Cops Practicing Medicine• cato.org, By Jeffrey A. Singer and Trevor Burrus
Yet opium and its derivatives were broadly legal in the United States before 1914. Americans could buy opium??based products off the shelf.
Those products took many forms, including tinctures, soothing syrups, numerous "patent medicines," and laudanum (usually a mixture of alcohol and opium).
Doctors prescribed opium for many ailments because it often helped, especially compared with what else was available.
During the first decades of the 20th century, the drug took on an increasingly negative image.
Consequently, the compulsive opioid user also took on that image, and addiction came to be regarded as a moral failing worthy of condemnation and criminal punishment.