Psychology 2020A/B Chapter Notes -Harry J. Anslinger, Chemical Synapse, Ebers Papyrus

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- Opiates are termed ―narcotics‖ from the Greek word
numbness, sleep, or stupor
- Naturally occurring opiates are alkaloids of the poppy plant Papaver
Somniferum (―the poppy that brings sleep‖)
o Annual plant, 3-4 ft in height, large 4-5 inch flowers in red, pink,
white, and purple
o Poppy seeds come from the same plant
o Garden varieties of the poppy plant do not contain psychoactive
- Opiates have been used as analgesics for centuries
- Principle form of opiates for many centuries was opium [before chemists
began changing the form]
o Unrefined, gummy, brown residue that is collected from the opium
poppy seed capsule
o Smoked, or brown residue would be dried and mixed into teas or
- Evidence of medical use of opium 4,000 years ago in Assyrian/Babylonian
- Ebers Papyrus (1300 BC) mentions remedy containing opium to prevent
excessive crying in children
- Evidence of opium smoking pipes 1,000-300 BC
- Scrapping/collecting process involved in production of opium 700 BC
- Poppies on Cyprian vases 100 BC
- Use spread from the Middle East to Europe as a result of the Crusades
(11th & 12th c.)
- 1520: Parcelsus introduced laudanum as a medicinal drink containing
opium, wine, and other spices
- 1680: Thomas Sydenham introduced Sydenham’s Laudanum
- Although opium consumption is commonly associated with China, this
association is from some time in the 18th c., and is mainly the result of
British influence
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- Opium smoking is also called ―chasing the dragon does not seem to
have been extreme until the British started using opium as a form of
payment for Chinese tea
o 1840’s: The Opium Wars
o China lost had to surrender Hong Kong, grant exclusive trading
rights to British merchants, and accept opium as payment for
o 1860: China was forced to legalize opium within its borders
- 1803: Serturner isolated the principle active ingredient in opium and
named it morphium [after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus]
o Term eventually evolved into morphine
- Use of morphine as an analgesic improved in 1856 with the development
of the syringe and hollow needle
- First widespread incidence of opiate addiction = extensive use of
morphine pills and syrup during the American Civil War
o Became known as the ―soldier’s disease‖
o Also widespread use of injected morphine during the Franco-
Prussian war of 1870
- Euphoric properties of opium popularized in Europe by books and poems
- Consumption was almost exclusively in the form of drinking an opium
tonic Smoking was considered an undesirable method
- 1800’s: laudanum and other patent medicines were widespread in the US
- Estimated that over 50,000 patent medicines contained a narcotic by
early 1900’s
o Drinking of patent medicines became common among women and
o Godfrey’s Cordial, A Pennysworth of Peace, Mrs. Winslow’s
Soothing Syrup
o Typical user white, middle to upper class female, 30-50 years
o Female users outnumbered male users as much as 3 to 1
o Many anti-alcohol crusaders were regular users of opium-
containing patent medicines
o Late 1800’s: 250,000-750,000 opiate dependent people in the US
o Now: 600,000 [but the population is 4x what it was in the 1800’s]
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- Cultivation of opium poppies was not outlawed until 1942
- In late 1800’s and early 1900’s, sentiment against opium was mainly
directed towards opium smoking, while it was mostly being drunk at the
- Due to economic reasons and racial prejudice, sentiment turned against
opium in general
- (US) Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 did not outlaw opiate use; simply
required that physicians prescribing opiates keep detailed records and
pay a small fee
- Courts (pressured by Harry Anslinger) ruled that opiate addiction was not
a medical condition, and doctors could not prescribe opiates just to ward
off withdrawal
- 1907: visit by anti-Chinese crusader set off full-scale riot in Vancouver
o Mackenzie King dispatched to investigate
o He was approached by several Chinese businessmen seeking
compensation for damage to their opium importing and
manufacturing business
o Existence of such enterprises surprised King Introduced a report
suggesting that the opium trade be banned
o 3 main reasons for this ban:
Trade violated Christian beliefs.
Chinese were making huge profits in the trade.
Use was increasing among Caucasian men and women.
o King failed to include any discussion of harmful physical effects,
and provided no medical evidence that opium smoking was harmful
- King’s report eventually led to the passage of the first drug legislation in
Canada 1908 Opium Act
o Made it illegal to import, manufacture, or sell opium for non-
medical purposes
o Possession or use was not made illegal
- 1911 Opium Act
o Made possession a crime
o Expanded police powers of search and seizure
o Made cocaine an illegal substance
- 1920’s ushered in a period of intense moral crusading against drug use
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