Tag Archives: Drug Abuse

The History of Cocaine: From Medicinal Use to Illicit Drug

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that has a long and complicated history. It has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, but also became a widely abused drug in the 20th century. The story of cocaine is one that involves both the benefits and the dangers of this substance.

The history of cocaine use dates back to the ancient Incan civilization in South America. The Incas chewed coca leaves to alleviate hunger and fatigue, and also used it as a spiritual aid during rituals. In the 16th century, Spanish colonizers discovered the use of coca leaves among the Incas and brought the plant back to Europe.

Coca leaves were used in Europe for medicinal purposes, including as a local anesthetic and a treatment for a range of ailments such as toothaches, headaches, and digestive issues. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the active ingredient in coca leaves, cocaine, was isolated and studied by scientists.

In 1855, a German chemist named Friedrich Gaedcke isolated the active ingredient in coca leaves and named it cocaine. Soon after, other scientists began to study the properties of cocaine and its potential medicinal uses. In the late 19th century, cocaine became widely used as a local anesthetic in dentistry and surgery, as well as a treatment for various other medical conditions.

However, cocaine’s addictive properties soon became apparent. By the early 20th century, cocaine abuse had become a significant problem, particularly among artists and intellectuals in Europe and the United States. The drug was also increasingly associated with crime, as people turned to cocaine as a way to stay awake and focused for extended periods of time.

In the early 1900s, governments began to take action to control the use of cocaine. The US government passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act in 1914, which required anyone who manufactured, imported, or sold cocaine to register and pay a tax. The law effectively made it illegal to use cocaine without a prescription.

Despite these efforts, cocaine continued to be abused throughout the 20th century. In the 1980s, a surge in cocaine use in the United States led to a public health crisis. Cocaine was widely available and used by people from all walks of life, from Wall Street executives to inner-city youth. The drug was associated with violence, crime, and addiction.

Today, cocaine is a controlled substance in most countries, and its use is highly regulated. However, the drug continues to be abused and is a significant public health issue. Cocaine addiction is a chronic and relapsing condition that can have severe physical and psychological consequences. It can cause damage to the heart, lungs, and brain, and lead to a range of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

In conclusion, the history of cocaine is a complex and multifaceted one. While the drug has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, its addictive properties have made it a significant public health issue. The story of cocaine highlights the need for continued research into the effects of drugs on the brain and body, as well as the importance of effective drug policies and addiction treatment programs.


Drug Overdose Deaths Skyrocketed to Record Levels Amid Pandemic Lockdowns, New CDC Data Show

While the actual public health benefits of lockdowns are unclear, the deadly unintended consequences they caused are painfully obvious.

By Brad Polumbo (via FEE)

With each day that passes, the number of lives lost in COVID-19-related deaths continues to tragically grow. However, in a less noticed but equally important trend, we continue to gain insight into the countless deaths caused by lockdown measures intended to stop the virus’s spread.

The latest entry into this tragic account is a new data set showing drug overdose deaths skyrocketed in 2020 amid the height of pandemic lockdowns.

“New data shows that more Americans died of drug overdoses in the year leading to September 2020 than any 12-month period since the opioid epidemic began,” Axios reports. “The stubborn increase of such ‘deaths of despair’ shows that the opioid epidemic still has room to grow and that some of the social distancing steps we took to rein in the pandemic may have brought deadly side effects.”

Released this week by the Centers for Disease Control, the figures show that at least 87,000 people died from overdoses from October 2019 to September 2020. This amounts to a 29 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. 

Image Credit: Axios

How do we know pandemic lockdowns are largely to blame?

Well, this measured period includes spring and summer 2020, the two periods in the pandemic to date where lockdowns were strictest and most widespread. And, Axios reports, “While overdose deaths from drugs had begun rising in the months leading to the pandemic… the biggest spike in deaths occurred in April and May 2020, when shutdowns were strictest.” (Emphasis mine).

Meanwhile, studies show that people used more drugs during the pandemic and were more likely to use alone—increasing the risk of deadly overdoses. These trends are clearly driven more by the isolation, despair, and loneliness of pandemic lockdowns than the virus itself.

Of course, more people overdosing on drugs isn’t at all what proponents of strict pandemic lockdowns wanted. In most cases, they sincerely wanted to protect people. But good intentions don’t guarantee good results, and sweeping government action is a blunt hammer that’s always going to hit more than just the nail it’s aimed at.

“Lawmakers should be keenly aware that every human action has both intended and unintended consequences,” FEE’s Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan have explained. “Human beings react to every rule, regulation, and order governments impose, and their reactions result in outcomes that can be quite different than the outcomes lawmakers intended. So while there is a place for legislation, that place should be one defined by both great caution and tremendous humility.”

Sweeping, unprecedented government lockdowns were anything but cautious and humble. And while the actual public health benefits of lockdowns are unclear, the deadly unintended consequences they caused are painfully obvious.

WATCH: SENATE TESTIMONY: Child Suicide & Lethal Lockdown Consequences