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The 10 Most Seductive Drugs -- And Their Fascinating History

Science & Tech  (tags: ancient, archaeology, discovery, drugs, history, humans, investigation, medicine, science )

- 2294 days ago -
A brief journey through time, from ancient Sumeria to modern New Jersey, uncovers the mysterious origins of the world's most beloved substances.

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Kit B (276)
Friday February 10, 2012, 1:29 pm

1) Alcohol: Ancient Sumeria

2) Peyote: Mexico

3) Marijuana: Siberia

4) Opium: Greece

5) Coco: Peru

6) Laudenum and Morphine: Great Britain/USA

7) Cocaine: Austria

8) Amphetamine: Germany


10) Benzodiazepines: New Jersey

*** Published by alternet by Jacqueline Detwiler

I hope you have some fun with this one - I did.

Freya H (357)
Friday February 10, 2012, 2:55 pm
Ever since humans learned that eating certain plants caused them to feel super-good or see things that weren't there, we have been seeking all sorts of highs.

There is evidence that civilization may have started as a way of keeping track who grew how much grain - for making BEER!

Lin Penrose (92)
Friday February 10, 2012, 3:54 pm
Thanks Kit & Cal, Must be something in the mammalian brain and some birds,perhaps other species, that are seeking or are attracted to chemicals that are the 'feel good' type, the pleasure sensors, that often turn out to be unpleasant in the long-term. Ugh, memories of my youth!

pam w (139)
Friday February 10, 2012, 4:27 pm
Yes...well....I've had a passing familiarity with a few of those :-) I don't know about the last two, though...

I agree with Lin...there certainly MUST be parts of our brains which are "wired" for drugs. I believe every society in the history of humanity has made some sort of alcoholic beverage. Surprisingly, there are more than a few excellent beers in Muslim countries!

Kenneth L (314)
Friday February 10, 2012, 5:07 pm
Oh this is a good article Kit, thanks. Very informative. I'll read it in detail later. Even before I looked I knew opium and laudenum would be there as even back in 'Sherlock Holmes' time there were such addicts all over the place. Of course most drugs that have any valid use for extreme pain will end up being misused to get stoned on.
And the biggest cause of misery and ruined lives and death would be alcohol IMO over the last few thousand years. With alcohol, a little goes a long way.

Kit B (276)
Friday February 10, 2012, 5:32 pm

Ya know, over the years I have had different types of morphine for pain. I still wish that my body was wired like others, I have yet to get "high" on morphine or any of it's many assorted relatives.

Not just Conan Doyle, Ken but CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and the list goes on and on.
Yeah, I have seen far too many not know when to stop with drinking. It and drugs can really screw up ones life.

Sheila D (28)
Friday February 10, 2012, 6:17 pm
Some people will do anything to get high. Cocaine used to be one of the main ingredients in CocaCola (TM), but they quit using it, either when it became illegal or when it became clear it was addictive (not sure which). Personally, I've tried a few things over the years, but not anymore. It's just too hard on the body, especially if you do it everyday.

Kit B (276)
Friday February 10, 2012, 6:45 pm

Actually Coca-Cola was released as a headache cure, ergo the cocaine. Bet it worked too.

Süheyla C (234)
Friday February 10, 2012, 6:52 pm
thanks Kat

Rachel M (0)
Friday February 10, 2012, 7:07 pm
Interesting, thanks

Holly Lawrence (430)
Friday February 10, 2012, 9:52 pm
Great read.. thanks much! I'm acquainted with a few .. and wish pain relievers would put me to sleep..i just get hyper:(

Virginia Esquer (10)
Friday February 10, 2012, 10:03 pm
very interesting to know where they originated from.

Robert O (12)
Friday February 10, 2012, 10:43 pm
Thanks Kit.

KS Goh (0)
Friday February 10, 2012, 11:31 pm
Thanks for the article.

pam w (139)
Friday February 10, 2012, 11:49 pm
Sorry---there are some WONDERFUL drugs on this list....and I know them all! let's keep us with the idea of defining them all.

