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What do people tell someone when they offer. Two hundred twenty four New York City children were put to sleep permanently by Harlan overdose last year alone. Problem is most acute in New York the heroin epidemic has already begun to spread like a plan. For the Children's Foundation in Washington D.C. This is Jeff reporting the lullaby of death. A nationwide examination of kids and heroin. These so-called narcotic character those to hide stuff like heroin morphine and morphine it's
derivatives of opium. Basically at one time this was always in the Get a group in the black communities. Today it's branched out into our hippies into a lower class middle class white people and against the Muslim families. I mean we're playing the game as we say that is Chicago police narcotics agent Tony regard me. He offers this educated guess on the number of child addicts in Chicago whether it be called a panic or what I don't know I'd say roughly maybe in a city the size of Chicago you're lucky if you've got maybe 5000 kids you know teens sub teens or teenagers and involved in it and you want to Captain Clarence Jerusalem as commander of the police narcotics unit. These kids one contaminates the other. This is the real danger about heroin addiction particularly at the teenage level and even the pre-teens. This is the real danger in that this is. It's an irrefutable truism that addicts beget out actions and it's that simple.
San Francisco police lieutenant Norbert Curry is the city's top narcotics enforcement official. This involvement or the indication of involvement with heroin among our subculture of young people is only indicated beginning in the last six months ago I'd say the first indication that young people ages 15 16 and 17 were interested. Did you say most story is that everybody said well if you start to smoke marijuana you become a heroin addict. This isn't true. You know basic chemical reason and I don't think you can set a formula. All you can do is follow the pattern that you developed and put yourself in a position say yes we have the problem. Los Angeles county covers several thousand square miles. Captain Dan Cooke polices the suburban heroin scene for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Office. The statistics have just grown so large and a problem so commonplace. There are so many kids coming home or being sent home from school under the influence that it's something that we can no longer turn away from and figure it's going to happen to somebody else's kid but not my heroin use among children is growing too in Kansas City Missouri where Detective Alfred
Lomax outlines a major part of the problem. You've got parents one of the. Very few but there are some. You've got the one it all has the old standbys saying not me my child is not involved in that my child couldn't be in any car he couldn't be using drugs. And once they realize this then they place the blame somewhere else other than the parent child communication problems. Then you have the unconcerned person just. Nothing's going on around him he's just unconscious to what's going on around him. So he's not concerned not want to be involved is our biggest problem. Nobody wants to be involved. He'll have this person calls in. I don't want to give my name but there is a house next door to me or several houses down the street where drugs are being used as well what type of drugs. Well I don't know I'm just telling you this for your benefit in a hang up and expect the world to know we're come out of the stop go and I'll crash in the house and there's the drugs. Just on happening we've got to have more information and
have more cooperation of the parents. These people are going to have to get involved where they want to know today's teen age and pre-teen heroin addicts or the children of America rich and poor white and nonwhite recorded in interviews at treatment centers in Los Angeles Chicago New York. These are some of the victims of the drug epidemic. I used to drink like when I was about 12 years old and I gone. And. I met. My husband when I was 16 and he was using heroin and smoking pot and things like that. He was 19 at the time and we got married when I was 16 and he he started me using heroin. I smoked pot for about two weeks and then I went to heroin. And. We used to for about a year and then we got a rest of the selling marijuana and we got out on bail. And. About three months later I got pregnant. And I didn't find out I was pregnant till I was 5 months pregnant because I was a hundred three pounds when I was
six months pregnant and I had no stomach or anything. So when I found out I was pregnant and the doctor told me if I took another shot of heroin that I would probably kill myself and the baby. But I did it anyway. You started to do stuff so to drink at. 13 it was like to cry and cry like I was 14 and I want to be a sceptered because. Basically that's why most kids packed for my son to be identified with the hippies and the BS names on it but we wanted to be anyway. Basically like all the heads stuck together it's cool to be in the underground political revolutionaries those are basically the people who are doing drugs. Since then like I left home and everything and I
went to a different kind of people. You know what's really surprising is no drug users susceptible school. Nobody bats an eyelid should anybody smoking grass. Most of the people who are very anti drugs collegian people in the greasers every week and you know tripping a lot of people are starting to hit ups man. A lot of people are going into the weekend thing and I know my suburb outlining suburbs are more and more people using your work. I'm 16 years old. I come from these talks. I live in a housing project. The neighborhood. You know is you know the buildings and everything is nice you know. But the people you know the fact the whole housing projects you know uses drugs. Not just. You know.
