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Was Drug Control in the 1900's Effective?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By MarcieBear
Words 3137
Pages 13
In 1911, Dr. Hamilton Wright, the United States Opium Commissioner, at the time, stated that “of all the nations… the United States [consumed] most habit-forming drugs per capita.”1
This branded America as a drug lord, and future generations would continue to uphold the atrocious title and reputation, demonstrating that the United States’ drug control system was poorly enforced during the 1900’s. Neglectful physicians, contraband traces in food and medicine, utter ignorance in part of the American government, and social retaliation led to
America becoming a leader in illicit substance distribution and use. One would think that medical professionals should be dedicated to ensuring patient health and safety, but history reveals ethical mishaps and disappointing facts dictating quite the contrary. Heroin, a substance extracted from the seed pod of certain poppy plants,2 was once a primary component for medications that treated cough-inducing illnesses. Bayer, a major pharmaceutical company, widely advertised heroin and its concoctions, such as heroinhydrochloride, to the general public. It was claimed as, “the cheapest specific for the relief of coughs,” which would appeal to any customer (see page 11, Figure 1). However, heroin is derived from morphine, which is highly addictive and even toxic in large quantities. Morphine caused crisis among civil war veterans, who became dangerously addicted to the pain reliever.3
Even with these previous events in mind, doctors did not retaliate against the popularization of the substance. In fact, doctors proceeded to prescribe said medications to their patients (see page
11, Figure 2). Heroin was not the only substance that doctors helped spread. In 1919, Congress…...

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