It Began With The Inhaler

Amphetamines were first synthesized in 1887, but it took the invention of the bronchial inhaler by Smith, Kline and French in 1927 to really kickstart their use. People soon discovered than when soaked in water, coffee or alcohol, the humble inhaler made an intensely powerful brew. This little trick spawned a host of products with "brain" or "pep", cheap and easy pick-me-ups for a population trying to keep up with the rapid industrialization of the Western world. Thus began a relentless commercial exploitation that would last over 50 years.


Pep Pills

In 1946, amphetamines were the number one prescribed medicine for 39 different ailments, including seasickness, migraine, impotence, weight-loss and fatigue. Most amphetamine-based cures were available over the counter until 1956, when the UK government, after news of rampant addiction in Japan, made them prescription only. just inhale However, there was one exception: the bronchial inhaler, which is still for sale, not just in chemists but any and every shop. Thousands of users who needed to salve their addictions took to buying the inhalers, as it contained hundreds of times more amphetamine than the pills. Sales skyrocketed.


C Is For Craving

Pharmaceutical giants soon muscled in on the act. By 1900, German giant Merck (who, incidentally, also synthesized MDMA or Ecstasy) was producing over 1.5 tons a year of pure cocaine hydrochloride. Meanwhile, their US competitor, Parke Davis (developers of ketamine and PCP) was marketing its brands as a substance that could "make the coward brave, and the silent eloquent". The flipside of cocaine use, however, was beginning to be noticed. Some users were getting into trouble. Occasional users seemed to be okay, but chronic heavy users were experiencing cocaine addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and psychosis back to top


The Golden Era of Cocaine

the real thing For a substance as illegal as cocaine, it's interesting to note that it also had its so-called "Golden Era". That was when a number of products containing varying amounts of cocaine were sold commercially-and legally. One of the most famous cocaine products was Vin Mariani, the first of many cocaine-based wines. Jules Verne, who wrote Around The World In 80 Days, drank it; Louis Bleriot had a bottle in his cockpit during his strangely-accelerated flight across the English Channel. Bartholidi, the architect responsible for the Statue of Liberty, declared:


Cocaine, Leg Warmers & Drug Wars

If LSD was the 60s and Ecstasy was the 90s, the drug that characterized the 80s was undoubtedly cocaine. The memories and cultural achievements of the decade taste forgot should be enough evidence to stop coke use forever. Here are a few: deedy boppers, Duran Duran, shellsuits, perms, leg warmers, estate agents - the list is endless. Cocaine use hit its peak in the US in 1985 with over 5.7 million users (nearly 3% of the population) using cocaine at least "once every month".


Cocaine Medicine

Before the West came to South America, the coca bush was highly revered by its indigenous population as a "divine plant". The Incas used its leaves as currency. The Peruvians chewed them as fuel for high altitude treks and measured their journeys in "cicadas" - the time between doses of coca. In the 16th century, the Spaniards came and tried to eradicate its unholy use. They, however, learned their native slaves wouldn't work without it. It took until the mid-19th century for the industrialized West to get a taste of Peru's 4,000-year-old secret, as German pediatrician Albert Niemann extracted cocaine hydrochloride from coca leaves in 1860.


Ecstasy Therapy

the first nibble Before smileys, glow sticks and Mitsubishis, before raves and techno, Ecstasy had a lengthy, respected, and legal career as a psychotherapeutic drug. MDMA had been chanced upon by the German pharmaceutical company Merck in 1912 (they also extracted cocaine from coca leaves around the same time). It was patented but since it had no obvious use it soon disappeared off the radar. Contrary to rumors, it was not developed as a diet pill. healing the mind In 1965, the American biochemist Alexander Shulgin rediscovered Ecstasy while searching for psychotherapeutic drugs.


Heroin History

Heroin, like cocaine, tobacco and most illegal recreational drugs, began life as a 'wonder cure'. In 1900, the German pharmaceutical company Bayer came up with the brand name, Heroin, after heroisch, a German word for something with a pronounced effect even in small doses. It was used enthusiastically all over the world to treat respiratory diseases and even to combat morphine addiction, despite being twice as habit-forming itself. addictive Gradually however people began to notice heroin wasn't quite so wonderful. Patients tended to become highly addicted very quickly with pronounced withdrawal symptoms if the drug was taken away.


