Morphine: History of Abuse

Morphine is one of the potent opiate drugs. It is used as both chronic and acute pain reliever. One of the reasons for the wide use of the drug as a pain reliever is that it is found in abundance in opium and also in animals. This pain medication due its highly addictive properties is being abused for many years. Moreover, its quality of being flexible in its intake that is it can be given through an injection into a skin or muscle and through the mouth has provided the drug users with an extra edge. Hence, the drug has a long history of abuse from routine pain relievers to extremely potent narcotics.

Where did it come from?

Since the beginnings, mankind in pursuit of relief, have been looking for ways that are quick remedial medications. And in this journey of humans, opioids have been one of the most controversial medications.

The once known as the magical drug and plant of joy goes way back to Byzantine times. Alchemists of then had opium-based elixir but the defeat of the Ottoman made them lose the basic formula of the drug. From time to time other opium-based medications were introduced like laudanum by Paracelsus around 1522 and the new opiate in the late eighteenth century by East India Company.

Soon in 1804 Friedrich Sertürner, Germany based pharmacist discovered Morphine and named it after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. Morphine is considered as the very first alkaloid obtained from plant poppy. Actively marketed as the pain medication in 1817 to the general public it helped a lot of doctors to complete surgeries more efficiently and sedate patients. It was not just used as anaesthesia but also to counter the alcohol addiction. Later in times, various incidents revealed the killing nature of the drug. In particular, Friedrich Sertürnerown wife died of the overdose of the drug. Devastated, he tried to warn others but in vain.

After the outbreak of American Civil War in 1861 the drug was taken as the blessing from the god, treating the war-wounded soldiers. Hence, due to its pain healing characteristics the medical society named it God’s Own Medicine (GOM).  But eventually, the extensive use of morphine proved the addictive nature of the drug. In fact, the drug was alleged to make 400,000 soldiers morphine addicts and the disease was known as the ‘soldier’s disease.’ The war veterans became junkies of the society and the blessings became drug epidemic. As there were no drugs laws, the morphine was easily accessible to anyone.

Later in 1874, the deadly medicine was synthesized, for the medical purposes, to heroin medically called Diacetylmorphine. Heroin is 1.5 to 2 more effective than morphine. Whereas, in 1914, Harrison Narcotics Tax Act imposed a restriction on morphine possession making it controlled substance in the US and without prescription possession illegal. Morphine was the most famous among drug addicts until heroin was synthesized.  Now today Canada is the world’s second-largest consumer of the prescription opioids after America hence indicating an immediate counter response on both individual and state level.

About Lilly McKinlay

Lilly McKinlay

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