Drug Use & Abuse Essay

Drug Use & Abuse Essay

1. Choose a substance described in your readings from the first few weeks of the class.

2. Choose a year or decade in United States history within the past 175 years. (See below for a list of suggested years if you need help to get started, but you can choose other years or decades).

Cocaine – 1860’s, 1885s, 1906 or 1914

Amphetamines – 1932 or 1967

Opium – 1890’s

Heroin – 1890 or 1920’s

Hallucinogens – 1960’s


Marijuana – 1920’s, 1937 or 1960’s

Anabolic steroids – 1960’s, 1970’s

Alcohol – 1920’s

Tobacco – 1930’s, 1960’s

Anti-psychotic drugs – 1955

Barbiturates – 1960’s, 1070’s

Benzodiazepines – 1960’s

Tobacco – 1880’s, 1920’s or 1060’s

Caffeine – 1860’s

Answer the following questions about the substance, using your sources:

3. What were the attitudes towards the substance in that year/decade?

Compare to today. (cite your source)

4. How easily available was it then?

Compare to today. (cite your source)

5. How widespread was its use then?

Compare to today. (cite your source)

6. Did certain ethnic, religious, cultural, racial, age, etc. groups tend to use it more then? Compare to today. (cite your source)

7. Were there regulations or laws restricting its use? Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

Compare to today. (cite your source)

8. In your opinion, what has improved since then? What has not improved? (no citation needed)

9. What surprised you the most about your findings? (no citation needed). Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

10. Harm reduction vs. zero tolerance:  Do you think we should strive to totally eliminate abusive drug-taking behavior in the US, or do you think that we should realize that total elimination is unrealistic and try to reduce the harm that drugs do to the user and others? What do you think about harm reduction programs such as needle exchange programs and medication assisted treatments? (no citation needed). Drug Use & Abuse Essay

(See page 44 in textbook for a description of harm reduction vs. zero tolerance).



Use the following headings for your post: (See sample post)

1. Substance 

2. Years or Decade

3. Attitudes

4. Availability

5. Widespread Use

6. Groups affected

7. Regulations/Laws

8. What has improved or not

9. What surprised me

10. Harm Reduction vs. Zero Tolerance


· Because this is college, you need to use at least TWO academic sources: from government reports or scholarly/peer-reviewed journal articles. This will give you experience doing academic research. You can use the course textbook or other sources as additional sources, but they will not count as one of the two required sources.  Read the handout (below) on scholarly sources. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

· Use the NU library to find your sources. If you don’t know how, contact the NU library for help.

· Use your OWN WORDS (e.g., do not cut and paste from an article).

· Do NOT use any quotations.  Paraphrase (use your own words) to report the information.

· Use in-text citations. Write the source of your information at the end of the applicable sentences using APA 6th edition format.  This will give you practice using APA to cite references.

· List all the references in APA 6th Edition format at the end of your post in a References list.

NOTE: If you are new to APA, I recommend that you use an online citation builder such as APA Style Central http://apastylecentral.apa.org.nuls.idm.oclc.org/ or the NU library database to automatically format your references correctly. You can also get help from the Writing Center https://nu.mywconline.com/ and the NU library on how to use APA to cite references.


IMPORTANT: Do NOT submit your first draft. First, read what you wrote out loud. Check for:

– Missing words or letters

– Missing or misplaced periods, apostrophes, commas

– Incomplete sentences

– 2 or more sentences strung together that should be made into separate sentences

– Putting something is past tense that should be in present tense or vice versa

– Plural words that should be singular or singular words that should be plural

– Making the verb and subject match (plural or tense)

AFTER you make these corrections, then post your discussion.

Then post 2 responses to other student posts, at least 5-6 full sentences long. You do not need to include any citations in your responses, but you can if you would like. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.


An important step in writing a term paper or in completing many assignments includes finding information in periodicals. In general, information in periodicals is more timely, current, and up-to-date, than information in books. When professors and/or librarians speak of the periodical literature, they may use several different terms, such as, magazines, serials, or scholarly journals.

