The use of illicit or illegal drugs or the abuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are indicated or in a manner or in quantities other than directed. .
History of Drug Abuse.
Humans have used drugs of one sort or another for thousands of years. Wine was used at least from the time of the early Egyptians; narcotics from 4000 B.C.; and medicinal use of marijuana has been dated to 2737 B.C. in China. But not until the 19th cent. A.D. were the active substances in drugs extracted. There followed a time when some of these newly discovered substances-morphine, laudanum, cocaine-were completely unregulated and prescribed freely by physicians for a wide variety of illnesses. They were available in patent medicines and sold by traveling tinkers, in drugstores, or through the mail. During the American Civil War, morphine was used freely, and wounded veterans returned home with their kits of morphine and hypodermic needles. Opium dens increased. By the early 1900s there were an estimated 250,000 addicts in the United States. The problems of addiction were recognized gradually. Legal measures against drug abuse in the United States were first established in 1875, when opium dens were outlawed in San Francisco. The first national drug law was the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which required accurate labeling of patent medicines containing opium and certain other drugs. In 1914 the Harrison Narcotic Act forbade sale of substantial doses of opiates or cocaine except by licensed doctors and pharmacies. Later, heroin was totally banned. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions made it illegal for doctors to prescribe any narcotic to addicts; many doctors who prescribed maintenance doses as part of an addiction treatment plan were jailed, and soon all attempts at treatment were abandoned. Use of narcotics and cocaine diminished or reduced by the 1920s. The spirit of restraint led to the prohibition of alcohol by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1919, but Prohibition was repealed in 1933.