Past Member (0)
Friday February 10, 2012, 11:51 pm
thank you

Pia M (88)
Saturday February 11, 2012, 3:37 am
This stuck out like a sore thumb: "Marijuana: Siberia" - I mean, isn't it a bit cold in Siberia to grow cannabis? Arctic tribes trading furs and pelts for marihuana with peddlers? Then I read the article and saw this: "Scythians, a people that lived in Siberia around the 7th century BC". NOT. Scythians were a Persian people who lived around Caspian Sea and north of Black Sea, areas which nowadays form southern Russia, Ukraine and partly Romania.

Siberian peoples, and many other Arctic tribes as well, preferred Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) as their favorite drug - it was used ritually by shamans, who then made spirit-journeys between the upper and lower worlds. What's great about amanita, it can be used several times - first by eating, then by collecting and drinking the urine, which still contains plenty of psychoactive elements. The use of amanita was so widespread among Uralic-speaking peoples it's nearly an offense not to include it in this article... (Personally, I prefer alcohol. There's nothing better than a nip o'whiskey - if not the second nip.)

Kenneth L (314)
Saturday February 11, 2012, 8:05 am
I meant Sherlock Holmes (cocoaine) and others in Doyle's stories Kit. There were opium dens in London and other major cities in that time period. I can't find anywhere where Doyle himself was a user necessarily.
Ritalin as most people know now is very similar to cocaine, the DEA lists it in the same category (II), it's one of the most stolen and trafficked street drugs in the U.S. ('kiddie cocaine'). A pretty neat 'solution' to school study problems huh? (sarcasm). LSD was once touted by psychiatry as a cure-all for everything from schizophrenia to criminal behavior, sexual perversions and alcoholism
But I digress.

Carmen S (611)
Saturday February 11, 2012, 10:25 am
very interesting, thanks Kit

Terry King (113)
Saturday February 11, 2012, 1:26 pm
I remember the 60s but just barely!

Fred Krohn (34)
Saturday February 11, 2012, 1:55 pm
The use of assorted drugs over human history (and before written history began) featured various drugs as enhancements or pleasures long before the events in some of the article notes. Pia M mentions amanita; this and other fungi have seen use for far longer than human written records. Alcohol is ancient pre-history among numerous human civilisations; there's an argument as to whether prostitution or fermentation is the world's oldest profession. Whether or not people use these chemicals for medical cures, environmental compensation, or pleasure, they are part of our lives and current prohibition-style bans are ineffective; the USA would be better served by legalising supervised use and turning the 'problem' over to the medical community.

Anne S (25)
Saturday February 11, 2012, 7:14 pm
I agree with Fred Krohn.

IMHO --- The psychoactive substances did not become a problem until they got concentrated . Chewing on a coca leaf or brewing tea from it is a far cry from crack cocaine !!!! The poppy syrup used in ancient Greece was not a problem but inject-able forms are. I believe the war on drugs is a big money maker because it does nothing but increase prison populations & give rise the the violence once witnessed during prohibition.

Thank You Kit

Gloria Morotti (14)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 2:20 am

Diane Piecara (14)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 3:03 am
In regard to the "war on drugs," it is common knowledge that the US government is manic about locking low income minorities up for drug use. Coincidentally, this assault began after African-Americans fought for and made gains in civil rights in the 60's. The "war on drugs" (or the new Jim Crow) has destroyed families all over the country. Moms and dads taken from kids. When released, they are homeless, can't get work, and have no rights. I guess if the 1% can't keep them down one way, they'll just create and implement "Plan B."

jodi m (37)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 7:21 am
Very informative

Elsa O (1)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 12:32 pm
very interesting

M B (62)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 2:21 pm
Thank's Kit, most of it I knew already. There are still some empty villages in southern France, because of Absinth - males got infertile...Van Gogh (an impressionistic painter from 19th century) and Paul Gauguin used to drink it, too. Later it got illegal. This about like :" living like God in France".

Kit B (276)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 2:43 pm

Just a little over view on Absinthe - which does taste delightful and does pack a punch but still it is not nearly as bad as it's undeserved reputation.

Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic (45–74% ABV / 90-148 proof) beverage. It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (a.k.a. "grande wormwood"), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green colour but may also be colourless. It is commonly referred to in historical literature as "la fée verte" (the green fairy).

