Although National Prohibition did not take effect in the 1920's, there were a series of laws that attempted to restrict alcohol consumption. Such as the 18th amendment and the Volstead Act.
In 1697, the first American alcohol law was passed in New York. The law stated that all saloons must be closed on Sunday, because Sunday was a day of worship.
In 1735, the first statewide prohibition began in the state of Georgia. This was a complete failure and was quickly banned seven years later, in 1742.
In 1851, Maine was the second state in the history of America to attempt statewide prohibition, and it turned out to be a major success. By 1855, 12 more had joined Maine in becoming dry. These were the most successful alcohol prohibition laws passed in the United States.
In 1880, after the Civil War, women joined the dries and and soon the temperance movement was back in full force. Many prohibitions were proposed afterwards, such as, drugs, tobacco, and the closing of theaters, but the only one to ever catch on was alcohol.
By 1900, more than half the United States had become dry. The prohibitionists thought there was no possible way for any person to get liquor in a dry state. Unfortunately, for the dry states, there was a loophole, the postal service. Because the postal service was run by the federal government, and not the state government, liquor could be mail ordered from a wet state. This infuriated the dries, and in 1913 the Interstate Liquor Act was passed. This act made it impossible for liquor to be sold to any dry state. This was actually a loss for the dry states because this made methods of getting liquor illegal and the liquor industry soon went hand in hand with crime. Also the government got taxes.
In 1917, the 18th amendment was proposed to ban the manufacture of liquor. Many states did not agree on this causing this proposal to be in debate for almost 2 years. By 1920, 33 states had voted themselves dry. Then the movement for national prohibition was passed. The Prohibition Party had finally won its biggest victory yet.
January 29, 1919 the 18th amendment was ratified and and only liquor with 40% alcohol content, (80 proof) were banned. Officially it banned the "manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes." Many people supported this act, thinking that is was only banning hard liquors, and thinking that a glass of wine with dinner or a beer after work would be fine. The Amendment took effect one year later on January 29, 1920. However, in October of 1919, the Volstead Act was passed. The Volstead Act banned all alcohol that had 1/2 % alcohol content. This effectively banned all forms of alcoholic beverages, with the exception of some non-alcoholic beers.
After the 18th amendment was ratified, the Volstead Act was brought into the light by the prohibition supporters. Many of the original supporters of the 18th amendment were left empty handed and felt betrayed.
Another group that felt betrayed were the World War I Veterans, returning home from France and had seen first hand that alcohol in modest quantities could be mixed with everyday life. Coming home from the war and finding out those evangelists, reformers, and dries had won a total victory added to bitterness of the veterans.
All In all, the dries came out of the woodwork and won the battle for prohibition. The fatal mistake was to ban all types of alcohol, which lost the Prohibition Party and most of it's' followers.
Because prohibition failed, alcohol is a highly abused substance. And for many people drugs and alcohol go hand in hand. The most abused form of alcohol is beer. While the most abused drug is marijuana. Drugs and alcohol often play a role in the three leading causes of death in adults and young adults: motor vehicle crashes, homicides, and suicides. More than 1/3 (41%) of all pedestrians 16 years of age and older, killed in traffic crashes, in 2002, were intoxicated. The highest intoxication rates in fatal accidents in 2002, were recorded for driver 21-24 years old (33%), followed by ages 25-34 (26%), and 35-44 (26%). In these crashes the intoxication rate for pedestrians was nearly triple that rate for drivers- 34% and 13%. 68% of the 34% (15,019) people killed in such crashes, themselves were drunken .The remaining 32%, and were passengers, nonintoxicated drivers, or nonintoxicated nonoccupants. From 1992 to 2002, intoxication rates decreased for drivers of all age groups involved in fatal crashes, except for drivers 45 to 64 years of age.
Approximately one person is injured every two minutes where police report that alcohol or drugs were present. Also, approximately 1.4 million drivers were arrested in 2001 for DUI of drugs and narcotics. Such as codeine, heroin, opium, and morphine. Every 1 in 137 people pulled over are for these reasons.
Even worse about 40% of all teens have tried marijuana, 9% have tried cocaine, and 22% use one or the other on a daily basis. Marijuana and crack/cocaine can hinder memory, problem solving, and learning. They can also cause mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
The highest rates of illicit drug use are found among youth ages 14-17, with marijuana being the most common used. Approximately, 8% of the nations 8th graders; 24% of 10th graders; and 32% of 12th graders have been drunk or high in the last month.
If prohibition had been taken more seriously, drugs and alcohol probably would not be as bad and common as they are. They would still be illegal. Therefore, only certain people would have access to them and fewer deaths would be caused. People smuggling in alcoholic beverages would put in jail and fined, making more people afraid to go out while drunken.
Concluding, prohibition could have helped us out a lot, without being pushed to far. Maybe with prohibition, the United States would be a much better place to live, with much less to worry about.