This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.
Published in 1940, Narcotics: Destroyer of Mind and Body or The Drug Demon warns Americans about the dangers of drug addiction “found not only in the large cities…but also in towns, villages and isolated spots.” The author goes on to draw a parallel between the lies children are told about fairy tales and Santa Clause and about addictive substances. Children grow up to realize these myths are false, and therefore believe the warnings they have been given about alcohol, tobacco, and other substances are also false. The author resolves that young people will inevitably be corrupted by cocaine, opium, etc., “unless material facts proving all the attendant evils are laid before the people.”
The Drug Demon pamphlet goes on to present statistics about drug use in America, citing user increases of 10% annually, noting the commercialization of medical uses of strong drugs such as opium, and calling for new national laws “that will take care of the unfortunate already afflicted.”
The remainder of the pamphlet tells four stories of drug use gone terribly wrong. First addressed is marijuana, which the author calls “one of the most harmful drugs known,” followed by a myriad of violent crime stories linked to the drug. Second, two stories on the dangers of cocaine. The pamphlet is capped off with a summary of the effects of opium, along with an excerpt from Thomas De Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.
The illustrations within are at once cartoonish and haunting, creating a pamphlet surely meant to terrify the reader out of any curiosities about drug use.
To learn more The Drug Demon can be found in Widener’s collection: Chicago: Max Stein, 1942.
Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.