History of Human Usage

In 1900, there were far more people addicted to morphine then they are today. A medical survey taken at the beginning of the century, indicates that about five percent of the population of the United States was addicted to morphine. They are two principal causes for this dramatic level of drug addiction at the turn of the century.

The first cause was the use of morphine and its various derivatives in legitimate medical operations. In areas where medical resources were scarce, it was common for doctors to give their patients pain killers. These pain killers would become addictive over time especially for chronic or long lasting ailments. Morphine was also used in battlefield operations during the Civil War. By 1880, so many Union veterans were addicted to morphine that the popular press referred to morphine addiction as the "soldier's disease". The statistical group that was most addicted to morphine back at this time, was a rural living, middle aged white woman. At the turn of the century the patent medical industry was booming, and it correlated well with the middle aged woman. Most of these medications were laced with morphine and sold on the street corner, so many people became easily addicted.

Medicine in the early days was not as restricted as it is today, so it was much easier to gain access to harmful medications. Drug addiction back in the turn of the century was purely accidental, people became involved with drugs they did not know they were taking. They also did not know the long term impacts of the drugs they were taking. In the 1900's, morphine addiction was rampant, but it was mainly due to medical operations and the introduction of the medical patent industry. (Hisory of the Opiates, 1972)


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