History's highs and lows | Calendar | Chicago Reader

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History's highs and lows

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Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup was a popular way to treat teething, "nervous," and colicky babies in the mid-1800s. The product worked because it was laced with opium. At the time, GOM--God's Own Medicine--was a legal, over-the-counter drug prescribed to treat coughs, diarrhea, fever, consumption, arthritis, alcoholism, and nervous disorders. The party ended in 1914, when Congress passed the Harrison Narcotic Act. Cocaine, heroin, ether, nitrous oxide, chloroform, and marijuana were also legal in this country at various points in time (on the flip side, both tobacco and alcohol have been illegal or restricted in the past). The exhibit "Altered States: Alcohol and Other Drugs in America" contains hundreds of historical artifacts that illustrate America's fickle, often hypocritical relationship with mind-altering substances and the political motivations behind our attitudes. It opens Saturday at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark. Admission is $5, $3 for students and seniors, and $1 for children 6 to 12. Call 312-642-4600. --Cara Jepsen¯

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo of Mrs.Winslow's Soothing Syrup.

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