Historical perspectives of drug use and ramifications for the future

Wayne Hall, Adrian Carter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review


Brief Overview:
1. Alcohol use has been a feature of human agricultural societies since the beginning of recorded human history. Likewise, opium poppy and cannabis plants have a similar antiquity to alcohol. In this chapter we summarise the long history of alcohol and other drugs, with particular reference to Australia.
2. The industrialisation of drug production in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries created the conditions for a 'psychoactive revolution' - where alcohol and other drugs became industrialised and widespread. Alcoholic beverages were among the first products to be industrialised in Europe. The twentieth century marked another revolution in psychoactive drug development: the development of synthetic drugs by the pharmaceutical industry, including drugs such as amphetamines and synthetic opioids, all originally developed for medical use.
3. Alcohol came to Australia with the First Fleet and played a prominent role in the colonisation and development of Australia, having a devastating effect on Indigenous people.
4. The opiates were widely used as legal drugs before their nonmedical use was prohibited in Australia in the early twentieth century, along with cannabis and cocaine.
5. Illicit use of cannabis, heroin, amphetamines and cocaine became a public concern in the 1960s and early 1970s when introduced to Australia by US Vietnam service personnel.
6. Drug use in Australia, as in other countries, fluctuates. Increasing consumption is often followed by growing public awareness of the harms that they cause, which prompts policy responses that attempt to reduce use or harm.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrug Use in Australian Society
EditorsAlison Ritter, Trevor King, Margaret Hamilton
Place of PublicationMelbourne, Australia
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780195518863
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Cite this