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History of Addiction

Addiction and treatment methods have advanced considerably from decades of scientific research, testing and new treatments being developed but even the term addiction has its own history. The medical meaning of addiction, succeeded the original two French words toxicomanie and assuétude since 1885. If the terminology has its own history, how early do addiction and treatments predate back to?

Earliest Signs of Addiction throughout History

One of the earliest known times that addiction has been highlighted in history is from Alexander the Great (336–323 BC). Historians state his cause of death was due to many heavy years of drinking; whereas other historians argue, either Alexander died of natural causes or from malaria.

Source: Historical and cultural aspects of man’s relationship with addictive drugs, Marc-Antoine Crocq, 2007

Around a similar timeline to Alexander the Great; Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, is also believed to have discussed alcohol and the effects of reproduction among women. Aristotle has been known to have referenced the results of pregnancy producing “deformed men”.

Source:  Alcohol and Alcoholism, Volume 34, Issue 6, Ernest L. Abel, November 1999

Throughout the centuries since Alexander the Great and Aristotle, a frequently referenced example of addiction becomes apparent with substance abuse among priests and other religious bodies practicing shamanism. Plants such as Amanita were ingested to allow religious practitioners to talk to the spirit world through altered states of consciousness.

History of Medicinal Drug Use

Medicinal Substance References

Further references throughout history feature opium-based substances being used in medicinal scenarios around the 9th century. Historical records highlight an Egyptian queen presenting a potion to Helen of Troy that she had used to treat her warriors. The potion is said to have eased the anger and pain being suffered by those who drank it. Scribes commonly thought, up until the late 18th century, many of these medicinal treatments were opium-based, however turned out to be the modern day equivalent of anti-depressant drugs.

Jumping forward to the modern era, Dr. Mechoulam made scientific history when his study in 1980 showed cannabis oil, also know as cannabidiol, could be an essential factor to treating epilepsy. Further studies and scientific research have led to his research showing promising strides for CBD and other related oils being able to relieve pain as well as treating anxiety and acne.

History of Recreational Drug Use

Recreational Substance References

The use of recreational drugs has been the foundation for many countries and cultures social platforms, allowing interactions to occur with one another. A few contemporary examples include:

  • Coffee being served in Tearooms (Japan)
  • Alcohol from Pubs (Britain)
  • Marijuana from Coffee shops (Amsterdam)

Over time certain licit drugs, such as alcohol, have been refined to become stronger with consumers being able to have alcohol of strengths of up to 50%. An increase in the strength of alcohol lead to a reduction in the timing needed to feel the effects of being drunk, ultimately leading to further use cases of alcohol addiction.

In contrast, illicit drugs which contain stronger psychotropic properties have since undergone a major behavioral change such as opium. Previous behavior towards the drug was only used for medicinal purposes but within the last century has altered to a higher percentage taking the substance for  recreational use.

After reviewing the historical evidence of addiction and treatments involved, it’s apparent that humanity’s taste for addiction dates back more than two thousands years and is altered by various factors including society, culture, religion and beliefs. If you are suffering from addiction and require transitional housing in San Diego, speak to one of our experts today to see how we can help.

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