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By Todd Howard

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Author Jara A. Krivanek notes that heroin was introduced by longtime users to the African-American and Puerto Rican communities who had come to the cities looking for work: Like all new immigrants, they worked at the lowest economic levels, settled in slum neighborhoods, and endured unemployment, poverty and discrimination. From 1947 to 1951 the use of heroin spread steadily among these and other lower class, slum-dwelling people. . The increase was gradual, and did not attract much attention.

As a result of all this, many American addicts were forced to undergo involuntary withdrawal from their habits, and by the end of World War II the American addict population had dropped to less than twenty thousand. In fact, as the war drew to a close, there was every reason to believe that the scourge of heroin had finally been purged from the United States. 10 By the time the war ended in 1945, consumer demand for the drug was the lowest it had been in fifty years. Supplies were nonexistent, and international criminal syndicates had fallen into disarray.

22 Additionally, all sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes, can be contracted through the sharing of needles. The high incidence of prostitution among the addict community contributes even further to this high infection rate among intravenous drug users. The range of infections that intravenous drug users commonly suffer is not limited to those that can be contracted by sharing infected needles, however. “The very act of injecting foreign substances, in particular heroin,” notes Dr.

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