Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver Somniferum). Agricultural workers cut (score) the immature seed pods, which makes the latex leak out. It then dries into opium. The following is the opium timeline.
Opium Poppy was grown throughout Switzerland, Germany, and Spain. Later finds were in the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
First known cultivation of opium poppies in Mesopotamia, by Sumerians. They called it the “joy plant”
Opium appeared to have ritual significance. Anthropologists have speculated ancient priests may have used the drug as a proof of healing power.
Egyptian society restricted magicians, priests, and warriors from using opium. Isis treated Ra’s headache with opium.
The Assyrians collected poppy juice in the morning after scoring the pods with an iron scoop.
Egyptians begin cultivation of opium. The opium trade flourishes during the reign of Thutmose IV, Akhenaton, and King Tutankhamen. The opium trade finds its way to Greece, Carthage, and Europe.
In various statues and pictures, Minoan and Greek gods are often holding or wreathed in poppy pods.
Cyprus harvests opium.
The Odyssey by Homer describes opium as a cure for Telemachus’ depression after failing to find Odysseus.
Hippocrates dismisses the magical attributes of opium but underlines its effects as a medicine.
Galen of Pergamon, Greek physician, surgeon, and philosopher in the Roman Empire notes how opium “cures epilepsy, asthma, leprosies.”
Al-Zahrawi, known as the father of surgery, describes opium as a surgical anesthetic.
During the Holy Inquisition, opium disappears from the European historical record because anything coming from the East was linked to the Devil.
A medicine called Laudanum was a solution of opium in ethanol.
Residents of Persia and India begin eating and drinking opium mixtures for recreational use. In China, people smoked opium with tobacco. The Chinese society recognizes addiction for the first time.
Chinese emperor, Yung Cheng issues an edict prohibiting the smoking of opium and its domestic sale, except under license for use as medicine.
Friedrich Sertuerner of Paderborn first dissolves opium in acid, then neutralizing it with ammonia, discovered morphine. He called it “God’s own medicine” for its reliability, long-lasting effects, and safety.
U.S. Congress imposes a tax on opium and morphine. “Anti-drug” campaigns start.
U.S. Congress passes the Pure Food and Drug Act requiring labeling by pharmaceutical companies. As a result, the availability of opiates and their consumption declines significantly.
Opiates cause 47,055 (63%) of drug overdose deaths in the US alone.