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A history of drug abuse in the united states of america

Discuss the presence of drugs in ancient times. Summarize the use of drugs in the United States during the nineteenth century. Explain the racial basis for decisions to ban opium, cocaine, and marijuana in the United States. To the extent that the past is prologue, the history of drug use provides a sobering lesson: Drug use has been common since ancient times and has been common in almost every society. If past is indeed prologue, then it is no surprise that drug use remains common in contemporary nations despite considerable efforts to reduce it.

One manifestation of the long history of drug use is that humans have used mind-altering plants since prehistoric times. Ancient Greeks drank poppy juice, which contained opium, around 300 BCE. Use of other drugs was also common in ancient times. Mead, an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey, was first used about 8000 BCE, and beer and berry wines were first used about 6000 BCE.

The ancient Sumerians used opium starting about 5000 BCE. Ancient people in what is now Switzerland ate poppy seeds the source of opium in 2500 BCE. Coca leaves the source of cocaine have been chewed for thousands of years. Folk medicines made from plants and herbs have also been used since ancient times.

People in ancient Palestine drank wine in 350 BCE. Ancient Greeks drank poppy juice in 300 BCE. In about the same period, South American tribes used a hallucinogen called cohoba, made from mimosa beans.

The Chinese and other Asians were using opium regularly by 1000 CE. Native Americans used tobacco before being discovered by Columbus in 1492. Sociologist Erich Goode 2008, p.

  • Some of this concern was fueled by the absurd belief that African Americans who used cocaine became extra strong, dangerous, and even invulnerable to bullets;
  • This brief history shows that drug use has been part of the American culture ever since the nation began.

And throughout recorded time, significant numbers of nearly every society on earth have used one or more drugs to achieve certain desired physical or mental states. Drug use comes close to being a universal, both worldwide and throughout history. During the colonial era, tobacco was a major crop in Virginia and other colonies thanks to slave labor. After being processed, it was commonly used by colonists and also exported to Europe in great quantities Gately, 2001.

The Mayflower, the celebrated ship that brought the first Puritans to what eventually became the United States, was filled with barrels of beer. In colonial New England, rum manufacturing was a major industry, and rum drinking was common. During the early 1770s, New England had more than 140 rum distilleries, and rum consumption in the colonies averaged 7.

  • It joined opium and cocaine in being a common ingredient in patent medicines, and it was a popular drug for problems like migraine headaches, menstrual cramps, and toothache pain;
  • Alcohol also remained a very popular drug, and use of this drug during the 1800s was probably greater than during colonial America.

Rum was also a major export to Europe and elsewhere. In addition to rum, colonists routinely drank beer and hard cider. During the nineteenth century, Americans began to use drugs other than alcohol in great quantities. One popular drug was coffee. Before the Civil War, Americans who drank coffee had to buy green unroasted coffee beans in bulk and roast their own coffee. Then in 1865, John Arbuckle, a Pittsburgh grocer, began selling roasted coffee inside a new invention—the paper bag.

His bagged coffee was an instant hit across the nation, other coffee manufacturers followed suit, and coffee use by Americans greatly increased. Alcohol also remained a very popular drug, and use of this drug during the 1800s was probably greater than during colonial America.

Two reasons help account for this trend Faupel et al. One reason was the western frontier. As the nation moved west, many of the explorers and settlers who led the way were men who were unmarried or, if married, men who had left their families behind. To put it mildly, they drank a lot, fought a lot, and gambled a lot. A second reason was that many Irish immigrants came to the United States during a great wave of immigration that began in the mid-nineteenth century. Although it might sound like a stereotype, the Irish drank a lot of alcohol back in their homeland, and they continued to do so once they reached the United States.

Regardless of who was drinking, heavy alcohol use contributed greatly to poverty, to physical assaults and homicides, and to domestic violence and other family problems. Three other popular drugs in this era were opium, cocaine, and marijuana. Opium During the decades before and after the Civil War, the use of opium was extremely common Goode, 2012. Beyond making people feel good, opium is an effective painkiller and cough suppressant.

Accordingly, it was a staple in many patent medicines, elixirs and tonics, sold back then in apothecaries, general stores, and other venues. Large numbers of people from all social backgrounds used these opium-laced medicines for problems such as depression, headaches, menstrual cramps, and toothaches. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that the United States was a nation of opium users during this period; an estimated 500,000 Americans were addicted to opium by the end of the century.

As anthropologist Robert B. White workers feared their growing numbers as a threat to a history of drug abuse in the united states of america jobs, and racial prejudice against the Chinese increased. This rising concern led San Francisco in 1875 to become the first locality to ban opium dens. Other California cities did the same, and the state itself banned opium dens in 1881.

A History of Addiction Treatment in the US

Cocaine Cocaine was another drug that was very popular in the nineteenth century, beginning in the 1880s, thanks in part to enthusiastic claims by Sigmund Freud and American physicians that cocaine could help relieve asthma, depression, hay fever, sexual impotence, toothache pain, and a host of other problems.

Like opium, cocaine was a popular ingredient in the many patent medicines that people bought at various stores, and the US Army Surgeon-General advocated its medical use. It was a major ingredient in a new beverage introduced in 1886, Coca-Cola, which became an instant hit because people naturally felt so good when they drank Coke!

Some of this concern was fueled by the absurd belief that African Americans who used cocaine became extra strong, dangerous, and even invulnerable to bullets. Cocaine was heavily taxed by the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act and later banned. Marijuana A third legal drug during the late nineteenth century was marijuana.

It joined opium and cocaine in being a common ingredient in patent medicines, and it was a popular drug for problems like migraine headaches, menstrual cramps, and toothache pain. After the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Mexicans moved to the United States in increased numbers and brought with them their habit of marijuana use. Whites feared that Mexicans would take their jobs, and, similar to what happened with opium and Chinese immigrants during the 1870s, began to charge that Mexicans who used marijuana would become violent and more likely to rape and murder innocent white victims.

This racially prejudiced claim increased concern about marijuana and helped lead to the federal Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that banned its use. This brief history shows that drug use has been part of the American culture ever since the nation began. If past is prologue, it should come as no surprise that drugs remain part of the American culture today, and it should also come as no surprise that efforts to reduce or eliminate drug use often meet with much resistance and little success.

As the United States continues to try to deal with drug use, these basic facts must not be forgotten. Key Takeaways Drug use has been common since ancient times. Alcohol was widely drunk in colonial America. During the latter nineteenth century, opium, marijuana, and cocaine were legal drugs that were also widely used. Racial prejudice played an a history of drug abuse in the united states of america role in decisions during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century to ban opium, marijuana, and cocaine.

For Your Review Were you surprised to read that mind-altering drug use has been common since ancient times? Why or why not? Were you surprised to read that racial prejudice helped lead to bans on opium, marijuana, and cocaine?

  1. Two reasons help account for this trend Faupel et al.
  2. Key Takeaways Drug use has been common since ancient times. New York Times, p.
  3. As the nation moved west, many of the explorers and settlers who led the way were men who were unmarried or, if married, men who had left their families behind.
  4. If past is indeed prologue, then it is no surprise that drug use remains common in contemporary nations despite considerable efforts to reduce it. The Chinese and other Asians were using opium regularly by 1000 CE.

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Drugs in history and anthropology 2nd ed. Drugs and drug policy: What everyone needs to know. Origins of narcotic control 3rd ed. Ethnographic Research at the social margins. This is a derivative of Social Problems: Continuity and Change by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, which was originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA.