Many people think drug abuse and addiction are recent problems in human history. However, most common substances today, such as opioids, meth, and cocaine, have been around for over a century. The history of drugs expands back almost as far as human history, so it’s no wonder that drug epidemics and addictions are difficult for us to eliminate.
The Opioid Epidemic
The history of opioids is almost as old as humanity itself. Opioids and opiates derive from the opium poppy plant. The first use of opium from this plant dates back to Mesopotamia around 3,400 B.C.E., making it one of the oldest drugs in existence. In the history of drugs, opioids and opiates probably have the most influence on human existence.
In the 1700s and 1800s, the world experienced two opium wars. The lucrative plant and its effects maintained its popularity for hundreds of years, even into the 21st century. With the development of heroin, morphine, and prescription painkillers, opioids became easy to acquire. Furthermore, during the over-prescription boom of the 1990s, opioids developed into an epidemic. In the history of drugs, opioids maintained their reputation as the most desirable and dangerous substance on the market.
From Coca to Cocaine
Similar to opioids, the first uses of cocaine date back thousands of years. Cocaine comes from the Coca plant, which is native to South America. Initially, people didn’t understand the dangers of cocaine. It was in recipes for wines, and the original recipe for Coca-Cola included Coca leaves. Furthermore, Americans in the 1980s believed that cocaine was a safe and enjoyable high that didn’t carry the same risks as heroin.
However, as crack cocaine spread throughout cities and many high-profile individuals began dying of cocaine overdoses, the American public finally realized its addictive potential and danger. Like many other substances along the history of drugs, what began as an unsuspecting substance quickly led to a deadly epidemic.
Meth and Stimulants
The history of drugs such as meth and other stimulants is complicated. Unlike heroin or cocaine, which have very few health benefits, stimulants are still a popular prescription today. A Japanese chemist, Nagai Nagayoshi, discovered a stimulant called ephedrine. This substance is the precursor for methamphetamine. Over time, meth’s production became streamlined, and it turned into a popular medication. During World War II, soldiers even used the substance to increase alertness.
In the 1980s, as the dangers of meth became apparent, the United States tightened regulations around the sale of ephedrine. However, meth labs could still use pseudoephedrine, which is a chemical found in cold medicines. Luckily, many countries also cracked down on the sale of those substances, leading to a significant decrease in meth use in the 21st century.
However, as meth abuse decreased, the abuse of other prescription stimulants increased. In the history of drugs, it’s common to see users move from one substance to another similar substance. Adderall and Ritalin are common prescription drugs used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, but they also have similar properties to meth. Unfortunately, stimulant abuse is common among students and young adults, making it a growing problem for Americans.
The History of Drugs and Human Recovery
The history of drugs reveals how dangerous addictive substances are, but humans survived its terror nonetheless. Unlike individuals hundreds of years ago, or even decades ago, there’s hope for people struggling with addiction. For those who have addictions to drugs such as meth, cocaine, and heroin, there’s hope. Crestview Recovery Center is an addiction treatment and dual diagnosis facility that offers comprehensive services, such as:
- Meth addiction treatment program
- Heroin addiction treatment program
- Cocaine addiction treatment program
To begin your recovery journey, contact Crestview Recovery Center today at 866.262.0531. Our team is ready to help you make drug addiction a thing of your past, so call now.