HISTORY OF HEROIN

 

THE WILD WILD WEST ……

Heroin, (an opium derivative), unfortunately a very popular choice of drug in the American culture today, it didn’t just "show up" in the late 1960’s. Beginning in the late 1800’s opium was fairly popular. They had opium dens scattered throughout the "wild west". It arrived here via Chinese immigrants that came here to work on the railroads. Instead of belling up to the bar drinking whiskey, the cowhand was in a prone position in a candle lit dim room smoking opium. It wasn’t uncommon for cowhands to spend several days & nights at the den eventually becoming physically addicted to the drug. Even though, at the time alcoholism was a bigger problem.

A NEW WONDER DRUG……

A new "wonder drug" was developed in 1810, this new wonder drug, morphine, (also an opium derivative), was eliminating severe pain associated with medical operations or traumatic injuries. It left the user in a completely numb euphoric dream state, and was named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, by F.W.A. Serturner, a German pharmacist. By the mid 1850’s morphine was available in the U.S., and was pretty popular with the medical profession. The benefits of using the drug to treat severe pain were considered almost miraculous by the doctors of the time.

ADDICTION BEGINS TO BE NOTICED……

The addictive properties of the drug went virtually unnoticed until after the civil war. During the civil war the number of people that were treated for their war injuries sky rocketed and tens of thousands of confederate and northern soldiers became morphine addicts. The United States was plagued with a major morphine epidemic in just over 10 years time. Although no actual statistics were kept on addiction, the problem had grown to large enough proportions that it raised serious concerns from the medical profession. Doctors had no idea how to treat this new epidemic.

WAS THIS REALLY THE ANSWER……

The answer to this increasing problem was thought to have been found in the invention of a new drug in Germany. The new wonder drug was called HEROIN, after its German trademarked name. It was imported into the United States shortly thereafter. The instant market to the American doctors and their morphine-addicted patients was that "Heroin was a safe, non addictive substitute for morphine". That’s how the heroin addict was born and has been present in American culture ever since.

 


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Copyright © 2002 by [Heroin Awareness Foundation]. All rights reserved.
Revised:03-04-04 10:18 AM
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