the man’s life. He was seen as a ‘tragedy’ and a pathetic man. He died miserable and with nothing.
Flowers went on to explain how opium was a taxed import, used to create morphine, to help with a patient’s pain. Smugglers would sneak in opium, in order to avoid the tax, to supply opium dens and addicts.
Some addicts came to form an addiction unknowingly through morphine use, injecting the drug intravenously while others smoked it intentionally for the high. All become desperate for the drug, exercising any means possible to obtain it. Sometimes, an addict would use cocaine to ease the withdrawal from opium, only to engender a new addiction. The cycle would continue, leaving the addict desperate and bereft of hope.
Flowers revealed through interviews with police from different cities that it’s impossible to “hit the pipe” and not become addicted. Physicians and businessmen were often the most vulnerable to the drug followed by ministers. “No crime great or small is beyond the reach of the person surrounded by such conditions.”
The author closed his article with another story, one about a couple happily engaged. The fiancé developed an opium addiction and his fiancée, a devoted and loving woman, stood by his side when he confessed his addiction and went through treatment. Though he beat his habit, the husband fell back into it and his new wife was so devastated that she also fell to the addiction. Together they ran an opium den, feeding the addictions of others until their arrest. It’s interesting to see that a version of a public service announcement condemning drugs and notifying the public of their dangers was available in the early 1900’s. If you’re on the home page, there are more stories after the break … Continue reading
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