The Drug Culture

3816 Words15 Pages
Introduction Use of psychoactive substances for recreational purposes is not a radically new social issue. In fact, history tells us that almost every society had their own pharmacopeia of herbs, potions, and substances that not only contributed to healing, but also allowed the user to escape reality (Schules 1992, 4-5). However, it is the contemporary use of psychoactive drugs purchased through illicit or illegal channels and used by persons neither prescribed nor in quantities larger than necessary that defines modern drug abuse (Robins 2006). Prior to World War I, substances like morphine, heroin, and cocaine were available in the major American cities, particularly those with active international ports. For instance, when Chinese immigrants were first imported to work in the mines and railroads during the early 1800s, they brought opium to America. It was the leisure class, who began to experiment with this drug, and, as in Europe, many major U.S. cities had so-called opium dens. In addition, there were a substantial number of "society women" who ended up addicted because their doctor prescribed this drug to deal with female histrionics or to "cure" an excessive sexual appetite (Johnson 2002). Within major cities, this problem began to spill over into other groups: prostitutes, child laborers, orphans, and even men and women of lower social classes seeking to escape the harshness of their lives (Courtwright 2002, 3-19). Between the widespread use and general
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