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Victorians, Cocaine and Depression


Here’s just a little fact that I found out when watching the History Channel the other day.  They had a lot of info on cocaine that I may someday blog about, but this thing stood out–Freud was a huge fan of Cocaine at the end of the 19th century.  In fact, he decided that since it cured him of depression, he should try it on his patients as well.  For a time, he would prescibe depressed patients cocaine, and if they came back saying it worked, but not well enough, he’d give them more.   It really worked. . .well except for the eventual cocaine addiction.  It wasn’t until other doctors started talking about all the bad side effects to the drug, that he realized maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.  Eventually he stopped prescribing it, stopped using it himself, and moved to help him kick the habit.

I know, it’s not exactly New Year’s Day kind of stuff, and I did mean to do a New Year’s Day blog, but this was a whole lot more interesting.

Happy New Year, everyone!



  1. That is cool, Dee. I think they used to have cocaine in Coca Cola, too.

  2. Denise Eagan says:

    That’s what I’ve read, Paisley (and was also on this episode). And the guy who invented Coca Cola did so to help him kick his morphine addiction. As I recall, it ended up with him being addicted to both.

  3. I think both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lewis Carroll used cocaine. Many Victorian ladies became addicted to laudenum. It was pushed by snake oil salesmen as a treatment for female complaints.

  4. Denise Eagan says:

    I heard that too, Mary Ann. Doyle had Sherlock Holmes shooting up, which I find a little confusing. Did they inject cocaine? I probably should check that out.

    I read that of all the addicts during this era, rural women were the ones most addicted to morphine, I assume due mostly to laudenum, which I believe was actually cheaper than alcohol. And probably more morally acceptable as well.

  5. Caroline Clemmons says:

    Don’t you love when you find interesting research? Edgar Allen Poe also was addicted. It’s not a mark against those authors, though. You could buy cocaine, laudanum, etc. at the pharmacy. If you like to look at old ads, which I do, cocaine was advertised to aid digestion, calm nerves, and just about everything else. I imagine a lot of people died from the so-called cure. I used laudanum addiction in my September book.

  6. I saw that on the History Channel too! Seems a lot of people became addicts to substances they thought were medicinal. They even gave these drugs to children, thinking them safe to use.

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