WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR SOME –
Feb. 25, 2021 – During the antebellum decades, addiction to rudimentary opiates such as laudanum and opium in gum, pill, and powdered forms was common among white Americans. Discussion of opiate addiction, often dubbed the “opium habit” or “slavery” to opiates, frequently appeared in medical journals, monographs, textbooks, and even newspapers beginning in the 1830s. Psychiatrists, physicians, and other Americans widely attributed opiate addiction to the sufferers’ mental illness, constitutional weakness, or moral failings. Consequently, Americans afflicted by the so-called opium habit were frequently victim-blamed, stigmatized, and even institutionalized.