Do you know that long before it became a public malaise and a revered criminal, cocaine was a drug that was hailed as the ‘new thing’ in medicine, it was used as an anesthesia during surgery and was the safest way of operating a patient who would still be awake while getting updates on the progress of the surgery yet feel no pain. Cocaine was celebrated as a revolutionary medical technology before its harmful consequences i.e. addiction became fully understood. Before the advent of cocaine as an anesthetic though, chloroform was the most widely used anesthesia though with varying degrees of success and failure and with the problem associated with it being that people who were put to sleep might never wake up, hence, the public approval of cocaine. In 1884, a Viennese ophthalmologist named Karl Koller made a discovery that stated that cocaine, if introduced into the eyes in a solution, would reduce or totally remove the nerves’ sensitivity to pain. This news was understandably positively accepted throughout Europe and America. It might be hard to really believe the fact that cocaine was a generally acceptable anesthesia since the abuse nowadays is alarming and more efficient ways of surgical pain relief has been found, but back in those days, options for anesthesia were greatly limited.
Cocaine anesthesia was also used for cosmetic surgery, doctors, tattoo artists also injected their clients with cocaine before performing their acts, skin grafts were also made possible through this use. But cocaine’s fall would soon become apparent since research began to pop up incidents where after a patient got a dose of this ‘smiling drug’, they always came back for more and couldn’t seem to find a way to properly curb its use, by early twentieth century, ban on cocaine became prominent and recently, bans on the use of cocaine or any other strength inducing substance in sports have become more apparent while also attracting fines, life ban for some athletes or total ostracization of such personnel, even its use in medicine comes under more scrutiny and is allowed only in rare cases such as its use to prevent swelling of the blood vessels.