Opiate Addiction in 19th Century America


Interesting article that states that opium use in American goes back to the Revolutionary War. The Civil War “helped set off America’s opiate pandemic,” with the Union army dispensing 10 million opium pills and 2.8 million ounces of opium powders, although it is unknown how many soldiers became addicted. The invention of the hypodermic needle in 1856, which became in widespread use in the 1870s, increased the use of the opium derivative morphine. Medical journals in the 1870s and 1880s urged doctors to use caution when administering the highly addictive morphine, but it wasn’t until about 1895 that the morphine addiction epidemic began to abate due to improved medicines and increased public awareness of the seriousness of addiction through public health awareness campaigns.