Past and Current Trends of Drug Use in the United States

Tags: Stimulant, Depressant, Methamphetamine

Drug use in the United States has always been an issue, more so now than ever before. The abuse of prescription drugs by users of every age group is increasing at an alarming rate. The implications of drug use are a public health problem that affects society on many levels. Alcohol, once an illegal substance, is now an accepted, if not expected, drug in the American culture. This paper will discuss the past and current trends of drug use and how American culture supports and encourages the use of drugs. Cultural acceptance of narcotics for medical use and the health problems resulting from drug abuse will also discussed.

Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887. The medical community popularized the use of amphetamine in the 1920s, using it to raise blood pressure, as a stimulant for the nervous system and to enlarge the nasal passages. A decade later the drug was sold over the counter as an inhaler, which led to the rise in its abuse. Amphetamines were used in World War II by soldiers to fight off fatigue, increase endurance and combat depression. During the 1950s the practice of injecting methamphetamines began, but did not become popular until the 1960s with pharmacies in San Francisco selling an injectable form of amphetamines. The use of amphetamines declined in the 1970s because of public awareness, but returned in the 1990s with crystal methamphetamine, commonly called ice, a smokable form of the drug. In more recent times, users include athletes looking for increased performance, truck drivers needing to drive long hours and students wanting assistance in studying, as well as recreational users (WGBH educational foundation, 2008).

Drug use and abuse is supported and encouraged in many ways in the American culture. According to Carroll (2000), people have used beer, wine and distilled spirits for centuries. Nearly every culture has experienced the phenomenon of drinking because people like the effects that alcoholic beverages have on them. Alcohol...
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