Curing Drugs With Drugs

I found this story from following @HistoryWeird on Twitter. Their post is here. The original source was a "Letter from Dr. Joyce to The Lancet, vol. 1, January 1869".

"The Pharmacy Act, passed by the British parliament in 1868, placed restrictions on the manufacture and sale of deadly poisons and dangerous drugs. One of the main targets of this legislation was opium addiction. Imported opium poppies were cheap and readily available, making opium production a profitable venture for chemists, pharmaceutical companies and backyard operators. But the easy availability of opium had turned thousands of Britons into addicts. Opium-related deaths numbered between 140 and 200 each year. This figure included dozens of babies and infants, who were regularly doped with over-the-counter syrups, cordials and teething gels laced with opium.

"In 1869 Doctor Joyce of Rolvenden wrote to The Lancet, remarking that the withdrawal of opium from the open market was causing its own problems among his opium-eating patients."

He writes:

“The sudden withdrawal of the drug [has] caused overwhelming sickness, complete prostration of body and mind, severe rigours, great loathing of food, an utter inability to sleep, constant purging…”

According to Dr. Joyce, these horrible withdrawal symptoms can be cut way down by prescribing:

…a liberal supply of brandy, the use of suppositories of morphine and the cautious exhibition of Indian hemp [marijuana].”

Because a drunk, stoned baby is a healthy baby! *thumbs up*

If I am not completely mistaken, I remember one of my undergrad professors telling me that morphine was originally made to help aid opium addicts in quitting, but then it became a problem drug in its own right, often far worse than opium. So in order to wean people off morphine, heroin was created. And we all know how well that succeeded.

I have no citation for this, so someone please correct me if I am wrong. I very well may be.

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