The History Of Drug Use In The

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The History Of Drug Use In The US Essay, Research Paper In 1900 there were more people addicted to drugs in this country than there are today. Charles Whitebread said in a speech at the California Judges Association 1995 annual conference that there were between two and five percent of the entire adult population of the United States addicted to drugs in 1900. There were two principal causes of 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. As late as 1900 particularly in areas where medical resources were scarce it was common. If you had appendicitis, you would go into the hospital, and you would get morphine as a pain killer during the operation. You

would be given morphine further after the operation, and you would come out of the hospital with no appendix but addicted to morphine. The use of morphine in battlefield operations during the Civil War was so extensive that by 1880, so many Union veterans were addicted to morphine that the popular press called morphinism the “soldiers’ disease.” The Confederate veterans didn’t have any problems with morphine though, because the South was too poor to have any. Therefore, battlefield operations on the Confederate Army were simply done by chopping off the wounded limb while they drank a little whiskey. However, the Northern troops heavily found themselves, as the result of battlefield operations and the use of morphine, addicted to the drug. Another strange thing about drug

addiction at the turn of the century is who the addicts were. They were the exact opposites of whom one would think most likely to be an addict today. In terms of statistical groups the person who is most likely to be involved with drugs today would be a young male, who lives in the city and may be a minority group member. That is the exact opposite of who was most likely to be addicted to drugs at the turn of the century. In the early 1900’s, the person who was most likely to be a drug addict was a rural living, middle-aged white woman. The use of morphine in medical operations does not explain the much higher occurrence of drug addiction among women. What does, is the second cause of the high level of addiction at the turn of the century – the growth and development of what

we now call the “patent medicine” industry. As late as 1900, in rural areas where medical resources were scarce, it was typical for itinerant salesmen to cruise around the countryside offering potions and elixirs of all kinds advertised in the most flashy kinds of terms, such as “Doctor Smith’s Oil, Good for What Ails You,” or “Doctor Smith’s Oil, Good for Man or Beast.” What the peddlers of these medicines did not tell their buyers was that later, when these patent medicines were tested, many of them proved to be up to 50% morphine by volume. One of the most significant things about the high morphine content in patent medicines was it meant they tended to live up to their advertising. No matter what is wrong with you or your beast, you are going to feel a whole

lot better after a couple of drinks of an elixir that is 50% morphine. So people thought that it really worked. You could then go to the general store and buy more of it directly over the counter. People became involved with drugs they did not know that they were taking, that they did not know the impact of. There was more drug addiction than there is now because most of it was accidental. The main law that reduced drug addiction the most was the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 did three things. It created the Food and Drug Administration in Washington that must approve all foods and drugs meant for human consumption. The first impact of that was that the patent medicines were not approved for human consumption once they were tested. The second