The history of drug usage and prohibition in the United States is very interesting. Until 1914, most of the drugs were legal, and it was very easy to purchase them at pharmacies or even on the streets. However, as time passed, the situation has changed. Thus, various drugs that were legal one century ago are banned but still accessible in the modern world.
During the period of 1865-1900s, it was lawful to purchase and use drugs. When it comes to opium, it was extremely popular among Chinese immigrants in the US. American physicians who believed opium to be a miraculous cure for various diseases also utilized and recommended it to their patients. Hence, physicians used the recommended doses of opium as a medicine. Although the majority did not consider opium harmful, some people believed that there was increasing negative treatment of Chinese immigrants in the US. Thus, opium as a drug received a negative connotation, and the authorities eventually banned it.
Similarly, cocaine was also perfectly legal more than a century ago. One could buy it in a pharmacy, from a doctor, or on the street. Various people used the drug since they believed that it increased productivity. Thus, employers often gave it to African American employees so they would work faster and better. Nevertheless, soon people realized that cocaine was not a drug to increase productivity but to cause serious threats. The reason was that behavior of users changed, they became more aggressive and were strongly addicted, which caused the decrease in the popularity of the drug. As a result, society felt the urge to prohibit the drug, and long before 1914, there were limitations on its use in various states.
Talking about heroin, the story is even more interesting. The reason is that at first, people believed heroin to be as a cure for morphine addiction. As a result, physicians recommended it to people to battle against such medical condition. Moreover, soldiers received it to become “heroic” (this is where the name of the drug comes from). Apparently, people regarded heroin as a medicine, not as a harmful substance. As a result, people in the US could obtain it easily from doctors, pharmacists, or even while being on duty. In 1914, it was legal to sell the drug only with a doctor’s prescription, and only in 1924, there was a ban on selling, manufacture, or import of this drug.
Although at the present moment, drugs that were legal during 1865-1900s are banned, people still abuse drugs greatly. A good example is methamphetamine usage. People use it because it stimulates the brain, creates a feeling of well-being and makes people feel good for a short time. In other words, people use it to experience some sort of euphoria. Thus, almost half a million people use this drug; however, the numbers are declining comparing to the previous years. Methamphetamine is the most popular drug among young adults, and usually a person tries it for the first time when he or she is 19.
Hallucinogens are also rather popular and widespread. Similarly to methamphetamine, a young population actively use these drugs. People use these drugs because they create various images inside a person’s head. For instance, a person may see amazing hallucinations which may be either realistic or fantastic. Thus, people often take the drugs to experience the visions they would not see in the real world, or simply to distract themselves from routine and things which occupy them at the present moment. People usually have crooked perception of hallucinogens, viewing them as drugs which do not have serious effects on the body or mind of a person. That is why people often do not regard the usage of these drugs as a serious issue. Apparently, more than a million people use this type of drug, and the vast majority of abusers are people with poor social standing.
Talking about the most popular drug, it is marijuana. Many consider it less harmful than alcohol, which explains the popularity of the drug. Also, people practice it in some religions. The other reason for using this drug is the attitude people have developed toward it, namely they consider it something that one should not take seriously and could use with no future harms. Almost 19 million of Americans use it, and some states already made it legal, although this process is a very complicated one, leading to debates among activists from different groups. Marijuana is popular among people who are not even eighteen, and a large majority considers it the most common drug among high school students and young college students. Despite the idea that marijuana does not lead to addiction, more than four million of Americans have reported that they developed marijuana addiction. People usually smoke marijuana to relax because this drug gives them a feeling of carelessness, relaxation, makes them happy or cheerful, and helps to release various problems. That is why many people consider it a recreational drug, disregarding its negative impact on human body and brainwork.
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Thus, it is obvious that drug abuse is a serious issue in the United States and throughout the world in general. During 1865-1900s, drugs were easily accessible and the aim of their use was solely medical. However, even though nowadays the drug use is unlawful, people abuse drugs, and it leads to many negative consequences such as addiction, health problems, and unsocial behavior. That is why it is important to decrease the usage of drugs by passing stricter laws, leading an effective social campaign, and helping people to overcome drug addiction.