Although it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a liqueur, absinthe is not traditionally bottled with added sugar, and is therefore classified as a spirit. Absinthe is traditionally bottled at a high level of alcohol by volume, but is normally diluted with water prior to being consumed.

Absinthe originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland in the late 18th century. It arose to great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. Owing in part to its association with bohemian culture, the consumption of absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Ernest Hemingway, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley and Alfred Jarry were all known absinthe drinkers.

Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug. The chemical compound thujone, although present in the spirit in only trace amounts, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in much of Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although absinthe was vilified, it has not been demonstrated to be any more dangerous than ordinary spirits. Any psychoactive properties attributed to absinthe, apart from that of the alcohol, have been much exaggerated.

A quick review from Wiki....

A revival of absinthe began in the 1990s, following the adoption of modern European Union food and beverage laws that removed longstanding barriers to its production and sale. By the early 21st century, nearly 200 brands of absinthe were being produced in a dozen countries, most notably in France, Switzerland, USA, Spain, and the Czech Republic.


Mary Donnelly (47)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 3:38 pm
Thanks Kit--great post.

jayasri amma (10)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 6:41 pm
Thanks for the article.

jayasri amma (10)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 6:41 pm
Thanks for the article.

jayasri amma (10)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 6:42 pm
Thanks for the article.

Bob hardly here P (394)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 7:42 pm
interesting thanks

Quanta Kiran (67)
Sunday February 12, 2012, 9:44 pm

Parvez Zuberi (7)
Monday February 13, 2012, 1:25 am
Thanks for the article

Myron Scott (70)
Monday February 13, 2012, 6:30 am
Nothing wrong with a little seduction.

Jennifer M (78)
Monday February 13, 2012, 1:33 pm
The sad thing is that some of these things aren't too harmful in their natural state. It's when humans alter them that they become dangerous.

Ann B (60)
Monday February 13, 2012, 1:38 pm
Thanks for the article - very interesting

Marianna molnar woods (9)
Monday February 13, 2012, 1:47 pm

KS Goh (0)
Tuesday February 14, 2012, 5:03 am
Thanks for the article.

Tracy G (3)
Tuesday February 14, 2012, 5:15 pm
Interesting, thx!

Tuesday February 14, 2012, 6:31 pm
The best drugs to use, are no-drugs at all Their is something very beautiful about a drug-free crutch-free human mind.

Cindy B (61)
Tuesday February 14, 2012, 10:10 pm
Actually I beg to differ with my friend Frank. It seems there's a lot of dreary minutinae, a lot of repetition required to maintain day to day life. And ya don't even get to take it with you at the end! (so far as we know). So, why not add a bit of garnish? The argument that we're "changing reality" goes out the window. First, there are a thousand different realities going on at any given time for any given person, depending on the physical and psychiatric perspectives one taps into. Second, we are constantly "changing reality--" by eating food, taking an aspirin, bundling up against the cold, etc.

When I was an anthropology major, one of the first things we learned was that ALL HUMAN GROUPS, EVEN THE MOST PRIMITIVE, HAVE AT LEAST DEVELOPED THE ABILITY TO "CHANGE REALITY." Even the most primitive tribes ever discovered had figured out how to chew up roots, spit the juice into some kind of vessel and let the stuff ferment....

Few things are as wonderful as flying down a steep mountain slope on skis with a bit of mj on board. What a religious experience! Definitely one of the things that'll flash before my eyes as I gasp my last. No matter how I try to apply "mind over matter" and recreate the thing with mind alone, I fail. So, yay for the mj!

Moderation is key, of course. Thank you Kit B.

reft h (66)
Tuesday February 14, 2012, 10:36 pm
quite interesting, thanks

Elize Labuschagne (181)
Tuesday February 14, 2012, 11:17 pm
ANYTHING you overdo or abuse is not good for you.

Colleen L (3)
Wednesday February 15, 2012, 8:19 pm
Interesting article. I personally like to just be natural. Safer that way. Thanks Kit

Roger G (154)
Friday February 17, 2012, 1:22 pm
noted, thanks !

Patricia R (13)
Friday February 17, 2012, 5:25 pm

Past Member (0)
Monday March 5, 2012, 12:05 am
Interesting to know the origins! Thanks!
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