Understanding Heroin – A history lesson.
The history of opiate addiction in modern society is not well understood. For example, few people realize that the intravenous use of morphine was originally believed to prevent addiction to opium. For many years it was actively promoted by the medical profession as it was believed to offer the beneficial effects of opium, while having no risk of addiction. Well, guess what… They got that wrong.
Understanding the nature of addiction is a challenge for most people either suffering with an addiction, or close to someone with an addiction. It is not unusual for people to contact Vancouver Hypnotherapy Inc. after learning someone close to them has an addiction. The first reaction for many people is one of fear, with a degree of panic thrown in for good measure.
While this may not seem unreasonable there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that unless you are very familiar with the narcotic in question, there’s a good chance you may not be looking at this from a position of experience and knowledge. Knowing ‘how bad is bad’ is a good start point. We can help inform you and assess the situation, so you can move forward from a realistic and well informed position.
Our cultural history and its relationship to some drugs is complex and conflicted. As we work with the issue with clients we’ve come to a point where we take nothing for granted.
Below is a short history of Heroin which I found online and is quite interesting. Keep in mind there have been times when people have gone out and bought heroin products to rub on the guns of teething children, used heroin to ease menstrual cramps, and guess what – it’s even been used to over come morning sickness. None of these were what anyone today would describe as a good idea!
It’s worth keeping in mind that the very same people who 10 years ago were handing out gum relief to infants are now prescribing SSRI’s to teenagers.
++++ A history of Opium and the arrival of Heroin +++
Opium has been used medicinally and recreationally for centuries. Fifteenth century China doctors used opium for medicine, with some using it recreationally. It was the first effective antidepressant, sedative, and pain reliever. However, opium addictions only began in the eighteenth century, when the British began to monopolize the sale of opium. It is no coincidence that when the British, with their chemical industry, began selling opium that these chemically altered opiums began creating addictions. Completely natural, unadulterated plants are not addictive until they have been “refined” and concentrated. As a result of what the British did, opium eventually became illegal under Chinese law, but the sale from the British continued.
In 1839, the Emperor, Tao Kwang, ordered his minister Lin Tse-hsu to deal with the opium problem. Lin requested help from Queen Victoria, but was ignored. As a result, the Emperor confiscated 20,000 barrels of opium and detained some foreign traders, many of whom were British. The Chinese believed that because their ceramics and silk technologies were superior to their British counterparts that their naval ships would also be. They were wrong. The British retaliated to this interference with their drug (“medical”) trade by attacking the port-city of Canton.
This was the beginning of what would become known as the ‘First Opium War’. It was launched by the biggest, richest drug cartel that the world has ever known; the British Empire. When the Chinese were defeated, they had no choice but to sign the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. They were required to allow the trade of opium, to make large payments to the British, and even to open five new ports to the foreign drug (“medical”) trade. They were also forced to give Hong Kong to Britain. Opium was, technically, still an illegal substance in China, but the Chinese were forced to accept British imports.
In 1856, the Second Opium War began and ended, with the Chinese being defeated once more. As a result, they were forced to sign the Treaty of Tientsin, and the sale of opium was legalized. The British claimed that the Chinese people had a “right” to this “harmless luxury”, without regard to its own government. Opium imports increased to unprecedented levels. By the end of the nineteenth century, an estimated quarter of the male population of China was addicted to the enhanced opium.
In the United States, many of the early Americans cultivated their own opium. Thomas Jefferson cultivated opium at his garden in Monticello. This fact is generally covered-up by modern historians, who have the politically correct belief that all drugs are bad, even in their harmless natural state, and that prohibition is the only option of a healthy society.
Morphine was first isolated from opium in 1805 by German pharmacist, Wilhelm Sertürner. It was named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. When opium products are taken orally, they are known to cause stomach and digestive disturbances, so the invention of the hypodermic needle in the mid-nineteenth century allowed direct injection of morphine. The poor could not afford to inject drugs, so morphine was used daily by the elite classes, and the cost of opium fell. It was also used extensively on wounded soldiers in the U.S. Civil War. Incredibly, the pharmaceutical companies not only promoted morphine as being non-addictive, but to also cure opium addictions. Missionaries in the early twentieth century handed out “Jesus Opium” pills in order to assist with addictions. The active ingredient was morphine. Of course, this only created greater addictions, which conveniently helped the chemical industry more.
In the mid-nineteenth Century, Chinese immigrants had appeared in the United States in large numbers to help build railways and work with California mines. Opium use had become a part of their culture, and opium, along with the Chinese, were demonized as being destructive to the youth. Dr. John Witherspoon, who would later become president of the American Medical Association (AMA), told allopaths to search for a cure for opium addictions, and a morphine alternative. The alternative was to be non-addictive.
In 1874, an English pharmacist, C. R. Alder Wright had boiled morphine and acetic acid together, producing diacetylmorphine. Diacetylmorphine was synthesized and marketed commercially by the German pharmaceutical giant, Bayer. In 1898, Bayer launched the best-selling drug-brand of all time, Heroin.