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Key Characteristics of Drug Culture: A Study of the Evolution of Addiction Treatment

Drug culture refers to the rules, rites, and rituals associated with a particular drug. It also includes mannerisms, terminology, user etiquette, and group preferences, including style, age, and sexual orientation.

Drug culture in America has become mainstream and even looked up to. We have magazines like High Times and Cannabis Culture that romanticize the use of illegal drugs. We have celebrities in the drug genre, like Tommy Chong, Terence McKenna, and Timothy Leary. We even go so far as to have an unspoken holiday celebrating drug use (especially marijuana), which is referred to as simply 4/20 (four-twenty). The drug scene is a subculture of our society and can be found in every state nationwide. There are variations in rites and mannerisms from state to state, however. A person using heroin in Kentucky will inevitably have variations on preparing the drug and its usages as opposed to a person using heroin in West Virginia.

So where did the idea behind drug cultures start?  It all started with tribal villages and groups in different areas of the world, from South America to the Pacific Islands. From Mexico to Central Africa. Shamans and Holy Men of the villages used various drugs to connect with Mother Nature and listen to the planet. They used them to divine answers to troubling tribal questions and problems. They used them spiritually and ritualistically. Inevitably outsiders came to view these happenings.

When they saw the ‘truths and wisdom’ that came from these men and women who are using these hard drugs, they wanted to try them and achieve these great realizations for themselves. After a time, they found pleasure in using these drugs. Deciding the pleasures out-weighed the foul after effects, they took them with them to the corners of the world. Bits and pieces of the actual rituals remained and the rest was altered to suit modern day demands of acceptability. And so, the drug culture has evolved.

Why are People Drawn to Drug Cultures?

Drug culture has been romanticized and made to be a deciding factor on whether or not you are accepted by peers and friends, especially in teens. From a certain way of dressing and speaking, to whom you can talk to and who can’t be trusted anymore. It is the decision of the individual that determines whether or not they choose to begin using drugs, but oftentimes, it is the drug culture that lures them in and catches them. It allows for rebellion and feelings of independence. Or a chance to be free of troubles and worries and to just have fun. A chance to find your own identity and fit in with friends or co-workers. Once one is a part of a drug abusing group, there is the feeling of being a part of something and finally having a group that understands you. Alternately, there can also be a feeling of having to behave certain ways and follow group rules upon threat of punishment.

Brief History of Drug Use in America

In the 19th century, drugs like morphine and cocaine were developed and became readily available. This led to major drug movements and acceptance throughout various decades. In the 1960s and 1970s, there started a movement which we refer to today as the Hippie Movement. They wanted change and they wanted free love. They wanted to end war and violence and for everyone to help the planet. Drugs like LSD were discovered and experimented with. Thus a lifestyle was born. The drug culture of this era was so strong that is still followed by some today.

In the 1980s and 1990s, yet another drug was developed and spread for use. Crack Cocaine became available. It was cheap, easy to procure and addictive as can be. However, it did not take long for people to realize the dangerous effects of this harmful drug. Crack babies and brawling gangs became problems and it was agreed upon that this was a serious problem and the term war on drugs began to crop up as the government started movements to end dangerous drug use in America. By the 1990s, it seemed like drug use was on the decline, but still, drugs like ecstasy and methamphetamines became popular.

The year 2000 to present day has shown that try though we might, drug abuse is still the major problem plaguing America. Psychiatric drugs and prescribed painkillers are becoming more and more available and abused by people in every age range.

As an economics textbook explained: “It’s hard to beat an enemy that gets stronger the more you strike against him or her.” And after 40 years, a trillion dollars, and thousands incarcerated or dead due to illicit drugs, the nation’s narcotic epidemic appears to have no end in sight.[1]

According to global survey data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Americans are more likely to try illegal drugs than any other country in the world. Modern-day drug cultures are playing a leading role in the rise of drug use in America and drug-related deaths. Statistically, since 2008, heroin, controlled prescription drugs (CPD) and methamphetamine are all on the rise.

  • Heroin went from around 15% usage to nearly 40%
  • CPD went from 8% to 15%
  • Methamphetamine went from about 28% to about 37%

“Drug use is on the rise in this country and 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs. That’s approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 – roughly equal to the entire population of Texas. But only 11 percent of those with an addiction receive treatment. It is staggering and unacceptable that so many Americans are living with an untreated chronic disease and cannot access treatment,” said Dr. Kima Joy Taylor, director of the CATG Initiative.

Due to these daunting statistics, we have programs to help end addiction and get teens and adults alike the help they need to get clean and become once again functioning members of society.

Evolution of Addiction Treatment

In the 1800s, there was started the Temperance movement, whose actual goal was abstaining from the substance of abuse altogether. This gave way to Sober Houses. Sober houses were set up as early as 1840 with the purpose of removing the person from drugs and alcohol entirely while they recovered and got over their addiction. Sober houses are still a means of addiction recovery today.

In 1920, the US government passed the 18th Amendment, called The Prohibition Act. This law prohibited ” the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” without specifying alcohol consumption. This was a very large scale movement against alcoholism and addiction. America however, was not prepared to give up its alcohol and many accounts of bootlegging were prevalent across the country. Thirteen years later this amendment was ratified. Then the handling of addiction rehabilitation was put into the hands of the medical fields, with rehab taking place in psychiatric wards, sanitariums, and hospitals. Groups like the International Order of the Good Templars helped pave the way for Americas first support group based rehab, Alcoholics Anonymous.

Rehab Centers

It is apparent that the drug cultures of today are greatly affecting the likelihood of teens and the general populace to start trying and using addictive, harmful drugs. Over the years, rehab has been a highly researched area. Today, many rehab centers are privately owned with the sole purpose of using tried and true ways of helping people overcome addiction. Call A Forever Recovery today and let us help you become sober.

[1] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/annabelle-buggle/after-40year-fight-illici_b_3623714.html

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