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Heroin Addiction in America

Last updated 4 years ago

Heroin is not a new drug—in fact, it’s been around since the late 1800s. Heroin was originally used as a treatment to help opium and morphine addicts transition to a sober lifestyle. Later, people realized the addictive nature of this drug. To learn more about the history of heroin in American, keep reading.

Rise of Opium and Morphine

In the early 1800s, addiction to opium and later morphine had become serious problems. Opium had originally been touted as a cure for alcoholism, though it was also used recreationally by the famous and common alike. Morphine, which was derived from opium in 1810 as a painkilling drug, was believed to be a wonder drug because of its effectiveness in completely numbing pain—and everything else. It was not until after the US Civil War, when tens of thousands of soldiers had received this wonder drug for injuries sustained in battle, that the addictive properties of morphine truly came to light.

Popularization of Heroin

Heroin was originally synthesized in 1874 by an English chemist as a cure for the United States’ serious morphine addiction problem, to aid in the transition to sober living for addicts. Like morphine, it was revered as a wonder drug with non-addictive properties that could be used to replace morphine safely to help addicts recover. By 1898, heroin was produced commercially by the Bayer Pharmaceutical Company in Germany and widely distributed for everything from morphine addiction to tuberculosis to the common cold.

Dangerous Drug Act

By 1920, the addictive properties of heroin and other such narcotics were unmistakable. Congress passed the Dangerous Drug Act, which made the over-the-counter purchasing of drugs such as heroin, morphine, and opium illegal. But with 200,000 citizens already living with a heroin addiction by 1925, the market certainly wasn’t in danger of disappearing.

Heroin is highly addictive—but there is help. At The Hills Treatment Center of Los Angeles, our sober living programs will help you transition from addiction to a life free of heroin. To find out more about us, visit us on the Web or call (800) 724-8207 today.


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