They went from common analgesics to blacklisted substances, and now theyre criterion again. Along the route, efforts to criminalize havent stemmed usage
Americas burgeoning opiate problem is a tragedy, but it shouldnt come as a surprise: it stretches back to the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620.
Like other opiates, laudanum is derived from the opium poppy( the joy plant as the Sumerians called it 5,000 years ago ). Like all opiates, it was an effective pain killer, an anti-diarrheal and a soporific. In the rough frontier of early America, opiates helped ease the pain brought on by such ailments as smallpox, cholera and dysentery.
By the American Revolution, opium was a common medical tool. Thomas Jefferson, though generally skeptical of the medical treatments of his day, turned to laudanum in his later years to help ease his chronic diarrhea an affliction that probably helped kill him.
He felt so much better on the drug that he wrote to a friend, with care and laudanum I may consider myself in what is to be my habitual state. Jeffersons utilize of the word habitual is say. He ultimately grew his own poppies on his Monticello estate.
By the middle of the 19 th century, recreational opiate utilize was becoming more common. The scaremongering press denounced Chinese opium dens, playing up the drugs immigrant associations and planting the idea that Chinese men were use opium to entice white women into having sex.
Most Americans didnt require an opium den to get their fix, though. By then, opiates were the main ingredient in everything from teething powders to analgesics for menstrual cramps. Patent medicines so-called because they often contained secret patented ingredients inundated the market. Some served a useful intent, but they also became easy methods to get high.
One famous product was Mrs Winslows Soothing Syrup, a morphine and alcohol concoction that was marketed to parents of fussy children as a perfectly harmless and pleasant way to produce a natural quiet sleep, by relieving the child from pain. After the civil war, even more potent drugs entered the market, including the opiate heroin( introduced by Bayer around the same time as aspirin) and the stimulant cocaine, which was used in everything from coughing syrups to Coca-Cola( despite the companys stringent denials ).
This was the status quo until 1906, when the federal government under Teddy Roosevelt stepped in with its landmark Pure Food and Drug Act, which required any dangerous or addictive medications to appear on the label of products. Three years later, the Smoking Opium Exclusion Act Americas first stab at medication proscription banned the importation of opiates that were to be used strictly for recreational use, though its unclear if this was really a measure to kerb drug use or simply anti-Chinese legislation.
The next big medication law came in 1914, when the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act both made a federal registry of all persons who creates, importations, fabricates, compounds, bargains in, dispenses, distributes, or devotes away opium or coca leaves or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, or preparation thereof, and levied taxes on them.
While physicians were supposedly excluded if the drugs were deemed medically necessary, the law severely limited the capacities of physicians to prescribe opiates. The act singled out addiction as a moral failing , not a medical disease, which constructed it nearly impossible for physicians to treat anyone with an opiate dependency.
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