Opiates have been traced back since the earliest years of civilization in Ancient Mesopotamia. It was for recreational use and for medicinal uses like a pain reliever during the 1800s. Heroin was also made for medicinal uses as well before its addictive qualities were discovered. Through the history of opiates, you will learn that something that is first made for medicinal uses could spiral into an addiction.

What is opium?

Opium comes from an opium poppy flower around 3,400 BC. The Ancient Sumerians referred to these flowers as joy plants. They were cultivated in Ancient Greece, Persia, and Egypt. Opiates flourished in Egypt under King Tut around 1333-1324 BC and was referenced in Homer’s The Odyssey. It was known to help people sleep, relieve pain, and even stop children from crying. It was used as anesthesia during surgery and recreationally. In China and East Asia in 6th or 7th century AD, opiates were in trade along Silk Road which connected Europe to Central Asia, India, and China.

What happened during the Opium Wars?

In the 1700s, the British empire conquered the poppy-growing region of India and smuggled opium from India to China through the East India Company. Great Britain used the profits to buy and export tea, silk, porcelain, and other Chinese luxuries back to Europe. Opiate addiction rose in China which led the Qing Dynasty to outlaw importation and cultivation. The first Opium Wars started when two armed conflicts followed China to suppress opium from border and the British would keep trafficking routes open. The Chinese lost and European powers gained commercial privileges and land concessions. This forced the Chinese to keep ports in Shanghai, Canton, and others for trade.

The second Opium War occurred when the British and French were against China to make the opium trade legal. Europe, China, and others felt the opium wars were a villainous and immoral use of military power as well as a “century of humiliation.”

What was the history of morphine?

Morphine was a very powerful painkiller in 1803 by German scientist Friedrich Sertürner and an active narcotic ingredient in opium. Morphine was considered to be ten times more powerful than opiates. It was widely used as a painkiller during the Civil War and 400,000 soldiers became addicted. In 1874, English chemist Alder Wright refined heroin from a morphine base to make it less addictive and a safer replacement.

Located in downtown Midland, The Springboard Center’s mission is to offer programs and services to treat alcohol and drug addiction treatment using an evidence based curriculum, 12 step programs, diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual development for a long recovery. For more information, please call us at 432-620-0255 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.