Substance Abuse in America

Topics: Drug addiction, Cocaine, Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs Pages: 4 (1188 words) Published: March 24, 2013
Substance abuse in America
America has a problem with drugs. In order to understand the problem, we first need to understand what is considered a drug. It is “any ingestible substance that has a noticeable effect on the mind or body”. (Schmalleger, 2011) Drugs are used for medicinal as well as recreational purposes. Unfortunately both types of drugs have played a role in American culture. Drugs have been part of the American culture as far back as the 1800’s. Using drugs for medicinal purposes existed before the 1800’s but it was during the years 1850 to 1914 when America suffered from what was considered the first epidemic of drug use.

Opium and Cocaine
During the 1800’s one of the medicinal uses of opiates was targeted toward women for the treatment of “female troubles”. Another interesting aspect of the culture was that alcohol consumption was thought to be unpopular for women but more acceptable for men. The use of opium would not be frowned upon like drinking alcohol would be. These reasons may be contributing factors to the higher incidents of women using opiates. Cocaine gained popularity in America the late 1800’s as it was used for medicinal purposes in throat lozenges and tonics. “In 1886 John Pemberton of Atlanta, Georgia began to market "Coca-Cola," syrup derived from coca leaves and African kola nuts. The same year Dr. William Alexander Hammond, the Surgeon-General of the U.S. Army endorsed the medical use of cocaine at a meeting of the New York Neurological Society. Throughout the early 1900’s unregulated medicinal "tonics" were sold containing ingredients including cocaine and opium. By 1902 there were an estimated 200,000 cocaine addicts in the United States, and by 1907, U.S. coca leaf imports were three times their 1900 levels.” (The Buyers - A Social History of America's Most Popular Drugs | Drug Wars | FRONTLINE | PBS, n.d.)

Harrison Narcotics Tax Act
In 1914, the Congress of the United States passed...
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