When you think of the word "drug" what comes to mind? For most Americans that were born within the last fifty years the most common answers are cocaine, heroin and LSD. These drugs carry very negative connotations and nationwide campaigns have labled them as dangerous and deadly. What most people don't know is that these drugs started off like most other pharmaceuticals. They were cutting edge treatments of their time but lost credibility when competing drugs were developed. Much like prescription drugs that are popular today, these drugs were the Oxycontin and Morphine of their time.
One of the most well-known and feared drugs in the world, cocaine ironically debuted as a treatment for morphine addiction. The drug, derived from the "coca" leaf of South America, was also a useful anesthetic and was used minimally in early formulations of the drink Coca-Cola. The drugs was used in combination with wine and in cigarette form during the late 1800's. In WWII, the German army used the drug to "pep up" their troops, giving them the extra energy they needed during wartime.
One of the pricier "street drugs" and a stronger form of morphine, heroin was used to treat severe and addiction. The drug remains legal to some degree in the UK and Australia but is highly addictive, causes chronic constipation and contributes to the spread of certain diseases such as AIDS. In the early 1900's it was actually distributed as a cough suppressant by Bayer until they realized it was much more addicting than morphine, causing Bayer to quickly take it off the shelves.
Originally developed to help stop abnormal bleeding, Ecstasy has become the dance party drug of choice for ravers worldwide. The drug was set to be rpime competition for Bayer until is was discovered to have pyschotropic effects on patients. The drug proved to be useful in therapy, allowing the patient to be more self-aware. Even when the drug became illegal inthe early 80's some doctors continued to use it. While short-term use proved fruitful, long-term use resulted in increased depression and anxiety.
Like Ecstasy, LSD was used to enhance psychotherapy and increase the self-awareness of the subject. The only drawback was the hallucinations that accompanied increased dosage. Even at very small dosages the effects were stronger than drugs of a similar class. LSD, unlike other drugs, was developed and marketed fairly recently in 1943 but lasted only until 1968 in the United States. The drug is currently sparking interest once again as an end-of-life therapy for those with terminal illness.
This drug really shouldn't be on this list since it actually is a prescribed drug under the name of Xyrem in the United States. The drug is used to treat narcolepsy, cataplexy, and alcoholism in rare cases. The drug is an aphrodisiac and causes euphorie in those who take it. While it has never been a widely accepted drug in the U.S. it was commonly used as a sleep aid in European countries. Like many of the other durgs on this list, GHB was edged out by increasing competitions of other newer drugs thus making it into a popular "street drug".
America's #1 choice and one of the safest of this group, cannabis AKA marijuana has a long list of uses that include relieving symptoms of nausea in cancer patients, helping with anxiety and treating glaucoma. Cannabis has a much lower incidence of withdrawal, less addictive properties, and is rarely lethal. Some studies have shown increased irritability when stopping the drug. Unfortunately, marijuana has been labeled a "gateway drug" and, in recent years, joined the ranks of heroin and cocaine due to "drug free" propaganda.
Like GHB and cannabis, methamphetamine (meth) is not a completely illegal substance. The drug is currently a treatment for ADHD in the United States and goes by the name of Desoxyn. It is also prescribed for narcolepsy and depression but has also been associated with depression and suicide. Long term abuse typically results in schizophrenic behavior, loss of teeth (Meth mouth), and acne.