Substance Abuse And Addiciton: A Very Brief History

1522 words - 6 pages

Substance abuse can include any substance or substances such as alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, cigarettes etc. Any and all of these can become addictive to people very quickly. For years,
people believed that addiction was a willful vice that they do to themselves. For years is has been viewed as an individual problem instead of a social problem.
Americans today have many different views than 100 years ago about addiction, alcohol and drugs. In the early days of the 19th century, it was only a dream that a drug could save a life. Today drugs are used for specific treatments of specific diseases. However, they are also a multi billion-dollar business both legal and illegal that is not only saving millions of lives but also destroying millions of lives.
The first revolution of substances in the early 19th century brought diseases under control with the use of vaccines. These substances/vaccines helped convince the public that medicine was capable of producing drugs with powerful and selective benefits.
The second pharmacological revolution resulted from the introduction of sulfa drugs, penicillin and others. First effective during World War II, they were used as treatments for injuries and infections.
The third pharmacological revolution was the development of psychopharmacology that began in the 1950’s. This period saw the introduction of antipsychotic drugs for the treatment of major psychotic disorders. These drugs freed thousands of patients from long-term hospitalization. It helped restructure our approach to mental illnesses on several levels. Because of these advances in psychopharmacology, we came to except the notion that drugs can have powerful effects on our emotions and our perceptions. Perhaps the psychopharmacological revolution of the 1950’s helped set the stage for the “psychedelic experimentation” of the 1960’s.
The fourth pharmacological revolution was the development of the oral contraceptive, which contributed to the sexual revolution, beginning to occur in the 1950’s and has not yet been stabilized. With oral contraceptives, they are not being used to prevent or treat disease but were being used by people to gain chemical control over their bodies. This may have helped pave the way for attempts to control emotion and thoughts by using chemistry.
Drinking is okay, but drunkenness is not. Alcohol use was widely accepted since the time of first settlements. Due to Protestant reformers they discovered that drunkenness was viewed as a serious problem, often punished by putting a man in stocks for such an offense. Clearly the blame was on the sinner, not the alcohol itself.
The view of alcohol as a cause of serious problems began in America soon after the American Revolution. Some people even to this day view alcohol as the devil of the demon. The first psychoactive substance to become demonized in American culture was alcohol. It led the way for similar views concerning...

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