The abuse of prescription painkillers and drug abuse is not a new phenomenon. This is problem that has existed for thousands of years. In the decades and centuries following its discovery, opium was used for both medicinal and recreational purposes throughout the world, including Egypt, India, and Greek, Roman, Persian and Arab Empires.
In the 15th century, China began to use opium recreationally, under the misguided notion that opium could provide longevity and a more vigorous sex life. Shortly thereafter, opium smoking in tobacco pipes became a symbol of luxury and wealth in China, influencing infamous opium dens across the country, and around the world. In 1895, Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company, produced heroin with the intention of it being a less addictive form of morphine. It was offered as an over-the-counter drug for a short time until it was discovered that heroin was absorbed faster and was more addicting than morphine. By 1900 Opium, morphine, heroin and cocaine in wide use in over-the-counter medicines made by a pharmacist or a manufacturer In 1905, the US banned opium. The first national drug law was the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which required accurate labeling of patent medicines containing opium and certain other drugs.
Supreme Court decisions made it illegal for doctors to prescribe any narcotic to addicts; many doctors who prescribed maintenance doses as part of an addiction treatment plan were jailed, and soon all attempts at treatment were abandoned and the use of narcotics and cocaine diminished significantly by the 1920s. The spirit of temperance led to the prohibition of alcohol by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1919, but Prohibition was repealed in 1933.
In the 40’s 50’s 60’s and 70’s , various drug laws and regulations are passed. Yet derivatives of opium are used has medication. Morphine, heroin, codeine and methadone are all highly addictive derivatives of opium that were extracted and/or created with the intention of each being less harmful and addictive than its predecessor. All four substances are now considered among the most highly abused and addictive drugs available in the world. Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet are commonly prescribed synthetic opiates that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration,
The use of prescription pain relievers, stimulants, sedatives and tranquilizers in an abusive manner continues. Current trends show younger people, including teenagers, are becoming addicted to these prescription medications, as well as elderly patients. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of people abusing prescription drugs increased from just under 600,000 in 1990 to 2.5 million in 2000.