History of Heroin and Famous Heroin Addicts

In spite of repeated attempts in the history of heroin to stop its use, heroin addiction and famous heroin addicts are common.

The history of heroin begins with the history of opium, from which heroin is produced. The use of opium goes back hundreds or possibly thousands of years with the opium poppy being cultivated during the Neolithic Age, the new stone age. Opium was widely used and abused throughout history. (How is heroin made?)

The history of heroin is over 125 years long, with heroin, then known as diacetylmorphine first synthesized from morphine in 1874 by English chemist C. R. Alder Wright. The history of heroin shows that heroin was not further studied until independently recreated 23 years later by Felix Hoffmann, an employee of what is now known as the Bayer pharmaceutical company.

From 1898 to 1910, Bayer sold diacetylmorphine under the brand name Heroin and the true history of heroin was born.

History of Heroin - Heroin for Sale

Heroin was marketed as a non-addictive alternative to morphine, which was widely abused at the time. Unfortunately, it was later discovered that heroin was 1.5-2 times more potent than morphine and breaks down into morphine once in the body. This point in the history of heroin marks an epic blunder on the part of Bayer.

Through 1914 to 1930, various legislative efforts pepper the history of heroin, banning it and its derivatives' use. In 1919, Bayer lost some of its trademark rights to the trade name "Heroin" under the treaty of Versailles,1 which may explain why the term is so widely used today.

History of Heroin - Famous Heroin Addicts

Heroin use has been attracting addicts since its first sale in 1914 and its popularity is reflected in its mention in popular culture and in the number of famous heroin addicts. Heroin is frequently either the main theme or is mentioned in movies and on TV.

In the history of heroin, some popular culture references include:

  • Requiem for a Dream, movie, 2000 - depicts the morphine addiction of a young couple
  • Gia, movie, 1998 - depicts a true story of model Gia Carangi's addiction to heroin
  • Pulp Fiction, movie, 1994 - a main character is shown using heroin, and later another overdoses on heroin
  • Sopranos, TV, 1999 - 2007 - characters are frequently shown using or selling heroin

There may be many popular culture references in the history of heroin due to the number of famous heroin addicts. Some famous heroin addicts include:

  • John Belushi, actor, died of cocaine and heroin overdose
  • Robert Downey Junior, actor, repeated arrests and incarcerations for drugs including heroin
  • River Phoenix, actor, died of heroin and cocaine overdose
  • Kurt Cobain, musician, dies of suicide with a high concentration of heroin in bloodstream
  • Jerry Garcia, musician, died during heroin rehab
  • Janis Joplin, musician, died of a heroin overdose
  • William S. Burroughs, writer, sold and was repeatedly addicted to heroin

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 15). History of Heroin and Famous Heroin Addicts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: December 30, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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