Essay on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention

Licit or illicit substance use by young people is a major topic in newspapers and magazines, on television, in fiction, in rock music, in schools, and in communities. It is an emotionally charged topic causing arguments, frustration, panic, alienation and other feelings too numerous to mention.

Many view substance cases of abuse as a problem unique to the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. However, this is far from the truth. Work done by anthropologists suggests that humans may have been using alcohol as early as the Paleolithic Age, and definitely by the Neolithic Age. In years, this means that alcohol has been consumed for at least the last 20,000 years.

The other two naturally occurring substances that are known to have been used by humans for many centuries are marijuana and opium. Just as the use of certain substances has been with us for centuries, problems with abuse of those same substances are not a new phenomenon.

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism have been problems in certain societies for centuries, and government policies to control them are a constant theme in human history. Attempts at prevention are nothing new either in referring to old adages such as “A stitch in times saves nine” and “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Formal educational efforts regarding drugs and alcohol had their beginnings in the United States around the 1880s. These educational efforts came about as a result of the Temperance movement, which was gaining in both strength and popularity during that time. The approach taken was a very negative one that alleged disastrous effects of alcohol on personal character development, family life, and the very fabric of society. Abuse of a substance (in this case, alcohol) or addiction to it was seen as criminal or deviant behavior. The Temperance movement continued to flourish into the early part of the -5 20th century and had its “crowning glory” in the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution which prohibited the use, manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages.

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