YOUTH: High & Light

A Chicago father, home early one afternoon last autumn, opened the door of his son's bedroom and found himself staring at a terrifying tableau. His son, a 15-year-old vocational-school student, was sitting there, one forearm bared, a hypodermic syringe in his hand. Another boy was holding a teaspoon over the flame of a cigarette lighter. Both the syringe and the teaspoon contained heroin.

Weeping, the boy confessed that he had used drugs for a year—first marijuana on a dare from a schoolmate, then the virulent morphine derivative, heroin. The drug made him...