Drugs have been used for a variety of reasons in different cultures:
Altering states of consciousness
Relief of pain and distress
Fermentation – A combustive process in which yeasts interact with the sugars in plants such as grapes, grains, and fruits to produce an enzyme that converts the sugar into alcohol. Alcohol was probably discovered following accidental fermentation
The use of a drug in one culture does not mean people in another culture were at the same time exposed to or using that substance. Instead, cultures (now, as well as then) are characterized by both diversity and similarity in their patterns of drug use.
Indians whom Columbus encountered introduced him and later explorers to tobacco and other psychoactive plants, including peyote , while Europeans, in turn, introduced alcohol to the New World
In cases such as the Opium Wars between China and Great Britain, the British acted to keep the drug trade open and flourishing despite the fact that millions of Chinese men had become addicted to opium brought to China by British traders.
The British did not witness such a degree of addiction among users in England despite the fact that opium was widely used in medicine.
Morphine – A derivative of opium that is best known as a potent pain-relieving medication
Narcotic – A central nervous system depressant that contains sedative and pain-relieving compounds
Patent Medicines – Products that were sold, most often in the 19 th century, as medicines that would cure a host of illnesses and diseases. Examples include Godfrey’s Cordial and Mrs. Wilson’s Soothing Syrup
Minor tranquilizers became popular in the 1950s and are among the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs in this country today
Solvent inhaling also appeared in the 1950s and is still a serious problem among boys in their teens.
Solvent – A substance, usually a liquid or gas, that contains one or more intoxicating components, examples are glue, gasoline, lighter fluids, cleaning solvents, nonstick frying-pan sprays, and more recently, sniffing of correction fluids.
Club drugs – Drugs used by young adults at all night dance parties such as “raves” and “trances” and at dance clubs and bars. Examples are: MDMA, GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol (date rape drug)
Heroin was first synthesized in the late 1890s and has traditionally been used by lower and higher socioeconomic groups. The exception is during the Vietnam War when there was a high incidence of use among U.S. soldiers in Vietnam.
Medicinal uses of psychoactive substances (whether folk medicine or more contemporary medicine), medical science, and nonmedical drug use and abuse will always be closely intertwined
In the past, folk or cultural use of a substance often became incorporated into the practice of medicine. More common today is that a substance developed for the practice of medicine is incorporated into the array of drugs used in nonmedicinal ways
Legislation is the main way society establishes formal guidelines for drug use and the central means for addressing its concerns about drugs
The San Francisco Ordinance of 1875 – Only notable law regarding drug use in the 19 th century that had any effect. Opium dens were banned (not the smoking of opium) and the larger, more obvious dens closed, though the number of smaller dens increased. The law set the stage for drug regulation in other parts of the country, as other cities passed similar ordinances in later years.
Pure Food and Drug Act – Passed in 1906 and designed to control opiate addiction by legislating that producers of medicines must indicate on the packaging the amount of drug contained in their product. The Act focused primarily on the opiates opium, morphine, and heroin, but also mandated the accurate labeling of products that contain alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine.
The Pure Food and Drug Act did not ban opiates in patent medicines thus had little impact on addicts at the time, but did decrease the number of new addicts due to subsequent political and educational efforts to describe the addictive potential of patent medicines containing opiates
The Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914 strictly regulated, but did not prohibit, the legal supply of certain drugs, particularly the opiates. It stated that the marketing and prescribing of these drugs required licensing.
The act restricted manufacturers of patent medicines by requiring that they “not contain more than two grains of opium, or more than one-fourth of a grain of morphine, or more than one-eighth of a grain of heroin … in one avoirdupois ounce”.
The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution passed in 1920, better known as the Volstead Act, prohibited the production, sale, transportation, and importing of alcohol in any part of the United States.
The act defined an “intoxicating beverage” as one containing more than 0.5% alcohol.
Prohibition – The legislative forbidding of the sale of a substance, as in the alcohol Prohibition era in the United States, 1920-1933
Prohibition was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment 13 years later and is cited as a drug-use control measure that failed overall, however it did have a substantial effect on drinking in the U.S.
Drinking was reduced by one-third to one-half and there were decreases in death rates attributable to liver cirrhosis, admission rates to hospitals for treatment of alcoholism, and arrest rates for alcohol-related offenses
Undesired consequences associated with Prohibition included: increase in coffee intake, more extensive use of marijuana, shift in drinking habits from beer to distilled spirits ,advent of the speakeasy, takeover of alcohol distribution by criminal groups.
Speakeasy – A slang expression used to describe a saloon operating without a license; popularly used during Prohibition
Provisions for adding drugs to the schedules and for rescheduling drugs, i.e., Valium and other benzodiazepines were unscheduled when act was passed but were classified as Schedule IV drugs in 1975, and substances such as Benzedrine and Seconal were reclassified from Schedule III to Schedule II during the early 1970s
Establishes penalties for criminal manufacture or distribution of the scheduled drugs with increases based on quantity involved and number of previous offenses
Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act – Allowed for the immediate classification of a substance as a controlled substance.
Passed in 1986 in response to the production of designer drugs - drugs structurally similar but not identical to illegal substances – that were difficult to control due to the time-consuming process of documenting the drug and having it certified as a controlled substance.
Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988 – Controls distribution of particular chemicals, tabulating and encapsulating machines used in the manufacture of illicit substances
Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996 – Restricts access to chemicals used to make methamphetamine, monitor purchases of these preparation chemicals, increase penalties for the possession of chemicals or equipment used in the production of methamphetamine and for trafficking and manufacturing the drug.
Hallmark features are efforts to catch drug smugglers and sellers (in this country and overseas) and a zero-tolerance approach to even casual drug users
Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on efforts to intercept drugs, most experts conclude the effort has been a failure and the flow of drugs into the Unites States has not been significantly altered