Throughout the last
years, humans have used psychoactive drugs to alter their
perception of reality for a variety of reasons. By studying the history of drug use and
abuse, a number of historical themes become apparent.
. There is a basic need of human beings to cope with their environment and
enhance their existence.
2. Human brain chemistry can be affected by psychoactive drugs, behavioral
addictions, and mental illness to induce an altered state of consciousness.
3. The ruling classes, governments, and businesses have always been involved in
trying to control the drug trade, often using it as a source of revenue through
trade and taxes.
4. Technological advances in refining, synthesizing, and manufacturing
psychoactive drugs have increased their potency and abuse liability.
5. Users and researchers have discovered new ways of taking drugs so they reach
the brain faster, thus increasing their abuse liability.
For example, opium was used originally for medicinal and spiritual purposes.
people found that opium had mental effects because of the way it manipulated the brain's
own natural chemicals especially endorphins, the body's own painkillers, they used it to
change their mental/emotional state
. When people learned to smoke it, when it became a
lucrative source of income for governments and trading companies, when it was refined
to the stronger morphine and heroin, when the hypodermic needle was able to put it
directly into the bloodstream, then legal, social, and health problems multiplied.
The discovery of various psychoactive plants (opium poppy, coca bush, coffee bean,
and tobacco plants) in the past and the subsequent synthesis of hundreds of
other psychoactive substances, has led to a medicine chest full drugs, some useful and
some desirable but all causing problems when abused.
In the twenty-first century alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, opioids (especially
prescription drugs), crystal methamphetamine, and ecstasy are the most widely used.
Their popularity goes through cycles; cocaine in the 1880s, the 1910s and '20s, and the