"It was from opium that morphine, a derivative, was developed as a pain killer in approximately 1810. It was considered a wonder drug because it eliminated severe pain associated with medical operations or traumatic injuries. It left the user in a completely numb euphoric dream-state. Because of the intense euphoric side effects, the drug in 1811 was named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, by Dr. F.W.A. Serturner, a German pharmacist. By the mid 1850’s, morphine was available in the United States and became more and more popular with the medical profession. The benefits of using the drug to treat severe pain was considered nothing short of remarkable to doctors of the time. Unfortunately, the addictive properties of the drug, on the flip side, went virtually unnoticed until after the Civil War.
During the Civil War the numbers of people exposed to morphine in the course of being treated for their war-related injuries sky-rocketed. Tens of thousands of Northern and Confederate soldiers became morphine addicts.
In just over 10 years time from its arrival into this country, the United States was plagued with a major morphine epidemic. Even though no actual statistics were kept on addiction at this time, the problem had grown to large enough proportions to raise serious concerns from the medical profession. Doctors became perplexed and were completely in the dark as to how to treat this new epidemic.
By 1874 the answer to this increasing problem was thought to be found in the invention of a new drug in Germany. This new wonder drug was called Heroin, after its German trademarked name. Heroin was imported into the United States shortly after it was invented. The sales pitch that created an instant market to American doctors and their morphine addicted patients was that Heroin was a “safe, non-addictive” substitute for morphine.
Hence, the heroin addict was born and has been present in American culture ever since.
From the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s the reputable drug companies of the day began manufacturing over-the-counter drug kits. These kits contained a glass barreled hypodermic needle and vials of opiates (morphine or heroin) and/or cocaine packaged neatly in attractive engraved tin cases. Laudanum (opium in an alcohol base) was also a very popular elixir that was used to treat a variety of ills. Laudanum was administered to kids and adults alike - as freely as aspirin is used today.
There were of course marketing and advertising campaigns launched by the drug companies producing this product that touted these narcotics as the cure for all types of physical and mental ailments ranging from alcohol withdrawal to cancer, depression, sluggishness, coughs, colds, tuberculosis and even old age. Most of the elixirs pitched by the old “snake oil salesmen” in their medicine shows contained one or more of these narcotics in their mix.
Heroin, morphine and other opiate derivatives were unregulated and sold legally in the United States until 1920 when Congress recognized the danger of these drugs and enacted the Dangerous Drug Act. This new law made over-the-counter purchase of these drugs illegal and deemed that their distribution be federally regulated. By the time this law was passed, however, it was already too late. A market for heroin in the U.S. had been created. By 1925 there were an estimated 200,000 heroin addicts in the country. It was a market which would persist until this day."
A lot of the current problem goes back to a single letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine back in 1980 that implied that opioids might only rarely be addictive. This was later seized upon by drug manufacturers to push opioids to docs.
Our health system doesn't help, paying docs for services rather than outcomes.
And unfortunately, even though we've partly gotten the prescription opioids under control, too many people were already addicted, and now the issue has moved to illegal drugs, in some cases synthetic opioids much stronger than morphine or oxycontin.
Ha AKDog...we posted about the same article almost at the same time.
Putting aside a debate over the death penalty, I've been wondering why there is so much of a problem with states getting death penalty drugs. Wouldn't a large (or even small, apparently) dose of fentanyl do the job? There also seems to be no issue painlessly euthanizing animals; why wouldn't this same procedure work for humans?
Again, I'm NOT advocating for the death penalty!!!
I know that history, you went to wiki. That's fine.
Opium=the gum scraped from the poppy.
main ingredients in opium=morphine, codine, thebaine and I forget whatelse
heroin=synthesized from morphine, then metabolizes back to morphine in the blood stream.
Its no big deal just that you said morphine comes from H and its the other way around. I'd take either before I ever took Bupenorphine which is the what the recovering addicts are being led to.