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Drugs and Society

Since the drugs first appeared in the USA, the attitude towards them has undergone multiple transformations. At first, drug use was not regarded as a problem but merely as an aristocratic whim. Later, as more people become engaged, more policies prohibiting drugs started to appear. To combat the proliferation of narcotics, the US government commenced resorting to various diplomatic measures, yet, by the beginning of the 1960s, the number of people using illegal drugs has drastically increased. Moreover, researchers observe that the change in the type of drugs being used had taken place.

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For instance, while opium was especially widespread at the beginning of the century, the drugs that alter mood and consciousness (hallucinogens) became most popular during this later period (Hart, Ray, & Ksir, 2013). In the perception of the revolting youth, drugs served as a means for opposition to capitalism and establishment. The widespread use of drugs strongly influenced both culture and society. For instance, new genres in music based on the drug culture were developed, such as psychedelic rock, and the pacifist movement was on the rise. At the same time, opium and its derivatives passed into the category of legal drugs with a marked impact. As a response to current shifts, the government tried to tighten the relevant laws and increase control over both types of drugs – legal and illegal. For instance, in 1973, the Drug Enforcement Agency was established, which was responsible for research and prevention efforts.

Since 1971, the US government started to deploy a large-scale drug prohibiting campaign, also known as the “war on drugs.” However, despite the significant investments in the campaign, it did not have a serious positive impact and failed to reduce the rate of drug addiction among Americans. According to recent statistics, throughout 2007-2013, illicit marijuana use has increased from 14.5 million to 19.8 million (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2015). At the same time, most of the prevention efforts and funds are spent on consumers of cannabis. The legalization of marijuana may be regarded as an alternative method of dealing with this issue.

It is suggested that, like all businesses, drug dealing is driven by demand and supply. Thus, by reducing the demand among users, it may be possible to weaken the illegal industry. Nevertheless, such an approach is associated with multiple risks as well. The opponents of medical marijuana claim that it is as highly addictive as any other drug. Moreover, it is reported that “repeated marijuana use during adolescence may result in long-lasting changes in brain function that can jeopardize educational, professional, and social achievements” (Baler, Compton, Volkow, & Weiss, 2014, p. 1). Therefore, although the use of hemp may be beneficial as a medical remedy, the recreational use of this drug is still highly risky and may be inappropriate.

Cocaine is a fast-acting drug that has a substantial impact on the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. The method through which it is consumed largely influences the severity of the drug’s impact on an individual, degree of addiction, and treatment outcomes. Kiluk, Babuscio, Nich, & Carroll (2013) state that when smoked, “cocaine achieves maximal concentration and effect far more rapidly” than when it is consumed inter-nasally (p. 490). It is observed that patients who prefer internasal administration are usually more committed to treatment and, as a result, the intervention is associated with more favorable outcomes in them. The method of drug administration is also linked to the overall social-emotional functioning of individuals. For instance, cocaine smokers tend to be less successful in professional and academic spheres. They have more serious problems with financial performance due to a stronger degree of dependence on the drug. However, Kiluk et al. (2013) note that cocaine negatively affects all individuals’ life despite the route of administration. The only significant difference between the methods of use is thus the association of snorting with the possibility of prolonged abstinence and better post-treatment outcomes.


Baler, R., Compton, W., Volkow, N. & Weiss, S. (2014). Adverse health effects of marijuana use. The New England Journal of Medicine. 370: 2219-2227. Web.

Hart, C. L., Ray, O., & Ksir, C. (2013). Drugs, society & human behavior. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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Kiluk, B. D., Babuscio, T. A., Nich, C., & Carroll, K. M. (2013). Smokers versus snorters: Do treatment outcomes differ according to route of cocaine administration? Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 21(6), 490–498. Web.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). Nationwide trends. Web.

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