Drug abuse has plagued America since the 1800s, when morphine,
heroin and cocaine were praised for their amazing curative properties. By the
mid-20th century, however, illicit drug use was all but abolished in the US
through focused national and global suppression of the industry. All that
changed in the 1960s when many new and exotic drugs, such as hallucinogens,
amphetamines and marijuana, became more readily available during the hippie
movement. The rapid increase of these substances created
many government agencies, all mandated to counter the burden of illegal drugs.
These bureaucracies, in turn, needed statistical information in order to
effectively understand the scope of their task. In due course, they discovered
that: cocaine users were an average of 1.3 million per year during 1980-1984,
which then dwindled to around 536,000 by 1994. A shocking fact that that the
bureaucracy had found was that between 1992 and 1993, 5.5 perfect of American
pregnant woman had confessed to taking illicit drugs when conceiving.
The Indians, Assyrians and Egyptians were cultivating and
preparing opium from the opium poppy. Indeed, the upper classes of many
civilizations would use this to relax and pass time, although some uses are
much less compassionate. Opium eventually made it to China, and
the locals traded with other countries such as the French and the Dutch. It
started arriving in Europe and the Americas in bulk in the late 17th century,
when it promptly became a problem.
With improved ships that could carry more cargo, traders could get
almost anywhere in the world and bring back whatever they could get their hands
on. Without control, drugs spread like wildfire through middle and upper
society. The poor were no better off; in Europe-particularly in Britain-gin had
become a nuisance thanks to some exceptionally poorly thought-out laws, and in
the Americas, cannabis, rum and beer were proving problematic for colonists.