When I am done. Nothing like done. I want to be accepted really for something which I wasn't and I never really wanted to look at the way I really was I thought in my mind you know a person which I really wasn't. And through drugs. Remember when I would sniff glue I would I would block all that out you know and I would I would feel pretty good. And then I was offered you know like marijuana I smoked it and I also got same feelings from and I I really didn't worry too much about you know about the things that were bothering me. I would I would be uncomfortable with people. I would go out of my way to do things which which I really didn't want to do. You know just
for you know to be accepted to be hip. You know people look at me and you know say well while you know he's cool too. So I did this I used psychedelic drugs the LSD mescaline suicide been used in Feder means and barbiturates before I came in to get White House I remember my friends started using heroin and my friend some of my friends now are strung out and I used it a couple times and. I really didn't care too much about my life. I started out at 9 years old and I know how when I started it and I went on to go was a different kind of pills. And I started when I was 13 years ago. It was a small thing and became hard for I had to run around a still and beaus forgery burglary. A lot of things. A lady I was living with. Well we will go on together. And.
I drew from my children and. It was poison. It was mixed with poison. And she took it. And I was getting ready to take it. And she was she was dead. But I don't believe she was dead. I started to. At first I thought the lady downstairs came up and she told me that Barber was dead I shouldn't take it but I wanted to use money that was left. And I went out and bought me some. Yes. You. Know what. Do you think.
I started using speed. When I was 14 and then later in the year I guess. I was. Left home when I went to San Francisco. And when I was in San Francisco I lived with the junkies and then I started using junk there and then I just kept on using it until I was about 15 I came in to sit on. Highway step by step. I started smoking pot take pot pills and pot and speed and now I felt like I hadn't experienced everything yet unless I tried. First time I was scared because I was scared of needles. You know like I didn't hit myself something else. You got me off you know and then I guess to us this is nice. You know it's nothing to it. And you know it was I think kind of thing.
You know it was so it was so nice and still so daring. So I used to do it just every day. You know I did steal money in a roundabout way. People at times you know wants to know my friends you know my boyfriend take money from his father. You know we still turn to the dark. He was there and. I down to his mother's grave. This question comes. From the father of banking work from birth to
Quentin birds. YORK CITY Addiction Services Commissioner Larry Baer says heroin has been around for a long time but in the white community only recently. Eight years ago like 10 years ago there was an epidemic in Harlem and there was an epidemic in East Harlem and people weren't that much concerned about it you say. But when it moved out of Harlem people get more concerned. That's where the price of the problem is not a new problem. For example taking marijuana ten years ago the only people who smoke marijuana people live in the ghettos and nobody cared about legalizing it. The recent wave of American press attention given to heroin use by kids was sparked by the overdose death of 12 year old Walter VanderMeer in Harlem outside the tiny funeral chapel where his body was on view one of the people of his community vented her horror and outright. Death. Threats.
Why. Would you think is responsible for the situation now. That that's. Putting. That missed. That's right the mockery are in the light. Right. Now I'm not at the van to be a funeral a minister declared. God isn't holding water responsible. New York state assemblyman Ulan Jack attended the somber service and later said someone is to blame for all the Walter VanderMeer society is responsible. We should never have ghettos in a very affluent society as they ass when a family has now no hope nothing to look forward to. When I first out on the street because they have nowhere to really live and decently. What do you expect in drug treatment therapy at New York City's Odyssey House. Well to VanderMeer is
former friend and partner in addiction. Guy arrested for Omar and we could do class LET ME AT IT. I feel right now not using drugs either for girl no girl when I first took her in but like when I first came I would only do what I want so I will when I get out. Only draw them and she will know I mean program I want to tell you think I did everything well constructed things will destroy district you know a lot of enemies frightened. Yeah. What do you guys do together. Taxi cab you know how to deal with stuff like that. What are your best memories of water on the best memories. He was a bad guy you know like oh we did we did mostly right you had to go with us. And that's what's left a lot of enemies and I'm really getting high with them. One of the tens of thousands of juvenile heroin users who do not live within the desperate grey walls
of the nation's ghettos. Who or what is responsible for their condition. Some answers now from Pete Garcia an ex-junkie and leader in the Albuquerque New Mexico drug your program called Brar nine times out of 10 the kids today that get addicted I really like kids. They're very idealistic kids and they're so frustrated they see that they're so hung up on what they see. There's so hung up on the hypocrisy in our society today. They want to show their rejection so badly that they show their rejection by becoming anti-social by becoming mean and how am I how far out can you get men the minute Jack how do you know how much more anti-social can you get. Because I've talked to a lot of kids today that are junkies who are in their teens. They all seem to want to reject everything that their parents stand for their kids specially the kids
that come from from affluent families. There are tribute their addiction to the poverty and the misery and everything that they see around them and they want no part of it so they want to want to get away from that. They want to find their own thing and and that's you know that's a whole sick thing that we're living in today and just people just want to know part of it and they want to reject it. And they see the hypocrisy. They have government in their lives and they just you know I just don't want no part of it. Albuquerque New Mexico has a rapidly escalating heroin problem. Despite the efforts of people like Garcia and others who are working toward curing junkies and discouraging potential users here a girl tells of heroin in her school kids getting groups and then think oh miss people waiting outside.
