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Drug Use and Abuse

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Submitted By bingham34
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Drug use and abuse is as old as mankind itself. Human beings have always had a desire to eat or drink substances that make them feel relaxed, stimulated, or euphoric. 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 BC in China.

As time went by, "home remedies" were discovered and used to alleviate aches, pains and other ailments. Most of these preparations were herbs, roots, mushrooms or fungi. They had to be eaten, drunk, rubbed on the skin, or inhaled to achieve the desired effect.

One of the oldest records of such medicinal recommendations is found in the writings of the Chinese scholar-emperor Shen Nung, who lived in 2735 BC He compiled a book about herbs, a forerunner of the medieval pharmacopoeias that listed all the then-known medications.

He was able to judge the value of some Chinese herbs. For example, he found that Ch'ang Shan was helpful in treating fevers. Such fevers were, and still are, caused by malaria parasites.

South and Central American Indians made many prehistoric discoveries of drug-bearing plants. Mexican Aztecs even recorded their properties in hieroglyphics on rocks, but our knowledge of their studies comes mainly from manuscripts of Spanish monks and medical men attached to the forces of the conquistador Hernan Cortes (1485-1547).

Pre-Columbian Mexicans used many substances, from tobacco to mind-expanding (hallucinogenic) plants, in their medicinal collections. The most fascinating of these substances are sacred mushrooms, used in religious ceremonies to induce altered states of mind, not just drunkenness.

These were all naturally occurring substances. No refinement had occurred, and isolation of specific compounds (drugs) had not taken place.

As the…...

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