How heroin went from a doctor's cure to the world's most dangerous drug

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Heroin is classified as one of the world's most dangerous drug because of it's highly addictive properties.

But did you know the drug was originally developed as an alternative to morphine and sold in drug stores?

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Heroin was originally developed out of the sap from the opium poppy. The components were discovered by the British scientist Charles Romley Alder Wright in 1874. He originally was looking for a non-addictive alternative to morphine.

Heroin was sold by Bayer Laboratories to doctors as a 'sedative for coughs' in 1898 after it was re-synthesized by chemist Felix Hoffmann.

At one point, it was even marketed towards children as medication during the height of tuberculosis.

Because of the medical benefits, women were the most popular customers of the drug.

Yet, Bayer's production of heroin was discontinued in 1913 after doctors discovered its addictive side effects, and the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 sought to control the non-medical production of the drug.

Around this time, the term 'junkies' originated because during the 1920s addicts would spend their days scavenging in junk yards for scrap metal to support their addiction.

Eventually, heroin was completely banned in 1924. But in 1964, only selected specialized medical facilities were allowed to prescribe heroin. That law was further restricted in 1968.

The heroin problem persisted as many soldiers abused the drug during and after the Vietnam War.

To this day, heroin abuse continues to ravage those who use it. A Harvard study cites it as "humanity's oldest, most widespread, and most persistent drug problem".

RELATED: See what heroin does to your body

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Faces of Heroin
Photo credit: Multnomah County Sheriff
Photo credit: Multnomah County Sheriff
Photo credit: Multnomah County Sheriff
Photo credit: Multnomah County Sheriff
Photo credit: Multnomah County Sheriff
Photo credit: Multnomah County Sheriff
Photo credit: Multnomah County Sheriff
Photo credit: Multnomah County Sheriff
Photo credit: Multnomah County Sheriff
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