Opium Dreams

Before heroin, there was opium, which is almost as old as civilization itself. As early as 1600BC, the Egyptians were using opium to calm crying infants. Over 2000 years later, the Victorians invented Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup, an opiate-laden elixir which ensured that children remained seen but not heard. Ancient civilizations were well aware of opium's habit-forming qualities but it took a long time for Western medicine to learn from the ancestors. The Chinese suffered the most. When Portuguese traders sold pipes and tobacco from South America alongside opium from the Middle East, 18th century Chinese society got into opium-smoking in a big way, in plague-sized proportions.


Where Does Ketamine Come From?

Like LSD, MDMA (Ecstasy) and its close chemical cousin PCP, Ketamine is a product of twentieth century pharmacy, and to this day a healthy revenue source for 'big medicine'. Ketamine was discovered in 1961 by Dr. Cal Stevens of Wayne State University. The pharmaceutical giant Parke-Davis (now Pfizer) funded its development as an alternative anesthetic to Phencyclidine or PCP. angel dust Now no longer made, PCP (or 'Angel Dust') gained a bad reputation thanks to its unpredictable and frightening side-effects, such as psychotic aggression. Smoking PCP got James Brown in hot water, as he was caught speeding and waving a gun around in South Carolina.


LSD Accident

The discovery of LSD was pretty much an accident, and it happened on Friday, April 16, 1943, in Basle, Switzerland. For eight years, chemist Prof Albert Hofmann had been methodically synthesizing new molecules from ergot, a fungus which grows on diseased rye. Ergot had an intriguing contradictory reputation. On the one hand, it was highly-regarded in folk medicine for speeding up the contractions during childbirth. On the other, it was the cause of St. Anthony's Fire, a horrific scourge that had blighted entire Medieval villages with gangrene, madness and death when it infected their grain stores. back to top


LSD Cure

the miracle cure In the 1950s drug therapy was in its infancy. There was no Prozac, no anti-depressants, no anti-psychotic drugs. But then came LSD, a drug that appeared to open up emotions, dissolve defenses, and make available much of the unconscious. It could cure alcoholics and cure mental illness. It was cheap and easy to make. It looked like another "miracle cure". Sandoz, keen to make a profit from Prof. Hoffman's bizarre discovery, trade-named Delysid and began sending samples out to psychiatric researchers. back to top


The Banker & The Mushroom Gods

the mushroom gods Psychedelic mushrooms have been around as long as humanity. The Incas called them teonanactl or 'flesh of the gods'. The Aztecs considered them divine and referred to a trip as "the flowery dream". Prehistoric Saharan tribes painted mushroom-headed figures on cave walls. Siberian shamans fed their reindeer fly agaric mushrooms and then drank their urine to journey to the spirit world. They would also drink each other's urine, and the mushroom could be passed through the bodies of half a dozen people before their potency was lost.


Tune in, Drop Acid, And Get Arrested

After their discovery in 1955, magic mushrooms remained the domain of middle-class botanists and adventurers who hightailed it to Mexico to follow R. Gordon Wasson's trail Meanwhile, Swiss biochemist Albert Hoffman, the creator of LSD, was studying the mushrooms in his lab and was soon to isolate the stable active ingredient, psilocybin. By 1958, his company, Sandoz, was sending out little pink pills of psilocybin to curious psychologists and therapists all over the world. the high priest One such package arrived on the doorstep of Harvard psychology professor Timothy Leary.


Heroin Is Harmless

At a hearing to determine the future of heroin on April 3rd 1924, a congressional committee heard evidence from many expert witnesses. The US surgeon general of the time, Rupert Blue, declared heroin "poisonous" and said it caused insanity. Dana Hubbard of the New York City health department concluded: "Heroin addicts spring from sin and crime...Society in general must protect itself from the influence of evil, and there is no greater peril than heroin" Unsurprisingly, the US banned heroin on the spot. Shortly afterwards they embarked on a worldwide campaign to eradicate this evil. Thus began the "War On Drugs". Problem was, nothing said at the hearing was true.