Cocaine and Morgan: the lesson of Freud (2010)


Morgan, an Italian pop musician, in an interview with Max magazine in 2010 revealed using cocaine and in particular crack as an antidepressant, claiming that Sigmund Freud also prescribed it for such purpose.


by Federico Soldani

(Originally published in February 2010 for the blog RCS – Rizzoli Corriere della Sera – OK La Salute Prima di Tutto. Original link no longer available, transferred to

Freud was among the very first ones who experimented with cocaine with a medical gaze: using it personally, prescribing it to patients, and recommending it to family and friends as a stimulant, as well as studying its effects as a local anesthetic. In fact, he was also among the first doctors to discover, in spite of himself, the adverse effects: the strong dependence above all.

In an attempt to cure the severe pain of his friend and colleague Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow and to reduce his dependence on morphine, Freud administered intravenous (or subcutaneous) cocaine, a route of administration that approaches the onset of action of smoked cocaine, crack.

Today we know that the shorter the time that passes between taking a drug and the onset of its effects, the stronger the addiction. Today we also know the adverse effects of cocaine use, including when smoked: it is among the major causes of myocardial infarction in young people, to the point that in the emergency room this is the first thing you think about when in front of a young person with clear symptoms of an ongoing heart attack.

Not to mention psychiatric adverse effects, which are well documented and include panic attacks, paranoid delusions, hallucinations. Cocaine also causes behavioral disinhibition and induces a state of euphoria which is soon followed by dysphoria, restlessness and anxiety.

Freud, more than a hundred years ago, publicly claimed that cocaine was not addictive and that it even served to cure morphine addiction ! His friend Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow gradually developed a strong addiction to cocaine, psychotic episodes and phases of delirium with hallucinations in which he saw himself covered with snakes.

Freud apparently developed strong feelings of guilt following the episode. While he was presumably able to quit the cocaine habit, he never gave up his other addiction: cigars.

Instead, his friend died a few years later with a dual addiction to morphine and cocaine.

[It was the first case documented in medicine – or among the first known cases – of dual substance dependence].

Last Updated on July 28, 2020 by Federico Soldani

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