American Civil War medical practice, the post-bellum opium crisis and modern comparisons

August 04, 2020 12:23 PM | Judy Pfeiffer (Administrator)

R Gregory Lande

Abstract

The American Civil War resulted in massive numbers of injured and ill soldiers. Throughout the conflict, medical doctors relied on opium to treat these conditions, giving rise to claims that the injudicious use of the narcotic caused America’s post-bellum opium crisis. Similar claims of medical misuse of opioids are now made as America confronts the modern narcotic crisis. A more nuanced thesis based on a broader base of Civil War era research suggests a more complex set of interacting factors that collectively contributed to America’s post-war opium crisis.

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