In Strange Facts about Addiction Parts 1 and 2 we discussed a number of strange but important facts related to drug addiction. This included the theory of addiction as an evolutionary survival trait, the fact that in some cases drug detox can be dangerous, that animals can become addicted to drugs and that babies and infant cannot become psychologically addicted. In this installment of the series we’ll detail 2 more strange facts about drug addiction in the hope that a better understanding of this disease will lead to better prevention and treatment options. Addiction has caused Major Wars
Drug addiction has plagued mankind for thousands of years. In fact, some people have suggested that even early hominids may have been addicted to certain psychotropic plants, leading many to suspect that addiction may be a primitive and evolutionary trait stretching back tens of thousands of years. However, in more recent history addiction has been a prevalent and growing problem for modern societies. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that addiction caused two especially violent wars between China and Great Britain.
The Opium Wars were a series of violent battle between British and Chinese forces that ultimately led to a significant increase in the distribution of British opium throughout China – a country where some people have theorized that more than half of the able bodied men of the time were addicted to opium. According to the Wikipedia entry for Opium Wars:
“British and United States merchants brought opium from the British East India Company’s factories in Patna and Benares, in the Bengal Presidency of British India, to the coast of China, where they sold it to Chinese smugglers who distributed the drug in defiance of Chinese laws. Aware both of the drain of silver and the growing numbers of addicts, the Daoguang Emperor demanded action. Officials at the court, who advocated legalization of the trade in order to tax it were defeated by those who advocated suppression. In 1838, the Emperor sent Lin Zexu to Guangzhou, where he quickly arrested Chinese opium dealers and summarily demanded that foreign firms turn over their stocks.” (1)
The British response was an immediate attack. At the time the Chinese military was no match for the superior British forces, and the Chinese government agreed to a treaty that greatly favored the British opium trade – among other clauses – after 3 years of war. During the period that followed, a large number of Chinese became addicted to opium, and the development of the country suffered as a result. Additionally, Chinese officials were largely uncooperative with the British authorities.
Nearly 15 years after the end of the first Opium War, a second war erupted between the two nations when China determined that it must do something about its growing population of opium addicts. But despite valiant efforts and 4 years of fighting, the Chinese were once again defeated by the powerful British army. Addiction flourished in China afterward, but eventually made its way to the United Kingdom as well.
Addiction to Opiates can be Treated with Opiates
On a related topic, another strange fact about addiction is that opiate dependence can be treated successfully with other opiates. This is especially true of drugs like methadone, which work by preventing withdrawal syndrome but blocking most of the “high” that occurs when a person uses. Methadone has been demonstrated as a successful way to treat heroin addiction, at a significant savings to the general public in both terms of public resources and funds, and in increased public security as a result of the managed care of addicts.
In the final installment of this series we’ll detail 3 more strange facts about drug addiction and dependence. But if you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction right now, there’s no better time to get help. Our addiction specialists are standing by 24 hours per day to provide you with a free, confidential consultation about how we can help you. In fact, we can even help you get a plane ticket for treatment. Why wait any longer? Take back you life now.
(1) Wikipedia Opium Wars