Thursday, March 27, 2014

Prescription Drug Abuse History


The abuse of prescription drugs in America goes back more than a hundred years to the abuse of laudanum, a mixture of opium and alcohol. This was an early remedy for pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, coughing and diarrhea. In the 1800s, laudanum was used by doctors across the country. But it was quite addictive.

It was also part of an interesting division of addiction for people living in the 1800s. The usual laudanum addict was a Caucasian woman. Men had their own substance of addiction - alcohol. But women were not supposed to visit bars or saloons or be seen drinking so they could visit their doctors for their addictive substances. And they did, for problems with pregnancy, childbirth, menstrual cramps or emotional problems.
Morphine Use Grows

The commercial manufacture of morphine started in Germany in 1827, and the drug became the painkiller of choice during the American Civil War. While there are conflicting accounts of the degree to which morphine contributed to cases of addiction after the war was over, it has been reported that there were ten million opium pills handed out to army surgeons during the war, and that morphine was widely used for the terrible shrapnel wounds suffered by soldiers.

In fact, the doctor who invented the Coca Cola formula developed a morphine addiction during the Civil War and was looking for a solution. He added the recently-developed drug cocaine to his new drink and began to sell it at a pharmacy in Atlanta. Because there were few laws regulating the contents of foods or drugs, it was perfectly legal for him to do so.

In fact, the act of "prescribing" drugs like cocaine or morphine was essentially up to the consumer. Morphine and cocaine injection kits, complete with the newly invented syringe and a supply of the medication, were available from Sears catalogs.


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