It's after school and during lunch time. And they go and get stuff in them. And then they bring it back to school and if they're lucky they don't get caught. They passed around the other kids. What's your guess. How many kids do you think are using heroin in your school. I'd say something like 200. Has anyone offered you any island so you got out a lunch. We got out of the cafeteria walking around the grounds and we were walking around the gate and disseminates walked up to us and asked and I thought that we just told him to lay off and not one of the teachers. How old are you. Taking. How old are the kids who are shooting heroin. I'd say if the kids are taking him even when you need sixth grade. And the older I get and that's saying
mean 8:00 tonight they're taking me at the Gateway House treatment center in Chicago director called The kids are responding to society in general today it's you know the society today is is geared to cop out you know the you want to be a lot of the Thais misfeature the escape machine get away from it all insulate yourself isolate yourself etc. etc.. Television advertisements say don't find the source of your discomfort take compose and. Numb yourself to the discomfort. Don't go to sleep take vitamin an on an on and on and on. I think the society itself is a scape insulation orientated and the kids are only doing what they see mommy and daddy do really. In fact in many kids their first source of drug use is mommy and daddy's medicine cabinet. The kids have seen parents using these things and barbiturates you know how many middle class
wives are using barbiturates to sleep at night and before you know it. If they're using it you know just in the evening before hubby comes home for supper. So it kind of takes the edge off things it's a tranquilizer and before you know it you're taking it right after lunch so they can tolerate an afternoon with the children and before you know it they're taking it breakfast time so they can face some mornings work the housework and so it's not only women it's men too are using barbiturates and the kids have been watching this for years that a psychiatrist Barry Raymer he is in a way the Batman of heroin in San Francisco travelling the streets by night in a red Cadillac limousine. He is known to all the junkies of the city as the man to go to for help. Heroin is more available in many places San Francisco than then. In marijuana or in felonies or barbiturates or three other drugs. Like. Life you know that you want to buy heroin you go to the corner McAlister Filmore and there are five or seven. Black fellas standing around they are joshing each other. And. You can purchase it right there you know I mean broad daylight right out in the
open you passing $20 and you get a balloon. So Sufis readily available and it's readily available in most high schools. And. The reason for it's a ready availability is it's you know if you want to smuggle in a key of grass like a kilogram of. Marijuana. It's a pretty bulky thing you know it is hard to bring across the border. But a couple of ounces of heroin. To bring across the border can be pretty much concealed on any part of your body. And unless the. Unless the customs agent at the border. Has some reason to suspect you are trying to smuggle in drugs you can bring in any quantity you want. There's also mystique about heroin. You know. Like people talk about it being the elixir of life. Joy juice and. Many many other sorts of terms that the kids use about. About. Hard narcotics that convey the. Concept of it being delightful pleasurable good things to happen to you.
One of the other things also that I begin to see is that the kids are very in rebellion against society in general. And that if society says heroine's bad that's what they have to do. No matter what it is society says it's bad to go around your bare feet so you go right to your bare feet. Society says it's bad to. It's bad you know you shouldn't wear old rags. Materialism is the name of the game. So the kids say well materialist materialism is not the name of the game. And you should go around in rags what you have discarded as being unsuitable is something I think is great beautiful and I'm putting it on I'm going to wear it. So sort of that's where the kids are going. Most of the private heroin treatment centers around the country and there are only a handful are in some way modeled on sin and what you're junkies by removing them permanently from the maddening outside world placing them instead the incredibly honest and loving environment of the rather square communal existence. Jack Hurst an ex-addict is president of the giant Sinan foundation. I asked him how the
nation might solve its avalanche ing heroin crisis. The idea that somehow we're going to cure these problems these symptoms is like trying to stamp out TB by. My passing off cough syrups diseases within minutes the whole society civil war with the whole thing. It's the whole ball of wax for. Sure. That noise of human suffering was recorded at the funeral for Walter Vandermeer. Symbolically it was the funeral for the other two hundred twenty three New York City kids who died of heroin overdose in 1969. And if we don't move to stop the epidemic now those funeral tears could be for your child to live. This program was produced by the Children's Foundation in Washington D.C..
This is Jeff Cannon speaking. This is the national educational radio network.
Four documentaries
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The Lullabye of Death
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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