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Opiates are alkaloid compounds producing a psychoactive effect. They can be obtained from the opium poppy, which contains morphine, codeine, and thebaine. The unripe poppy seeds release the milky fluid and after the seedpod has been incised, this fluid is scraped off and dried inboxes. When opium is ready, it is rolled into balls and can be sold.
Nowadays, the growing and sale of opium is legal for the medical application in India, Australia, and Turkey. People started using it for medical purposes in ancient Greece and Rome, and when it came to China. It came back to Europe with the Crusaders, who took it from the Arabs. It was used as a cure for every possible illness as an ingredient of all kinds of medications. Gradually, it started creating addiction (Davenport-Hines, 2012).
In the middle of the 19th century, two wars broke out between Europe and China because of opium. The first Opium War (1839-1842) was between China and Britain whereas the second also engaged France. In both wars, European countries won the victory, and non-medical usage of opiates was outlawed in China. In the 20th century there began attempts to prohibit opiates. The Harrison Act required from people who had drug businesses to pay an annual tax. They also had to obtain an order that allowed selling drugs. The Uniform Drug Act introduced common drug regulations for all the states (Davenport-Hines, 2012).
There are a lot of reasons the policy did not change until 1914. First and foremost, morphine and heroin were the components of quite some medicines. That is why opiates were not connected with anything criminal in the eyes of the general public. Besides, heroin was promoted as a safe replacement of morphine. All the opiates were associated with pain relief. People did not have any idea about what addiction is and what consequences it can bring about (Abadinsky, 2010).
In the 1930s, amphetamine was sold as an inhalant, and then also in the form of pills. It was promoted as a universal medicine and had about 40 accepted applications, including addictions and mental distortions. Later it was mostly used for stimulation and did not require any prescription (Silverman & Holladay, 2014).
These are sedatives that contain barbituric acid, which was synthesized in 1863. However, the first barbiturates appeared at the market only in 1903. They were used as sleeping pills instead of opiates. Barbiturates had been popular until the end of the 1950s when their toxic effects were discovered (Abadinsky, 2010).
To help patients overcome stress and anxiety, doctors in the 1960s usually prescribed tranquilizers which were very wide-spread. Despite this, in the 1980s the FDA claimed that they were not suitable for relieving tension and stress (Abadinsky, 2010).
They began spreading in the 1960s and were most popular among students as LSD was connected with the image of rebellion in their minds. A lot of experiments were conducted by psychiatrists to investigate the impact of hallucinogens on the human body (Abadinsky, 2010).
The Comprehensive Drug Use Prevention and Control Act that was passed in 1970 reduced the availability of all these drugs and approached the problem of addiction treatment. The legislation established new strict regulation of all the substances and their manufacturers, which brought about a new perception of drugs by the society (Abadinsky, 2010).
Abadinsky, H. (2010). Drug use and abuse: A comprehensive introduction. Scarborough, Canada: Nelson Education.
Davenport-Hines, R. (2012). The pursuit of oblivion: a social history of drugs. London, UK: Hachette UK.
Silverman, R. B., & Holladay, M. W. (2014). The organic chemistry of drug design and drug action. New York, NY: Academic press.