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Past And Current Trends Paper

1358 words - 5 pages

Over the course of history, trends of the use and abuse of substances in the United States have changed modestly. Drugs are everywhere, legal and illegal, and have had a major impact on society past and present. This paper will discuss the past and present uses of substances, the ways in which American culture encourages and supports drug use and abuse, and the cultural appropriateness of using narcotics for medicinal purposes. The paper will also address how and why substance abuse creates significant health problems in the United States.For thousands of years humans have used drugs in some form or another. "Human beings have always had a desire to eat or drink substances that make them feel relaxed, stimulated, or euphoric" (Drug Rehab, 2002). Early Egyptians drank wine sometime around 3500 B.C. and marijuana was used for medicinal purposes as early as 2737 B.C. According to our text, "the Chinese eventually banned its use because of the plant's unpredictable intoxicating effects" (Carroll, 2000). Recreational drugs such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine have been around through history and are nearly accepted by all societies today. Several other substances were used hundreds of years ago by many different cultures and civilizations. "South and Central Americans Indians made many prehistoric discoveries of drug-bearing plants…Pre-Colombian Mexicans used many substances, from tobacco to mind-expanding (hallucinogenic) plants, in their medicinal collections" (Drug Rehab, 2002). Sacred mushrooms were the most captivating of the substances, which altered states of mind and were used in religious ceremonies. Prior to the 19th century, all substances were natural with no refinement and specific compounds or drugs, had not been extracted.During the 19th century many new drugs were discovered and used for a range of illnesses. New drugs such as cocaine, morphine, and laudanum were unregulated and prescribed by physicians. Morphine was used on wounded veterans during the American Civil war, while cocaine and heroin were sold in the 19th and early 20th centuries as patent medicines. Famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud treated many severely troubled cocaine addicts. He noted that cocaine had a numbing effect, which called to the attention of Carl Koller, a clinical pharmacologist. Koller brought in cocaine as a local anesthetic for surgical procedures. Opium became popular in the 19th century and spread from Asia to the West. An estimated 250,000 people were addicts by the early 1900s (Drug Rehab, 2002).The Reagan era in the 1980s saw a decline in most drugs because of the "Just Say No" campaign, but cocaine and crack use sky-rocketed. The public eye towards drug use started to change. Border patrols were setup for the first time by the military and troops invaded Panama and brought Manuel Noriega to trial for drug trafficking. Cigarettes were once accepted by society and people often thought it was "cool" to smoke. Candy cigarettes were even being...

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