WASHINGTON, D. C. -- The Senate's Special Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Narcotics Friday heard testimony on heroin from nine people, five of whom were former addicts.
Most of the former addicts were very critical of all drugs, including marijuana. "Any kid who says pot does not lead to other drugs is crazy," said one former addict.
The experts in rehabilitation of addicts were less critical of grass, however, Jerome H. Jaffe, Director of the Drug Abuse Program of the Illinois Department of Mental Health, said, "Many addicts began with marijuana--most of them began their lives with milk, too--that doesn't mean that there is a cause and effect relationship."
Two students, one an ex-addict and the other an ex-pusher, testified on heroin use in the suburbs, which they said was growing rapidly.
They were the only two at the hearing who insisted on remaining anonymous. One of them, David X, said when he took the stand that two federal narcotics agents had been in the audience earlier.
Sen. Harold E. Hughes (D-Iowa), chairman of the subcommittee, said that he had been unaware of the agents' presence.
Throughout the hearing, although he asked probing questions of the witnesses, the senator assured them that they did not have to answer anything they preferred not to answer.
Hughes asked some of the witnesses what they thought of President Nixon's proposed bill to sentence a first-time offender to a minimum of two years in jail for possession of marijuana.
Jane K., a former addict, said, "Living in the suburbs, you aren't aware of the police. A sentence of two years--you can't even conceive of it."
Four officials of various rehabilitation programs spoke on different means to help an addict to kick his habit. One of the more disputed methods is methadome, a drug which reportedly has no addictive qualities, yet can get an addict of heroin and functioning normally without any bad side effects. Often former addicts stay on methadome treatment for a long period of time.
Jaffe said that methadome has been the most successful treatment in his rehabilitation centers in Illinois. The addicts were much more pessimistic about it, however. "If methadome were grown in a foreign country and shipped in, conceivably doctors would use heroin to get people off methadome," David X said.
The subcommittee adjourned until after the Congressional recess later this month. In late September, they will hold hearings in cities around the country, including San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, and then resume hearings in Washington