Medical Cocaine – A Brief History
Cocaine is a man-made, synthesized drug derived from the coca plant native to South America. Originally created in 1855, it was not widely recognized for medicinal value for at least 30 years. It’s first major exposure to the public came when a man named John Pemberton created a soft drink called Coca Cola. Cocaine being a primary ingredient, its energizing effects help make the product a household name. Despite the fact that cocaine has long since been removed from the product (1903), legal use of medical cocaine is partially responsible for Coca Cola’s enduring success.
Along with opium, cocaine-laced drinks were widely used until the early 1900’s. In fact, Thomas Edison was among the famous and regarded who extolled the virtues of cocaine. Other proponents of the drug were Sigmund Freud and the film stars of the day. Tonics containing both opiates and cocaine were administered without much thought. The dangers of either drug were not fully understood or recognized at the time.
Medical cocaine, as used for such purposes did not garner much attention or concern. However, it wasn’t long before people started realizing its addictive properties. Habitual users became more common. and obvious side effects became apparent. These included insomnia, nervousness/edginess and loss of appetite. Hallucinations and delusions also materialized in some cases. Then, withdrawal effects including depression and suicidal ideations were often the result of abrupt drug cessation.
As cocaine’s usage and effects gradually become well-known, Coca Cola faced pressure to adapt its ingredients. By 1920 cocaine was considered a illicit and dangerous narcotic.
Medical Cocaine via Pharmacy
In the 1880s, Merck promoted cocaine as a suitable treatment for morphine addiction. Many civil war soldiers had been treated with this drug and encountered addiction. In 1884, an associate of Sigmund Freud, Kark Koller, discovered that cocaine’s numbing effects and blood vessel restricting properties. This appeared to greatly assist during eye surgery.
In addition to pharmaceutical applications, cocaine was also available over the counter in a variety of preparations. These include toothache pain relievers, Coca Wine for fatigue, and voice “tabloids”. The latter were used to relieve throat irritation and help smooth the voices of singers.
During this tine, Parke Davis technicians developed a cocaine refining system, which partially took place on South Americans sites. This increased the potency of the product, as properties of coca leaves would no longer be lost during shipping. In 1887, The United States Surgeon General indicated cocaine for depression, and denied that it was addictive.
The Demise of Medical Cocaine
A New York surgeon named William Halsted began testing the anesthetic power of the drug. He quickly discovered the truth the hard way when after injecting cocaine, and became a full-fledged addict. He was subsequently treated with morphine, and remained an addict to the opiate for the rest of his life.
Both Freud and his associates also had run-ins with cocaine, and even Dr. Freud eventually quit it after using regularly for several years. His addiction had caused the near-death of a patient, and he was forced to admit its potentially hazardous effects. Almost two decades later, cocaine was finally recognized as a controlled substance.
The Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914 included cocaine, which made the drug illegal for possession or use.
Medicinal Cocaine Today
Cocaine is still used medically today on a limited basis. Under the name cocaine hydrochloride, is prescribed for a local anesthetic for specific ear, eye, and throat surgeries. It is used effectively to numb the areas.
If you or someone you know is an addict, please seek help immediately.