The origins of our drug culture must also be better understood. Grasping the causes for the popularization of drugs, which began in the 1960s and has engulfed American society ever since, is vital.
But we must reach further back in history and recognize that we already had experimented with recreational drug use, including cocaine, in the early 20th century. We also had major addiction problems with opium and morphine a century before. Over the course of the 19th century, China’s prior diffused use of opium among its elite gradually evolved into a major addiction epidemic just as the U.S. dealt with its own first major drug problem with U.S. Civil War veterans addicted to morphine.
The causes leading to both epidemics are not too different from those of our current prescription opiate and heroin crises. Sadly, the drug culture that began in the 1960s has forever changed how we view addiction, especially the degree to which we perceive any distinctions among recreational and regular use with a drug like marijuana, or binge drinking for that matter.