Addictive drug use dates back at least to 5000 B.C. when Sumerians were using opium as a joyful release or celebration. Even medicinal use of marijuana was used as early as 2737 B.C. But why has it been accepted in culture to use drugs throughout the history of mankind? During the American Civil War, strong addictive drugs such as morphine were given freely to the wounded to use with hypodermic needles. By the early 1900s, there were an estimated 250,000 addicts in the United States. Problems related to addiction were only recognized gradually, but the damage was already done. In order to curb some of these addictive behaviors, the 1914 Harrison Narcotic Act was put into place to upend the sale of substantial doses of opiates or cocaine as well as only allowed licensed professionals to prescribe it.
In 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act repealed, revamped and updated all previous federal laws that were focused on narcotics in order to bring to light the various dangers of abusing these drugs. But the problem lies in the behavior and acceptance that society puts on these drugs. Alcohol, which is considered a drug and a very addictive one at that, is constantly displayed as a positive behavior. It seems like people have more fun when they are drinking or taking drugs, which leads to the falsehood that drugs won’t make you addicted.
“I think implementation of programs of parental awareness, of making sure those parents realize prescriptions need to be disposed of properly, recognizing that they need to share with their children the dangers that are out there with all types of drug abuse. Not that it isn’t the school’s responsibility with the D.A.R.E program, or something similar, but I think it really starts at home,” federal parole and probation officer Vanessa Starr said.
As people moved through these drugs, looking for a different high, other drugs were then created and abused. Some drugs are labeled as gateway drugs, which means that one drug is habit-forming that while not itself addictive, can lead to the use of other addictive drugs. A sequence of a gateway drug for an addict could be alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, then onto harder drugs such as prescription pills, hallucinogens, heroin and then cocaine, according to the University of Washington School of Medicine.
“The marijuana that someone smoked in 1960 is not the same marijuana that someone is going to smoke in 2017,” Starr said. “The dangers that come along with the advancement of all those drugs are greater.”
Written By: Casey Semenza