Within the last century, drug abuse and addiction have become a serious problem. Various reasons have led to abuse and addiction, but I feel it is important to examine the history of drugs. I chose to examine cocaine and learn how it has led to addiction and abuse in society. The psychoactive effects of the cocoa plant was discovered over 5,000 years ago as cocaine was released from the plant. Due to the effects of the plant, humans realized they could make money by selling cocoa plants. In 1857, the plant was introduced in Europe, naming it cocaine (Advokat, Comaty, Julien, 2014, p. 203). Cocaine was added to beverages and once hypodermic needles were invented, cocaine was used for anesthesia. Further exploration of the drug continued to occur and discovered other benefits including treating depression and opioid addiction. Over several years, humans observed behavioral changes, side effects, and many fatalities as a result of the toxins. Cocaine use in medications and beverages were then banned and other amphetamines became available at a cheaper rate, with comparison effects that cocaine produced. After the cost of amphetamines rose, cocaine became popular again until methamphetamines became more readily available and inexpensive. As time progresses, various forms of cocaine use have been discovered such as smoking and snorting. The rate of absorption varies based on how it is used. As the drug begins to wear off, individuals begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms and chasing the effects of the drug the brain changes that occur, and before they know it, they can become addicted. Similar to cocaine, the effects of using epinephrine, methamphetamines, and amphetamines were discovered. As time went on a new formulation of amphetamine was created and became a popular substance for use as it provided similar effects, but was a cheaper alternative. Cannabis was first used recreationally and then for medical purposes. A tax was passed on the medical use of marijuana which then ended the medical use of cannabis. However, the courts overturned this law and marijuana became available for medical, which in turn led to cannabis becoming legalized in several states and is now used recreationally and for medical purposes. Over time, more effects of using drugs were discovered, more individuals began using for various reasons, new forms of absorption were discovered, drugs were used more frequently, and abuse began. Drugs are easily accessible and it appears that once the effects of drugs are discovered as time goes on, cheaper and alternative formulas are discovered, more people begin to use for various reasons, and new methods of absorptions are discovered. This drug pattern appears to be similar amongst most psychoactive drugs. Thus, leading to addiction and abuse. Examining the history of drugs provides an understanding of how abuse and addiction has developed over the past several years.
The reasons for addiction and abuse varies, however, the society we live in makes drugs easily accessible. As seen in the information provided above, individuals sell drugs to make money. If individuals are selling drugs as income, why would they not be encouraging individuals to purchase drugs, regardless of the effects? I feel that genes and the environment also play a role in addiction. Addicts that I have encountered often report that they have a family history of addiction. Individuals who grow up in homes where drugs are used oftentimes end up becoming users. I believe it is because growing up in an environment where using occurs and is observed, children and family members observe this behavior and then mimic the behavior often leading to dependency or abuse. Socially, individuals may want a sense of belonging or don’t know how to cope with various situations that arise and turn to drug use. Women who are pregnant and use have an effect on the fetus. According to Advokat, Comaty & Julien (2014) one-third of babies who are born to mother’s using cocaine experience withdrawal symptoms (p. 211). Thus, babies are experiencing withdrawal symptoms at the earliest stages of development. In addition, other effects of drug use can cause cognitive function impairment, disorders, and behavior problems. Also, various drugs are used to treat various disorders, which can lead to withdrawal, dependency, and addiction. Overcoming addiction is difficult and oftentimes individuals struggle with relapse. According to Kisch (2008) treatment options for methamphetamine drug addiction have shown very little success and often results in relapse (para. 19).