Since the founding fathers declared independence from England, our country has been struggling with drug abuse. Take into account the world as a whole, and one quickly sees that men and women have been using foreign substances to alter their mental states for thousands and thousands of years. Rather than spend excessive amounts of time detailing the entire history of drug abuse down through the ages, the following article hopes to shed light on some of the most important moments throughout the decades.
Opium and Drug Abuse History
When the Ming Dynasty of China placed a ban on the smoking of tobacco in the 17th century, the country began a long “love affair” with opium. Opium abuse and addiction remained a problem in the country for centuries. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, China struggled with widespread opium addiction, and when many Chinese immigrants moved to other countries (including the United States) they brought the drug with them – thus paving the way for the smuggling routes that continue to this day.
American History 101: United States Declares War on Drugs
With the possible exception of the Prohibition Era of the 1920’s, no period had as much impact on the American state of substance abuse than the 1970’s. It was during this time of relaxed attitudes towards drug abuse that President Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” and enacted a series of laws that still impact our society to this day. Thanks to Nixon (and in the 1980’s President Reagan), individuals could be more easily jailed as a result of drug-related offenses, and today our prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders as a result.
The Crack Cocaine Epidemic
During the 1980’s and 1990’s the United States was in the grip of a crack cocaine epidemic. Countless men and women saw their lives thrown into ruin as a result of this powerful, inexpensive and highly addictive form of rock cocaine. The streets of major cities were filled with individuals willing to sell or do anything in order to obtain their next fix. And although the mania surrounding crack would eventually die down in the late 90’s, this period was unlike any other in the annals of America’s drug abuse history.
Afghanistan, Terrorism and the Drug Trade
The poppy flower used to produce heroin is abundant in the country of Afghanistan, which is in fact the biggest producer of heroin in the world. In addition to creating a number of opium addicts, this lucrative business has also provided the financing for a number of terrorists operations around the world. As the United States and its allies fight a dangerous war in this mountainous country, they are encountering a drug problem that threatens the future of potential addicts and Western countries across the globe.