Substance Abuse and addiction has been around nearly as long as our written history. Excerpts of the book HISTORY AND SCIENCE OF DRUNKENESS by William Alkroyd describes substance abuse going back over four centuries BC. Many of those accounts are described below. The Bible tells the story of Noah and his drunkenness in Genesis chapter nine (9) versus twenty one (21). Early Egyptians, 13 century b.c., considered “beer among the good and pure things. It was their National drink” at that time.

Several remarkable drunkards are mentioned in ancient history and Rome was considered a drunken state. The Saxons, in the first century of the Christian area are described as "Men of high stature, great bodily strength, fair complexion, blue eyed, and yellowed haired. Their occupation was fighting and in times of peace gaming and drinking deeply.” Their chief drink was beer.

The Puritans of the 16th and 17th century were temperance advocates. They believed that “according to their sacred word the wages of drunkenness were sure sorrow here and eternal punishment hereafter.” This is the first recorded time, in the book, of the temperance, anti-drinking, movement. Six hundred years ago the law favored the growth of drunkenness. Breweries and wine brewers became formalized, taxed, organizations and therefore a source of revenue in the 16th century. For the first recorded time these revenues included fines imposed for drunkenness.

In 1736 laws were passed to restrict the ability of poor people to buy gin due to the excessive tax levied on gin. From this bill enacted September 29, 1736 druggist shops sprouted up to get around the law. Gin was prescribed, put in medicine bottles with the label reading “Take two or three spoonfuls of this four or five times a day, or as often as the fit takes you.” The laws affect resulted in a doubling of the gallons of liquor sold. The government feared that in a score of years (of 20) the common people of the metropolis of England would exterminate themselves from the diseases caused by to much drunkenness.

In the mid 1700’s the medical profession became concerned about drunkeness’s effects on the human body. In 1818, perhaps the first temperance society was formed at Skibbereaen Ireland. England followed in 1830. Their early war cry was moderation in the use of alcohol but that was quickly abandoned for the message of total abstinence. In 1832, Joseph Livesey drew up the first total abstinent pledge. It was during this time period that drunkenness started moving from accepted behavior towards a more shameful behavior. This change is further evidenced by the theory of the time that “nearly all criminals are drunkards, therefore drunkenness is the chief cause of crime.” This is and was a confusion of cause with effect. It was also thought that drunkenness was on the list of those not fit to inhabit the earth and they would slowly end as a group due to the process of natural selection – Darwinism’s survival of the fittest.

Moving into the 1900s we had the Temperance Movement become successful in October 1919 with the enforcement of Prohibition. By 1933 the 18th Amendment that ratified prohibition was reversed. The result of prohibition was more alcohol was consumed that before, bootleggers thrived, violent crime increased and we had celebrity criminals such as Bonnie and Clyde, Bugsy Malone, Capone, and more. Nascar arose from from bootlegging and is now a national sport.

When it comes to other drugs during the 1800 to early 1900s we had cocaine in Coke Cola, morphine and opiates being freely recommended and available to women for menstrual cramps. In the 1960s we had Woodstock. With the return of Vietnam Veterans society was introduced to heroin, an opiate, and other drugs. The 1970s and early 1980s was the era of disco and excessive drug us made glamorous by the number of celebrity media articles describing the parties and exclusive clubs allowing open use of drugs to enhance the party experience. Cocaine started showing up in movies being used by the rich and famous. Up until the 1990s you could go to a pharmacy and sign for an over the counter bottle of paregoric, which is an opiate, that was basically unregulated.

In essence since the beginning of time man has had a love hate relationship with substance abuse and addiction. It is glamorized in commercials and some movies at the same time the public outcry its effects on society and our families. Substance abuse and addiction has moved from something expected and even promoted by governments to something scorned and now criminal inducing. The fact of the matter is that Addiction is a disease. Not a societal choice to be condemned but a DISEASE to be treated, understood, and de-stigmatized. To learn more about the disease of addiction go to the resources page and check out some of the links.

If you are looking for help in dealing with the disease of addiction and want a therapist that understands the complexities of this chronic, relapsing condition I sincerely hope you consider the services offered through I Need Family Therapy. Addiction is a family disease as it affects the substance abuser/addicted as well as their family. We are well versed in all the complexities, emotions, and complications caused by substance abuse and addiction and understand it isn’t a shameful situation. However, it may be a desperate and deadly situation you or your family is now facing. I Need Family Therapy offers therapy for the individual who is using or the family member(s) of substance abusers. I Need Family Therapy offers private sessions or group therapy. If your loved one who is using drugs or alcohol refuses to stop it doesn’t mean you can’t start getting healthier and begin the change process within your family.  

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