09 Oct Was Drug Addiction a Problem in the 1920’s?
Believe it or not, drug addiction is not only a problem in the 21st century or the 80’s. In fact, drug addiction has been around for over a century. In the 1920’s, addictive drugs were often found in toothache powder, Coca-Cola and Cough Syrup. These drugs were often heroin, cocaine and morphine.
Addicts today would not consider the amounts put in these products enough for them to get high. However, back then, people were not educated enough about drugs to know what to avoid.
In 1929, a doctor by the name of J.L. Schoch died at the age of 86. His housekeeper named Mary Reed got arrested the same day for forging prescriptions for drugs. As you can imagine, this was a shock to the community.
A newspaper called the Public Opinion reported that she purchased as many as 400 to 500 morphia tablets a month. Since this was an uncommon occurrence in her day, people wondered how she was able to obtain the medication. She said that while she was working for Dr. Schoch, she came across his prescription pad. Mary Reed then decided to pretend to be Dr. Schoch’s daughter. She would forge prescriptions and take them to her local pharmacy. This went on for a year.
When Dr. Schoch’s real daughter got “wind” of this, she fired her. After losing her job, she kept on going back to the pharmacy to pick up her forged medications from the pharmacist that he already had on file. She eventually lost her means to pay for the drugs. She then started to say that the pharmacist could put them on Dr. Schoch’s account. He was not aware that she had been fired yet. Remember, the internet and television was not around yet.
When Dr. Schoch received the bill for the drugs, he said that he had never authorized these prescriptions. The pharmacist did not have any idea what was going on. He told the doctor that his daughter had been coming in to pick up the morphia on a regular basis.
When the doctor confronted his daughter about this, she said that she did not make any purchases and did not pick up anything from the drug store. As you can imagine, the druggist was alarmed by the situation and called the Treasury Department. An inspector got placed on the case immediately.
The inspector eventually put Mrs. Reed down as a suspect. Since she was now working at a new job, he had to find her. He eventually did and brought her in for questioning. At first, Reed denied the fact that she was being accused. Since she was denying her involvement so heavily, the inspector told her to go and speak with a medical examiner. Shockingly, she agreed to go.
The medical examiner said that she was indeed a drug addict. Finally, she confessed to what she had been doing and the rest is history. This is one of the first cases in US history of a person being accused of drug addiction.