An estimated two million people abused opiates during the Civil War, after using drugs disseminated by healthcare providers, doctors and nurses to stem pain
For many Americans, it was the prescription of a well-meaning physician that sent them down the dark road.
White House says true cost of opioid drug epidemic in 2015 was $504bn
Aggressive marketing and over-prescribing of painkillers touched off a scourge of opiate addiction and Congress, pushed by the destruction it had wrought, introduced a new law to reform painkiller prescribing.
It was 1915 and Congress was considering what would become the first law to criminalize drug use, the Harrison Narcotic Act. By this time, addiction had already touched middle-class housewives, immigrants, veterans and even physicians hoping to soothe their own aches and pains. Between the 1870s and 1880s, America’s per capita consumption of opiates had tripled.
More than a century later, Americans are fighting some of the same demons.