Were Drugs Used in Ancient Times?

The use of drugs has been a topic of interest for centuries. Many people believe that drug abuse is a modern phenomenon, but the truth is that people have been using drugs for thousands of years.

In fact, ancient civilizations used drugs for medicinal, spiritual, and recreational purposes. Let’s take a closer look at the history of drug use in ancient times.

Medicinal Use of Drugs

One of the earliest recorded uses of drugs was by the ancient Egyptians. They used opium as a pain reliever and to induce sleep. The Greeks also used opium for medicinal purposes, as well as other substances like cannabis and mandrake.

In India, Ayurvedic medicine has been using various herbs and plants for thousands of years to treat ailments such as headaches, digestive problems, and respiratory issues. One example is the use of cannabis in Ayurvedic medicine to alleviate pain and stimulate appetite.

Spiritual Use of Drugs

Many ancient cultures used drugs in religious ceremonies to achieve altered states of consciousness. The most famous example is probably the use of peyote by Native American tribes during their spiritual rituals.

In South America, shamans have been using ayahuasca for centuries to communicate with spirits and gain insight into the world around them. Ayahuasca contains DMT, a potent psychedelic compound that can induce intense hallucinations.

Recreational Use of Drugs

Drug use for recreational purposes is not a recent phenomenon either. The ancient Greeks used wine as a social lubricant during parties and gatherings. They also consumed opium recreationally.

The Chinese were known to smoke opium recreationally during the 17th century, which led to widespread addiction problems in some areas.

The Dark Side of Ancient Drug Use

While drugs were used for many positive reasons in ancient times, there were also negative consequences associated with their use. For example, the widespread use of opium in China led to addiction problems and social unrest.

Similarly, the use of cannabis in India was associated with negative consequences such as mental illness and addiction.


In conclusion, drug use has been a part of human history for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations used drugs for medicinal, spiritual, and recreational purposes.

While there were many positive aspects associated with drug use, there were also negative consequences that should not be overlooked. Understanding the history of drug use can help us better understand how we got to where we are today and how we can move forward.