Laudanum In The Old West

laudanum

With the modern concern about the possible over-use of opioids, it’s instructive to note that those drugs were in heavy use (and abuse) in the Old West.

One of the most popular forms was laudanum, where opiates were mixed with alcohol for a liquid drug.  It was often prescribed for various aches and pains—especially female complaints surrounding menstruation and childbirth.  Laudanum was very habit forming and was often used to commit suicide. It didn’t face government regulations until the turn of the 19th Century.

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Mark Boardman

Mark Boardman is the features editor for True West Magazine as well as the editor of The Tombstone Epitaph. He also serves as pastor for Poplar Grove United Methodist Church in Indiana.