The surprising original purpose of heroin

Heroin is now considered to be a dangerous drug that is extremely addictive. However, this wasn't always the case. As explained by the U.N., heroin was originally thought to be a "wonder drug" and got medical experts excited about its potential long-term advantages in the medical field. Doctors were in for a disappointing outcome, however, as it was discovered that the drug was dangerous and its side-effects outweighed any benefits. By then, heroin had become a popular drug of choice and it was a monumental task to stop its usage from spreading further.  

The drug's murky history can be traced to as early as 1874 when it was prepared in St.Mary's Hospital, London. However, doctors took to prescribing it a lot more sometime after 1900. As explained by PBS, the drug was primarily viewed as an alternative to morphine and meant to curtail addiction. Bayer was the first company to commercially market heroin in 1898. They weren't aware how badly this would backfire.

The drug was thought to be a medical wonder

As hard as it is to believe, heroin was well on its way to becoming popular in medicine. An organization called St. James Society even started a campaign to provide free samples to those fighting morphine addiction. Well, suffice to say, addiction to heroin started increasing and things soon got out of hand. 

Heroin started making its presence felt among hipster circles and was rampant in both Harlem's jazz culture and the Beatnik subculture. By the early 1970s, U.S. army men who were stationed in Vietnam were turning to heroin at an alarming rate. Addiction was believed to be at 10 to 15% and was one of the major reasons for former president Richard Nixon's decision to work on strict drug policies and started his public war on drugs. According to VOX, Nixon's decision came in when widespread drug use was a real threat. "If we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely in time destroy us," Nixon said in 1971. "I am not prepared to accept this alternative."