Dec 2, 2002: Part IV – History of Drugs of Abuse

The mid 70s marked the second coming of cocaine.  It was the perfect drug for the “Me Generation.”  The new morality of young America was success, the high performance ethic.  Pot bred passivity.  Alcohol impaired performance and smelled.  People can tell when you’ve been drinking.  But cocaine fit the new value system-the tight line between high performance and self-indulgence.  Subsequent drugs have continued to provide a combination of “release” and the feeling of empowerment.  But the feelings are required at earlier and earlier ages. 

The freedom inherent in American society ensures that people will always be able to pursue desired indulgences.  A society filled with wealth, failure, and despair is a ripe market for the world’s drug supply.  Experts point to deep-seated causes that produce continued national craving for drugs-lack of community, disintegration of family, moral laxity, and relentless pressure to perform in a fast-paced society.

In the media, only bad guys take drugs and come to an unseemly end.  Yet drugs are glamorized in our society.  Fast cars and clothes may be the toys of villains, but they are seductive.  Now drugs are readily available and no longer only for the rich.  Addiction has become the great equalizer. 

The history of each of the current drugs of abuse will be discussed at the time the respective drug is addressed.

Next week-MDMA-better known as “Ecstacy”

As always, if there are any questions, call the MTPC.

I am interested in any questions that you would like answered in “Question of the Week.”  Please e-mail me with any suggestions at

Donna Seger, M.D.
Medical Director, Middle Tennessee Poison Center