Morphine and Morale: The British System and the Second World War
In this chapter, the threat of air raids in the build-up to the Second World War is explored. This led many in medicine and politics to anticipate ‘mass hysteria’ amongst the population on the Home Front, and left the Home Office Drugs Branch facing a new and somewhat unprecedented challenge: how to regulate morphine when the drug was widely and densely distributed across the social body, with many doctors advocating using the drug in a therapeutic capacity to guard against civilian panic. It alarmed a Drugs Branch staff accustomed to restricting access to opiates, and led to tensions with the Ministry of Health, which supported a broad relaxation of controls. Meanwhile, the new wartime proliferation of licit opiates offered opportunities to the addict population, who were quick to infiltrate the civil defence system with a view to accessing supplies. In this period, changes in the addict subculture begin to be apparent.