Derived in the mid-1800's from a type of leaf chewed for centuries by indigenous South American peoples, cocaine was soon widely touted as a wonder drug across both Europe and the United States. It was not only used to provide pain relief, but advertised as a general revitalising tonic, giving a unique selling point to certain brands of wine and cigarettes. Freud's recommendation came a year earlier than he claims here in his 1884 essay On Coca, which ecstatically celebrated its medicinal uses, while flatly denying that it might be addictive.
As well as enthusiastically partaking himself he recommended it to the successful Austrian physician Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow (1846-1891), who had lost a thumb to infection early in his career and developed a morphine addiction while attempting to manage the chronic pain. Cocaine's own addictive properties, soon to become widely recognised, were demonstrated by Fleischl-Marxow's spiral into heavy use prior to his early death at the age of 45. This passage makes clear that Freud later regarded his experiences with the drug as a source of not only professional embarrassment but personal guilt.
Excerpts from Freud's 'On Coca' (1884), and later related writings