A History of American Drug Use

Before rehab centers such as Narconon existed, drugs haven’t always had the same reputation they have now. Although now perceived as addictive and dangerous, drugs like marijuana and cocaine have undergone several changes over the years to get to the point where they are now. In fact, most currently illegal drugs have gone through stages of use and popularity throughout the centuries of American history. This brief timeline follows this evolution and the reasons behind each change.

Early American History

Although marijuana was being cultivated in North America as far back as the 1600s, other drugs such as opiates and amphetamines did not appear until the latter part of the 1800s. Initially, these types of drugs were perceived to have health benefits; their addictive tendencies were not identified until the end of the Civil War. Here Narconon treatment lists drug use trends:

1600s: Marijuana is grown by Jamestown settlers and used to manufacturer rope and fabric for clothing and ship sails. Recreational use of marijuana by the colonists does not appear to have occurred in these early years.

1803: Scientists create the first usable form of morphine.

1850: Medicinal use of marijuana begins, and the drug is made available to the public in local general stores and pharmacies.

1850s-1860s: Asian workers for the American rail system smoke the drug opium.

1886: The first incarnation of the present-day “Coca-Cola” is created and contains extracts from coca leaves and African kola nuts. Additionally, Surgeon General William Alexander Hammond endorses the drug cocaine for medicinal use in a speech at the New York Neurological Society.

1887: Scientists create the first usable form of amphetamine

1895: Heroin is introduced and later proposed as a treatment for morphine addiction in the early part of the 20th century.

Early 1900s: Health tonics that contain the drugs opium and morphine are available to the public.

1902: America already has approximately 200,000 cocaine addicts.

1920: The cost of alcohol in America increases due to the Volstead Act. As a result, more people turn to smoking marijuana.

1937: Possession or use of marijuana becomes illegal in America.

1943: Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann mistakenly discovers LSD.

Trends in the Mid-20th Century

Originally, the drug LSD was researched by individuals in the field of psychiatry for its potential therapeutic benefits. Later, LSD became increasingly popular for recreational purposes, mainly in the 1960s.

The 1960s also saw a reduction in the use of cocaine and an increase in the use of marijuana. Cocaine came back into favor in the 70s because at the time, the drug was considered innocuous. Simultaneously, the use of amphetamines declined.

The Nation’s War on Drugs

Despite the fact that several drugs had been outlawed for many years (cocaine had been illegal since 1914), the national war on drugs did not officially begin until the 80s, when crack cocaine became increasingly popular as a recreational drug.

1980s: National drug education programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) are instituted, and public service announcements against drug use become widespread. Drug outreach programs are introduced by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA).

1990s: The amount of American federal monies allocated for the war on drugs reaches $17.1 billion.

Modern-Day Trends

Today, alcohol and cigarette use are lower, but marijuana, ecstasy, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are increasingly abused by teens and young adults.

Finding Help

Despite the fact that drug trends gain and lose popularity over time, the trend of addiction remains a prevalent problem. Narconon Cocaine Treatment is an effective treatment center for individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and their families, who are also affected. For information about the program, call 1-800-556-8885.

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