Rehab 101, Article 8: A Brief History of Drug Abuse

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Drugs in various forms have been used by humans since the dawn of time. Recorded history provides us with documentation of this usage, and archeological chemical and DNA testing provide us with further evidence from pre-recorded times. The treatment of drug abuse become modernized in parallel with the medical and psychiatric treatment developed. The Holistic Sanctuary is one of the best drug rehabs which we can recommend.

Let’s take a look at the history of different substances used throughout history.

Alcohol
Alcohol in history is recorded profusely from the first great civilizations in Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq, where the Babylonians, Assyrians, Sumerians, and Akkadians fought for dominance. Thousands of years ago the water levels were higher, and the area was dense agricultural heaven. One of the many fruits and grains being grown were oats and grapes. Oats led to the fermentation of beer and grapes to the fermentation of wine. The wine was used throughout the middle east and is mentioned more than once in the Bible, as well as in other religious scriptures. The beer was drunk in profusion, and the ancient Greeks had a God, Bacchus, dedicated to wine and debauchery’. Alcohol was already an abused substance, and since there were no known regulations or inhibitions to use it, it was used more frequently then depicted in historical works. One instance, the sons of Aaron, Nadav, and Avihu, were killed by a mysterious fire that God sent for trying to offer up incense in the temple while under the influence of alcohol. Wine is symbolic of the blood of Christ, offered to devotees when praying Mass.

Opium
Opium has been a favorite of the Assyrians, Indians, and Egyptians and was cultivated for their narcotic effect. Upper classes and nobility of many ancient civilizations used this as a recreational drug, so modern versions are not new to society, only adaptations of over five thousand years of abuse. In fact, there is one ancient Egyptian scroll that prescribes the use of opium to soothe a crying infant.
Hallucinogens and Natural Highs

The ancient the cults of Dionysus, Demeter and Persephone in classical Greece fermented a special form of mead (made with beer and honey) to induce mysteries, which was their word for hallucinations. These mysteries were most probably the visions that the great Oracle of Delphi provided when asked questions.
The Roman Empire, as a continuation of the Greek Empire, enabled trade from far off lands such as ancient China and India, as well as southern parts of Africa. These traders would bring new and interesting narcotics for the Romans to enjoy.

During the Dark Ages, when trade with the far east was broken off, and the Islam rose, the Europeans went back to alcohol, while a secret order of Assassins, which is an Anglicized word of Hashish (Hemp) a member of the Nizari branch of Ismaili Muslims at the time of the Crusades, when the newly established sect ruled part of northern Persia (1094–1256). They were renowned as militant fanatics and were popularly reputed to use hashish before going on murder missions. (Source: Hodgson, Marshall G. S. (2005). The Secret Order of Assassins: The Struggle of the Early Nizârî Ismâʻîlîs Against the Islamic World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Around this time the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans were playing around with peyote, cannabis, and mescaline for shamanic rites.

Cocaine
The leaves of the coca plant have been used by Peruvians since ancient times, and ever since America’s were open to trade, cocaine has become a tradable drug mainly used for inducing better working conditions from slaves. Cocaine was considered to be a wonder treatment for quite a while. The coca leaf was, and still is, chewed almost universally by some indigenous communities.

It was the Spanish that first started the official trade in cocaine and even legalized, and taxed it by taking 10% of all sales. In 1569, Nicolás Monardes described the indigenous peoples’ practice of chewing a mixture of tobacco and coca leaves to induce “great contentment.” Source: “Drug that spans the ages: The history of cocaine.” London: The Independent (UK). 2006.

Tobacco
Tobacco has long been used in the Americas, with some cultivation sites in Mexico dating back to 1400–1000 BC. Following the arrival of the Europeans to the Americas, tobacco became increasingly popular as a trade item. Tobacco smoking, chewing, and snuffing became a major industry in Europe and its colonies by 1700.

One of the major drugs that came out of the New World was tobacco. Sir Walter Raleigh famously introduced dried tobacco leaves to England, where they were controlled and taxed heavily. Again, abuse of tobacco led to very expensive addictions, as it was a risky but incredibly profitable voyage for those who made it over the Atlantic.

Opium
Opium has been actively collected since prehistoric times, though western scholars typically estimate this to be around 1500 BCE. Indian scholars maintain that the verses and the history contained in them have been orally transmitted thousands of years before. Tablets found at Nippur, a Sumerian spiritual center south of Baghdad, described the collection of poppy juice in the morning and its use in the production of opium. Opium has been traded for over 5,000 years and continues to be grown and traded. During the late middle ages and onwards, ships would carry opium to Europe where all sections of society had access. Opium would be mixed with rum, gin and other beverages. The use of opium as medicine administered to combat pain was common practice. In fact, Morphine, a derivative of Opium became and still is a preferred painkiller used by surgeons during the American Civil War and continues to be used globally. Around 45,000 civil war veterans became opium addicts dye to the excessive use of morphine.
Source: M J Brownstein (June 15, 1993). “A brief history of opiates, opioid peptides, and opioid receptors”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 90 (12): 5391–5393

Opium trade led to the opium war between Great Britain and China, where the British forced the routes to remain open.

From the end of the 19th century, cocaine and heroine were synthesized from their various sources and drugs have been growing in potency ever since. In modern times LSD, designer drugs (synthetic opiates) are being continuously marketed.