In order to look for the right kind of information in the right places, you first need to understand the assignment. Does your professor want you to look for papers in scholarly journals, or will recent articles from substantive, general interest or popular magazines be more appropriate? Once you understand the assignment, you need to know how to distinguish one kind of periodical literature from another. Here are some rough guidelines:

• A serial or periodical is any publication that appears at regular intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually) and is intended to continue indefinitely. Magazines, journals, newspapers, yearbooks, proceedings, and indexes are all serials.

Magazines are commercial serial publications intended for any of a wide variety of readers. Some magazines provide news and general information to a popular audience, while others are aimed at professionals in various fields.

Newspapers are commercial periodicals that are issued daily, weekly or biweekly, featuring cover age of news and current events as well as opinion and advertising. Newspapers seek to inform, explain, influence and entertain readers. Some papers such as the New York Times, USA Today or the Gainesville Sun target the general public, while others aim for a more defined audience. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

Journals, or scholarly, scientific journals, are periodicals generally published by an institution, professional association or learned society, and contain articles that disseminate current information on research and developments in particular subject fields. Before an editor of a journal publishes a manuscript, the editor and a team of specialists on the journal editorial board examine the manuscript carefully, to be sure that the article will contribute to the knowledge of the field. Because of the rigorous evaluation process, these publications are also referred to as refereed or peer-reviewed journals. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

  1. Substance: Cocaine (powder and rock)

 Decade: Between 1982-1992

  1. Attitudes

For more than a hundred years after its creation as an isolated drug 1859, cocaine was not seen as a problem in the United States; in fact, quite the contrary.  Its use for medical purposes was praised by people such as Sigmund Freud, who believed the drug could aid in morphine withdrawal, and ophthalmologist Carl Koller, who used it as a local anesthetic for eye surgery (Ferris, Wood & Cook, 2018).  Through the 1970’s, and in the 1980’s, when the market in the United Sates blew up due to mass production in South America and major smuggling operations by cartels, cocaine was glamourized as a drug of the rich and famous.  It was used mostly in the club and party scenes of large urban cities such as New York, Miami, and Los Angeles.  This changed with the introduction of rock (crack) cocaine in the late 1980s, when the use of cocaine became rampant lower socio-economic communities, dramatically changing the public perception of the drug as glamourous (Miech, 2008, p. 363). Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

  1. Availability

At its height between 1985-1990, cocaine availability was much higher than present day.  One way to show this is by self-reported “perceived availability” numbers among 12th graders, which show that in 1990, 54.5% believed they could access cocaine if they so desired, compared to only 27.3% in 2017 (Statista, 2018).  Throughout the 2000’s, this number averaged in the mid-40% range, but dropped significantly after 2010. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

  1. Widespread use

In the 80s and into the early 90’s, cocaine use was prevalent among upper-class, wealthy, mostly white people.  The club scene, including the famous Studio 54, were notorious for rampant cocaine use.  Hollywood was overrun by the drug as well.  A 1982 New York Times article stated that cocaine use was so widespread in Hollywood that the major studios had to amend their policies to hedge against drug-related risks.  They reported that some of the biggest actors, producers, and studio heads were spending up to $1 million per year on their cocaine habits (Lindsey, 1982). Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

In the mid 80’s, crack cocaine (a crystalline, more potent form of powder cocaine) began appearing in more lower class, urban neighborhoods.  This cheaper, stronger form of cocaine led to the “crack epidemic,” where millions of inner-city residents became addicted.  The number of people in just this year who admitted to routine cocaine use increased by more than 1.8 million (Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 2018). Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

  1. Groups Affected

While most data show that raw usage numbers of both forms of cocaine are higher among whites than blacks for Hispanics, the incarceration rates are not representative.  While blacks are 3.5 times more likely than whites to be regular crack users, they are 21.2 times more likely to be incarcerated in federal prisons (Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, 2018).  This can partially be explained by the fact that crack cocaine use had higher correlation with arrest than powder cocaine among all races, and also that crack users are more likely to become addicted than powder cocaine users (Palamar, Davies, Ompad, Cleland & Weitzman, 2015, p. 112), with addicts being arrested at much higher rates than recreational users.  In spite of these factors, many researchers (and several civil rights groups) do believe that race and/or racism play a significant role in the disparity of incarceration rates. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

