History of Drug Addiction Both Psychological and Physical Research Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Sports - Drugs
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #21235782

Excerpt from Research Paper :

addiction over the past several decades, that addiction, specifically drug addiction, has been present in society for most of mankind's presence on earth. Such addiction may have been known by other descriptions and may not have been known to be the result of something exactly identified as a drug but such use was still likely an addiction. The use of drugs has been recorded by historians for thousands of years (Crafts, 2009). Wine was used by the early Egyptians and narcotics and marijuana have been noted to be used as far back as 4000 B.C. But it was not until the 19th century that the active ingredients in drugs were extracted. For many years many of the drugs that are now heavily regulated and controlled were freely available and prescribed by physicians. There easy availability resulted in many becoming addicted to their use and by the early1900s there were an estimated 250,000 addicts in the United States (Courtwright, 1992).

Drugs identified as such are a relatively new concept. It is only with the advent of modern pharmacology and medicine that the term drugs have actually come into common parlance. As the legalized use of drugs became more popular all drugs came under increased scrutiny and the issue of drug abuse became a topic of discussion and concern.

Before examining the history of addiction in relationship to drug abuse it is essential that the terms drugs and drug abuse are defined. Drugs can include not only illicit drugs such as LSD, marijuana, heroin and cocaine that one might purchase illegally or they might include a full range of legal drugs that are normally prescribed for medically approved purposes but are either used in quantities larger than prescribed or for purposes for which they are not intended. Abuse of such drugs means any use that is not prescribed and may or may not include addiction. Drug abuse may exist with or without addiction.

Throughout history the drugs of choice in terms of abuse and addiction have changed. Certain diseases hit different cultures at various times but the nature of the disease does not change. Measles, mumps, and mental disorders affect every culture and when they appear their essential nature does not change. Measles appears the same in Germany as it does in America and it is treated the same. Drug abuse, however, and the drugs abused vary from culture to culture and generation from generation. The drugs that are abused in one culture and time may not be the same drugs that are abused in another culture and time. Times change and so do the particular popularity of drugs.

Nevertheless, there is a pattern to the groups that are affected by drug use and abuse, to the circumstances under which drug usage is initiated, and various other factors associated with the use of drugs and their subsequent abuse. There are some variations in these patterns over the course of time but there is enough correlation to suggest that drug abuse involves some measure of antisocial personality.

Interestingly, most drugs begin their lives rather quietly and innocently. Few, if any, appear in the market place as being deemed illicit and begin to acquire such status as time passes and problems regarding their use become known. Many drugs, in fact, when properly used are not dangerous at all, but become illicit when their use becomes popular because of their effects. Other drugs having little or no medicinal value become illicit almost immediately after being introduced. There is no specified pattern as to how drugs become illicit but in most cases a drug's illicit nature can be tracked to its becoming abused (Whitebread, 1995).

The first real attempt at controlling the non-medical use of drugs in America occurred in 1914 as the U.S. Congress enacted the Harrison Act (Harrison Act). The Harrison Act was a major departure by the U.S. Government in regard to how it involved itself in the criminal arena. Prior to the Harrison Act, the federal government had few criminal statutes on its books and the Harrison Act opened the gates for further federal involvement. In an interesting historical twist, the focus of the Harrison Act reveals a much different drug scene in 1914 than the one that currently exists in America. In 1914, the drugs that were at the center of the debate were opium, morphine and its various derivatives, and cocaine. No mention is made in the statute of amphetamines, barbiturates, marijuana, hashish, or hallucinogenic drugs of any kind.

The Harrison Act was moderately successful in regulating the drugs that it had listed as its concerns (Musto, 1991). Prior to its enactment the drugs listed in the body of the statute were enjoying popular usage across all societal lines in America society. Subsequent to the enactment of the Harrison Act, their popularity among the middle and upper classes waned substantially. Doctors had been prescribing these drugs for a variety of ailments including pain relief, coughs, diarrhea and sleeping potions. Once the use of these drugs became illegal and highly controlled, their use became concentrated in various outside groups such as musicians and minority groups. This was the first movement in this direction and it is one that has continued to the present day.

Following the enactment of the Harrison Act, there was little change in the illicit drug and drug abuse scene in America until the early 1960s but there were other attempts at controlling drugs. A generalized nature of temperance developed in the United States and this led to the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919 that prohibited the sale of alcohol throughout the country. The Eighteenth Amendment proved to be unenforceable and was repealed in 1933.

The social upheaval of the 1960s brought with it a dramatic increase in drug use and with it came increased social acceptance (Gfroerer, 1992). At that time, drug usage, drug abuse, and the spectrum of drugs changed substantially. During that period a whole new range of drugs came into popular usage and the usage of certain drugs was actually decriminalized. Drugs such as marijuana, LSD, hashish, and other drugs known as psychotropic became widely available and their usage was not limited to traditional groups such as musicians and minorities. The introduction of these new drugs brought middle class white youth into the fray and with it increased concern in certain circles over the use of illicit drugs and drug abuse while other segments of society became more accepting. The social climate was ripe for experimenting and drugs were introduced that were said to alter consciousness. Drug abuse and addiction became almost badges of honor among the youth culture that wanted to show that they were not part of establishment. By the end of the 1960s, some were calling America "the addicted society (Fort, 1981)."

In the later decades of the twentieth century, the public concern over drugs became more diverse. Regulation of the prescription drug industry by the federal government increased and drugs that had been viewed for years as being relatively harmless such as tobacco and alcohol came under scrutiny (Anthony, 2000). As a result of this scrutiny, tobacco and alcohol were both packaged with warning labels and their restrictions placed on the way and to whom they could be advertised. Even the use of caffeine came under criticism.

The Harrison Act signaled the federal government's first entry into the area of criminal law and the criminal sanctioning of drug use but it would not be its last such attempt. Since the early 1970s and the initiation of the federal government's organized war on drugs, the number of federal criminal statutes addressing some aspect of drug enforcement has increased substantially. In 1970, the U.S. Congress enacted the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act which repealed, replaced, or updated all previous federal drug laws. Subsequent legislation increased funding for treatment and rehabilitation of drug users and in 1988 the Office of National Drug Control Policy was created and a national director, known as the drug "czar," was named.

As the federal government began to expand its involvement in the enforcement of drug laws it also continued to strengthen the sanctioning laws regarding various drugs of abuse. Unfortunately the government soon discovered that as soon as one drug, or family of drugs, rose to prominence and the government felt that it was getting it under control, there was a new drug waiting in the wings requiring control. The American public was seemingly moving from one drug to another in an attempt to make life more manageable. Meanwhile, there was a new interest in providing drug treatment programs for those being affected by the increased use of both illicit and prescribed drugs.

The late 1980s ushered in the introduction of several new drugs that were used for recreational purposes. One of the first of these drugs was Methaqualone which was known on the streets as Quaalude (Herzberg, 2011). Quaalude was originally marketed as a sleeping aid and was proclaimed to…

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