America's first cocaine epidemic.Cocaine: It's as seductive as it is destructive. And, for more than a century, Americans have alternately embraced and rejected the substance known at various times as bouncing powder, candy, star dust and snow.
Every U.S. president since Richard Nixon has declared war on drugs. While the crisis is far from over.
But this epidemic is not the nation's first dalliance with cocaine. Dr. David Musto, a professor of psychiatry and the history of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine The primary teaching hospital for the school is Yale-New Haven Hospital. The school is home to the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, one of the largest modern medical libraries, also known for its historical collections. in New Haven, Conn., calls the period from the 1880s to the 1920s America's first great cocaine epidemic. That epidemic had three phases, he says: "The introduction, as cocaine rapidly gained acceptance; a middle period, when its use spread and its ill effects came to light; and a final, repressive stage after the turn of the century, when cocaine became the most feared of all illicit drugs."
For more than 5,000 years, the native peoples of Andean South America have chewed coca leaves to alleviate hunger and dispel fatigue. Nineteenth-century scientists took an interest in coca and its energizing energizing,
adj giving energy to; revitalizing; rejuvenating. properties. The alkaloid cocaine, the chief ingredient chief ingredient (chēf in·grēˑ·dē· in the leaves of the shrub Erythroxylon coca, was isolated in 1860 by a pharmacologist in Germany.
Several years later, Dr. Theodor Aschenbrandt, while serving in his reserve training unit in the Bavarian army, administered a solution of cocaine and water to an exhausted soldier who had collapsed during a march. Within five minutes, according to the doctor, the soldier "cheerfully" resumed the exercise.
The following year, Aschenbrandt's paper on his cocaine experiments caught the attention of a Viennese neurologist. Sigmund Freud subsequently became a champion of cocaine, describing it as "a magical drug." He enthusiastically encouraged family, friends and colleagues to use it. Later, Freud's biographer, Dr. Ernest Jones, wrote: "... from the vantage point of our present knowledge, he [Freud] was rapidly becoming a public menace."
At about the same time, cocaine--a central nervous system stimulant known for its numbing effects, particularly on the tongue and mucous membranes--became standard treatment for eye disorders and the most common local anesthetic local anesthetic
An agent that, when applied directly to mucous membranes or when injected about the nerves, produces loss of sensation by inhibiting nerve excitation or conduction. for minor surgery and dentistry.
By the time Freud published the first of his five papers on cocaine, the substance had already gained popularity in the United States and became readily available from drug and grocery stores, saloons and patent-medicine vendors.
Some doctors believed cocaine reduced the cravings of opiate opiate /opi·ate/ (o´pe-it)
1. any drug derived from opium.
2. hypnotic (2).
1. addicts and alcoholics. "In America, where the cocaine fad would reach greater heights than in Europe, the ability to cure opiate addictions was regarded as one of cocaine's marvelous powers," says Musto, author of The American Disease (Oxford University Press, 1987), a book on the origins of narcotic control. "Cocaine seemed to increase alertness and efficiency, much-prized values in the industrializing nation."
Encouraged by the nation's leading medical authorities, and because there were no laws restricting the sale, consumption or advertising of cocaine, entrepreneurs quickly made the drug an elixir elixir /elix·ir/ (e-lik´ser) a clear, sweetened, alcohol-containing, usually hydroalcoholic liquid containing flavoring substances and sometimes active medicinal ingredients.
n. for the masses.
Due to its ability to shrink mucous membranes Mucous membranes
The inner tissue that covers or lines body cavities or canals open to the outside, such as nose and mouth. These membranes secrete mucus and absorb water and salts.
Mentioned in: Leprosy, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Topical Anesthesia and drain the sinuses, cocaine was an ingredient in a number of over-the-counter medications used to treat asthma, hay fever hay fever, seasonal allergy causing inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose and eyes. It is characterized by itching about the eyes and nose, sneezing, a profuse watery nasal discharge, and tearing of the eyes. and sinusitis sinusitis
Inflammation of the sinuses. Acute sinusitis, usually due to infections such as the common cold, causes localized pain and tenderness, nasal obstruction and discharge, and malaise. . Cocaine, which produces a feeling of euphoria, also was touted as a panacea for such 19th-century maladies as melancholia MELANCHOLIA, med. jur. A name given by the ancients to a species of partial intellectual mania, now more generally known by the name of monomania. (q.v.) It bore this name because it was supposed to be always attended by dejection of mind and gloomy ideas. Vide Mania., , neuralgia neuralgia (nrăl`jə, ny–), acute paroxysmal pain along a peripheral sensory nerve. , catarrh catarrh /ca·tarrh/ (kah-tahr´) inflammation of a mucous membrane, particularly of the head and throat, with free discharge of mucus.catar´rhal
n. , hysteria and nervous afflictions.
