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Drugs and ThugsThe History and Future of America's War on Drugs$
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Russell Crandall

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300240344

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300240344.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022

Opioid Nation

Opioid Nation

(p.390) 27 Opioid Nation
Drugs and Thugs

Russell Crandall

Yale University Press

This chapter introduces narcotics that have been derived from chemical compounds in poppies and part of the American pharmacopeia since the early nineteenth century. It talks about the United States' first opiate-addiction epidemic that developed in the context of an extensively unregulated market for new compounds, which physicians prescribed for ailments from menstrual cramps to the common cold. It also references how researchers synthesized new opioids, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, with the expectation that these new molecules would prove less habit-forming as federal and state governments cracked down on the runaway market in the early 1900s. The chapter recounts the production of Percocet and Vicodin in the 1970s by combining semisynthetic opiates with acetaminophen, which was considered an elusive quest for a non-addictive painkiller. It mentions how the norm started to shift in the 1980s and 1990s, wherein pain was increasingly described not only as a symptom but as an illness in itself.

Keywords:   narcotics, American pharmacopeia, opioids, habit-forming, semisynthetic opiates, opiate addiction

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