Our buddies at Numberphile have an uncanny ability to make math
Who would want to unleash the paranoia of PCP unto the masses? And who would be ingenious enough to come up with a drug that helps guys get hard enough for sex?
The answers to these questions are, in a sense, no one. The effects that drugs like these are best known for were discovered by accident, just like with these other psychoactive substances…
The precursor to today’s common benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin, Librium came about when Leo Sternbach, a chemist at Hoffmann-La Roche, was attempting to create tranquilizers.
The accident here, actually came with its first known case of ingestion by Albert Hoffman. Hoffman started off developing the drug because he was looking for medical uses, only taking it by mistake years later. How you can take drugs by yourself in a lab by accident is beyond me, but Hoffman is known to have done it, reporting rather pleasant side effects, like seeing “an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures,” etc.
Lithium was discovered as a chemical element well before it took an irrelevant experiment to show its calming ability—specifically for people with bipolar disorder. John Cade, a doctor and World War II vet, was experimenting on guinea pigs by injecting them with the urine of mentally ill vs. healthy people. Lithium was added just to make the chemicals he was working with more water soluble. At this point, he noticed the guinea pigs calmed down thanks to the lithium. Calm guinea pigs…hmm…
4. Isoniazid (the Grandfather of Depression Meds)
In the early 1950s, researchers thought this substance was the key to treating tuberculosis. Patients treated not only helped with the tuberculosis, they also seemed…happier. Thus, psychiatrists started testing the substance on their depressed patients, to significant success. Isoniazid is now recognized as a precursor to the slew of depression medications available on the market today.
This serious happy drug came to pharmaceutical light in the quest to prevent abnormal bleeding. MDMA cropped up in the creation of the drug that was useful to the company (Merck) at the time, so they set it aside, after which time more and more tests revealed its true powers.
In the perhaps relatively well-known story of this famous erectile dysfunction drug’s discovery, it was undergoing a clinical study to test its effectiveness for problems associated with heart disease. While it didn’t perform all that well in the way researchers had hoped, it did manage to give the study’s male subjects erections. The rest, as “they” say, is history.
7. Phencyclidine (PCP)
It’s no surprise that this recreational drug’s intense hallucinogenic, paranoid-inducing effects came about by accident. Originally intended as a general anesthetic in the 1950s, its use as such was stopped because of what it did to patients. Basically, it freaked them out, a lot, causing delusions and thus, anxiety serious enough to make it appeal only in a recreational sense…because for some reason, people love to make themselves freaked out and anxious through drug use.