United Nations experts estimate that about fifty tons of heroin now reach the illicit drug market each year. That amounts to a minimum of ten billion doses, enough for three each to every man, woman, and child in the world.

The drug problem is more acute than even informed people imagine. It is probably most severe now in North America. Unless indifference is overcome and drastic measures are taken, drug abuse could get completely out of hand within a matter of months. National vitality may be at stake.

What makes the peril so great? The chief factor is that drug abuse tends to increase in a geometric progression. The point is often made that if one Christian were to win one convert each day, and that if each convert would in turn win another, the whole world population would be Christian in less than a month. The same progression could be applied to drug addiction. Users cannot quit and often become pushers (or thieves and even murderers) to finance their craving, soliciting others who also become addicts and in turn pushers, and so on. It is a chilling consideration.

Ralph de Jesus must currently be the most famous twelve-year-old boy in the world. He became known through the mass media after his testimony before a committee of the New York legislature investigating addiction among the young. Ralphie is a four-foot-tall, sixty-pound symbol of the terrifying wave of drug abuse among pre-adolescents. He is now being treated in an effort to get him off the habit of injecting heroin directly into his bloodstream.

Ralphie arouses our compassion, and that is right; but today’s drug addicts should also be arousing indignation. Drug abuse is not merely an unfortunately widespread personal problem. It is a crisis in which many people ...

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