Our species utilized the natural forms of opium relatively unchanged for thousands of years until 1806 when German chemist Friedrich Sertürner isolated morphine (named after Morpheus, the god of dreams). Following the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, there were all sorts of newfound junkies running around and the problem of opioid addiction grew too large to continue turning a blind eye towards.
In the early 1900’s Bayer began producing heroin as a safe alternative to morphine (truth’s stranger than fiction, I know). Uncle Sam took an interest over the early part of the 20th century and present-day drug policy was enacted. Over the next 60 years there were two significant spikes in opiate use, both corresponding with times of war. In the 80s opinions begin changing in regard to pain management, creating the perfect storm for Purdue Pharma’s miracle drug Oxycontin. From 1997 to 2002 the this happened: morphine prescriptions increased by 73%, Hydromorphone by 96%, Fentanyl by 226%, and Oxycodone by 402%. Full Article