One of the most popular medicinal tonics was Vin Mariani, a concoction of coca leaves and Bordeaux wine, first produced in 1863. Its success inspired a number of imitators. In 1885, John Styth Pemberton registered a trademark for French Wine Coca--Ideal Nerve and Tonic Stimulant. That name never really caught on, and a year later Pemberton was calling his "intellectual beverage," which contained a minute amount of cocaine, Coca-Cola.
Cocaine continued to be used widely during the Gay Nineties--a decade of hedonism hedonism (hē`dənĭz'əm) [Gr.,=pleasure], the doctrine that holds that pleasure is the highest good. Ancient hedonism expressed itself in two ways: the cruder form was that proposed by Aristippus and the early Cyrenaics, who believed and creativity. Vin Mariani moved from the medicine cabinet to salons and cafes. References to cocaine showed up in popular literature. Perhaps the most famous literary character to use cocaine was Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. There is speculation that Robert Louis Stevenson, who had tuberculosis, wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde under the influence of cocaine, which was commonly used to treat the lung disease.
By 1890, reports of cocaine addiction were becoming common in the medical literature. Yet, it would still be several years before laws restricting the drug were enacted. "The deleterious effects of long-term narcotic use were obvious by the turn of the century, and physicians were becoming warier of recommending cocaine," says Dr. Ramunas Kondratas, curator in the division of medical sciences at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History The National Museum of American History is a museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution and located in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall. It opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology and adopted its current name in 1980. in Washington, D.C. In addition, he says, the late 19th and early 20th century heralded the era of bacteriology bacteriology
Study of bacteria. Modern understanding of bacterial forms dates from Ferdinand Cohn's classifications. Other researchers, such as Louis Pasteur, established the connection between bacteria and fermentation and disease. . "With advances in serums and vaccines, physicians were able to prescribe specific medications for more illnesses. Cocaine was no longer viewed as a cure-all."
A report issued in 1903 by the Commission on the Acquisition of the Drug Habit declared that cocaine, once favored by upper-class professionals, was being used mostly by "bohemians, gamblers, prostitutes, burglars, racketeers, and pimps." As use of cocaine increased so did abuse. Chronic abuse led to paranoid delusions, insomnia, malnutrition and nasal septum ulcerations Ulcerations
Breaks in skin or mucous membranes that are often accompanied by loss of tissue on the surface.
Mentioned in: Hypersplenism .
Cocaine became a target of the temperance crusade. In a move that reflected growing suspicion of the drug, Coca-Cola dropped cocaine as an ingredient in 1903.
The first congressional attempt to affect the consumption of cocaine in the United States came in 1906 with the Pure Food and Drug Act This is an article about the United States Food and Drug Act; for the Canadian version see Food and Drugs Act. For the band see Pure Food and Drug Act (band).
The Pure Food and Drug Act . "That act merely required labelling of any cocaine content in over-the-counter remedies," Musto says. More legislation followed. "By the beginning of World War I, all 48 states had anticocaine laws on the books."
In 1914, the journal Medical Record reported: "There is no such thing as an occasional or moderate cocaine user. The line is very sharply drawn between the total abstainer and the fiend...." That same year, the nation's first major antinarcotic law--the Harrison Act--was passed. In the act, cocaine was classified as a narcotic, along with opium, morphine and heroin, which are central nervous system depressants Central Nervous System Depressants Definition
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants are drugs that can be used to slow down brain activity.
From the early 1930s to the late '60s, recreational use of cocaine was nearly non-existent in the United States. During this time, references to cocaine rarely appeared in movies, music and literature. When they did, the drug was almost always portrayed negatively. In Cab Calloway's 1931 song "Minnie, the Moocher mooch Slang
v. mooched, mooch·ing, mooch·es
1. To obtain or try to obtain by begging; cadge. See Synonyms at cadge.
2. To steal; filch.
1. ," Minnie may have been a "low-down hoochy coocher," but her worst problems were realized when she took up with a "cokey" named Smokey. It didn't take long for Smokey and Minnie to wind up in the county jail. And it wasn't too long after that "poor old Min" was "kickin' up daisies."
The public's attitude toward all drugs wasn't just indifferent during this period, according to Musto--it was downright antagonistic. "Antidrug laws increased in severity well into the 1950s," he says. "Draconian penalties against narcotics faced little opposition during this era of durg intolerance." Although some Americans continued to use cocaine, their numbers dwindled. Personal knowledge of a "dope fiend" was unusual for the vast majority of Americans during the 1950s.
"The people who had lived through the nation's first cocaine epidemic knew that the euphoria induced by the drug was a dangerous delusion," Musto says. "When cocaine reappeared in the 1970s, few people remembered the previous American experience, because the earlier generations that had learned a hard lesson about cocaine were no longer around. Cocaine's notorious reputation died with them. By the '70s, America was ready for another fling with this most seductive and dangerous drug."