Discovered during the thirteenth century, diethyl ether commonly referred to as ether-is a volatile liquid resulting from dehydration of ethyl alcohol by sulfuric acid.
Recreational use of ether was initiated by physicians and university students during the late 1700s, when it was regarded as an effective substitute for alcohol. Small doses depress the central nervous system, quickly and inexpensively producing a safe state of euphoric intoxication without causing hangover.
To become inebriated, users drank from 1 to 3 ounces of the liquid drug. Although some dangers did exist (including gastritis, overdose death, and bums from smoking while' drinking the flammable drug), use of ether as an intoxicant remained popular in Britain until the late 1800s, when public' concern resulted in an ether prohibition. This failed miserably, however, when alcohol became less expensive and more available in Britain during the 1920s, ether use rapidly declined.
In the United States, recreational use had a brief surge during the alcohol prohibition years, 1920-1933, when nonalcoholic beverages were often spiked with ether to provide a kick. Similarly, ether use rose in Germany during World. War II in response to the shortage of alcoholic beverages.
Inhalation of ether for anesthetic purposes was introduced in 1846. Before long, recreational inhalation of the drug caught on at Harvard, and at various times since has enjoyed . popularity in various parts of the United States and Europe.
Although quantities are still utilized in a wide variety of industrial processes today, medical and recreational use in America has slowed to a mere trickle.