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History of Drug Abuse

Updated on June 29, 2009
Various kinds of illegal drugs
Various kinds of illegal drugs

From man's earliest days various plants and crude chemicals have been used to treat illnesses. 

The foxglove was found to help certain types of heart disease and the juice of the poppy pod to relieve pain and have a tranquillizing effect. Highly refined extracts of these plants are still used today as Digoxin and Morphine.

Many useful drugs have side effects and if these give pleasurable sensations or affect the mind there is a danger of misuse which can damage the human body. Morphine is such an example. 

Opium and cocaine have been both used and abused for centuries. Other mind-altering or psychotropic substances have been used including hashish (pot), peyotyl, etc. Some of these were originally used as part of heathen religious rites. Others induced an unnatural state of intoxication but had their side effect in lethargy. 

Barbiturates came along in the early 1900s. At first they were hailed as the answer to insomnia, among other things, but it was soon apparent that patients became dependent and could not manage without them. 

Amphetamines were synthesized in the 1920s to combat fatigue. Again abuse was soon rife when they came to be used as 'pick-me-ups' and 'pep pills'. 

Safer sedatives came with the early 1950s. The most popular of these were — and still are — Diazepam and Valium. These are widely abused, over-prescribed, and their side effects little understood by those consuming them. 

The abuse of highly dangerous, illegal drugs has been widespread since the 1960s. It has, however, been present in some form for centuries.

Today the trade in illegal drugs is the single greatest threat to societies all over the world. 

Types of Illegal Drugs

Drug pushers even lurk around school playgrounds in many Western cities. Drugs are dispensed at parties, some specially organized for the purpose. The days when raincoated men sold drugs furtively in darkened alleys is long past.

Even for first-time users of illegal or controlled drugs there are tremendous dangers. A first-time user of heroin often experiences vomiting and nausea. Hallucinogenic drugs like LSD can produce 'bad trips' and frightening experiences. Worse still, accidental overdoses can lead to unconsciousness and sometimes death.

The exact effect of a drug is dependent, to some extent, upon our personalities and psychological make-up. Hence even effects of first- time use are unpredictable.

Those who introduce young people to drugs at all-night parties usually make them sound innocuous by giving them various slang names. Most illegal drugs are adulterated and diluted by the time they reach the 'consumer'. The pushers, and the syndicates behind them, make more profit if the product goes further. Police have found that drugs are diluted with anything from scouring powder to rat poison. Hence hospitalization can result, not only from the drug itself, but from the additives.

Illegal drugs are commonly mixed. Mixing depressant drugs is especially dangerous and can prove fatal. Other complex interactions can also occur.

`Tolerance' develops with the continued use of a drug. Tolerance is where the body adapts to the repeated presence of a drug and in this way reduces its effectiveness. This means that the user will have to take larger quantities and be placed in greater danger of a fatal overdose.

Because drugs alter co-ordination and vision, accidents frequently occur to people under their influence. Crossing the road or operating machinery can prove fatal even to the first-time drug user.

If drugs are abused over a period of time and in sufficient quantities, dependence on the drug will develop. The addict's life becomes dominated by the drug. Even before this stage has been reached the price paid in terms of both body and mind is horrendous.

Eventually every area of life becomes entwined with the drug until only one thing counts: getting more.


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      6 years ago

      hub up man.the feature is for surplement not 4 scientist drugs .

    • profile image

      Erin Holladay 

      8 years ago

      It is interesting how our opinions have been so shaped over time by politics and culture. What is normal in one country is taboo here.


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