What was Laudanum?
Laudanum was widely used in the 18th and 19th centuries by literary stars such as Coleridge, Shelley and De Quincey.
It is a tincture of opium containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine). Laudanum was historically used to treat a variety of ailments, but its principal use was as an analgesic and cough suppressant. Until the early 20th century, laudanum was sold without a prescription and was a constituent of many patent medicines.
Today, laudanum is recognized as addictive and is strictly regulated and controlled throughout most of the world. Laudanum remains available by prescription in the United States and theoretically in the United Kingdom, although today the drug's therapeutic indications are generally confined to controlling diarrhea, alleviating pain, and easing withdrawal symptoms in infants born to mothers addicted to heroin or other opioids.