What was drug use like in the Old West? Drugs were pretty common and were legal—whether for killing pain or recreational use. The most popular painkillers were whiskey, morphine, opium and laudanum.
Morphine was the most common narcotic on the frontier. Derived from the opium poppy which has been cultivated for 3,500 years.Commercial marketing began in the 1820s and after the invention of the hypodermic needle in 1853 its use expanded, especially in battlefield surgeries. It’s estimated that a half-million Civil War veterans became lifetime addicts.
Many of these drugs were easy to obtain as easy as over the counter of local pharmacies.