The Transformation of Heroin from a Wonder Drug to an Abused Narcotic
In 1898, the Bayer Company in Germany developed an opium derivative ten times more potent than morphine. This new drug was seen as a wonder drug and to suggest the heroic curative power of this new drug, its creators named it heroin. Heroin has transformed over the years from a prominent pharmaceutical drug to a very addictive and misused drug (Freeman 48).
Heroin initially was available over the counter and was widely prescribed by doctors as treatment for many illnesses. Heroin was perceived to be highly effective in relieving colds, emphysema, asthma, and tuberculosis. Heroin also was used to treat morphine addiction. It soon became apparent that heroin in fact was very addictive and people started to use the drug for their own pleasure instead of for medicinal purposes (Freeman 48).
Heroin was found to be more toxic and habit forming than morphine. Heroin has a greater analgesic and euphoric property per gram than any other narcotic. Heroin gave people a feeling of euphoria even better than opium or morphine. By 1919 nearly a quarter of a million people in the United States were addicted to heroin. The public’s attitude toward narcotic addiction and the addict took a decidedly negative turn. Heroin for the first time was seen as an abusive, misused drug rather than a heroic curative drug it was originally employed to be. The U.S. government, realizing the drug problem, pushed legislation into controlling the use of heroin and other narcotics (Freeman 49).
The Harrison Act of 1914, stated that all narcotics except those prescribed by the medical community were illegal. Even with the passage of this act, illegal heroin use grew, and although the use and manufacture of heroin was outlawed in 1924, the use of heroin is still on the rise. The heroin problem still persists through to the present day regardless of the legislation passed (Freeman 48).
Today heroin abuse exists in nearly every town and city across the country. “From 1988 to 1994 the number of emergency room visits in which heroin was a contributing factor rose nationwide to 64,221 from 38,063,” according to the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration. This is just a microcosm of the heroin problem that faces our society today. Much of the heroin on America’s streets today is smuggled from other parts of the world (Freeman 52).
On Valentines Day, 1988 in Bangkok, winter rains flooded the entire city, turning the city into a miserable swamp. Whitish puddles started to emerge from bundles of sheet rubber. The police ripped open the bundles and seized almost 2,400 pounds of pure China white heroin. This is the largest seizure of heroin uncovered anywhere in the world. The authorities then uncovered a multi billion-dollar syndicate, which stretched throughout the world. This is one of many signs that massive amounts of heroin are being smuggled into the...