The planting of opium was traced back to the Neolithic Age. The Romans, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Sumerians, Minoans and the Arab Empires made possible the spread of the plant to different areas of the world. The History of Opiates in interesting indeed.
Opium was initially used in folk medicine as an anesthetic and analgesic (pain reliever). The abuse of the drug was first recorded in China during the fifteenth century. However, because the drug was rare and inexpensive, not many people got access to it.
The popularity of the drug started in the 17th century. It used to be mixed with tobacco prior to smoking. Because of the discovery of opium addiction, the cultivation of opium was prohibited in China in 1729.
The British however, continued to trade opium. Indian provinces, which are under the British rule, continued to deliver opium to the other parts of the world.
Chinese & British Conflict & the 1800’s
The Chinese emperor tried to stop the opium deliveries. All of the opium products were confiscated to stop the trade of the drug.
This conflict between the Chinese and the British led to the two Opium Wars that took place in 1840 and 1858. The Chinese was then forced to allow opium trade within the country.
By 1860, consumption of opium continued to increase especially with the drug cultivated again in the Chinese soil. By 1905, more than one-fourth of the Chinese male population was addicted to the drug.
At the beginning of the 20th century, opium started to be prohibited in many countries with the understanding that opium is frequently used for the production of illegal recreational drugs.