  1. Regulations/ Laws

Cocaine is a schedule II controlled substance in the United States, with this classification beginning in 1970 with the Controlled Substances Act.  It is allowed for medical use as a topical anesthetic or to treat certain specific disorders, but possession or sale of cocaine by a non-medical professional is illegal.  As noted earlier, cocaine garnered much more law enforcement focus after the creation/spread of the crack form of the drug.  The issue of cocaine smuggling from Central and South America remains a major focus for our Coast Guard and other law enforcement outlets, with over 416,000 lbs. being seized in 2016 alone (Woody, 2016). Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

  1. What Has Improved or Not

Cocaine abuse and addiction is still a problem today.  However, the likelihood of having usage numbers skyrocket again (as seen in the 80’s and 90’s) is small.  In 1985, almost 30% of people reported using cocaine in their lifetime (Schober & Schade, 1991, p. 7).  Today, that number is significantly smaller, with around 16.6% reporting cocaine use in their lifetime, and an additional 4% reporting crack usage in their lifetime (Nation Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016).  Also, while there are still racial disparities in arrests and sentencing for cocaine possession, there are efforts in several states to reform drug policies to better address the addiction problem.  Some states, including California, are trying to move away from punitive sentencing of simple possessors, and towards a focus on rehabilitation and counseling. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

  1. What Surprised Me

The first thing that jumped out at me was the sheer volume of cocaine that is smuggled from South America into the United States every year.  As I mentioned earlier, 416,000 lbs. of cocaine were seized in 2016 alone by the US coast guard.  This may seem like an astounding number, but when compared to the estimated 5.7 million lbs. that were attempted to be smuggled into the US (by sea alone) in the same year (United States Coast Guard (USCG), 2017), it is really a drop in the bucket.  5.7 million lbs. is the equivalent of about 227 full-length school busses… or 17 full-grown blue whales… being smuggled by sea every year into the US.  I thought these numbers were really incredible, and they prove how hard it is (from a law enforcement perspective) to fight a “war on drugs.”. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

  1. Harm Reduction vs Zero Tolerance

I feel that the last 30 years of the “zero tolerance” policy we have tried towards cocaine (and other drugs) has been highly ineffective.  Particularly for the casual user, and especially for  the addict, I believe that incarceration without access to drug rehabilitation is nothing more than a band-aid (and a very expensive one at that).  I would not argue for shutting down Coast Guard operations in general, as they are vital in the security of our country; however, in 2016, the budget allocation for Coast Guard “drug interdiction” alone was more than $1.3 billion of the total ~$9 billion budget (USCG, 2016).  I would argue that this sum of money could be much more effective if allocated towards drug aversion and counseling in local communities.  I feel that our government has focused so much time and money on the ‘supply’ side of the equation, while largely ignoring ways to reduce the ‘demand’ in this country.  I am optimistic because state and local governments are beginning to realize this, shifting their focus away from punitive punishment for drug offenses. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.


Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (2018, April 20). Retrieved from https://www.cjpf.org/who-uses-crack-cocaine-and-why/

Ferris, J., Wood, B. & Cook, C. (2018, March 8). Weekly dose: Cocaine, the glamour drug of the ‘70s, is making a comeback. The conversation.  Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/weekly-dose-cocaine-the-glamour-drug-of-the-70s-is-making-a-comeback-88639. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

Foundation for a Drug-Free World. (2018). Crack cocaine: a short history. Retrieved from https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/crackcocaine/a-short-history.html

Lindsey, R. (1982, October 31). Pervasive use of cocaine is reported in Hollywood.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1982/10/31/us/pervasive-use-of-cocaine-is-reported-in-hollywood.html

Miech, R. (2008). The formation of a socioeconomic health disparity: The case of cocaine use during the 1980s and 1990s*. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 49(3), 352-66. Retrieved from https://nuls.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.nuls.idm.oclc.org/docview/201664311?accountid=25320. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/cocaine

Palamar, J. J., Davies, S., Ompad, D. C., Cleland, C. M., & Weitzman, M. (2015). Powder cocaine and crack use in the United States: An examination of risk for arrest and socioeconomic disparities in use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence149, 108–116. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.01.029

Schober, S., Schade, C. (1991). The epidemiology of cocaine use and abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse: Research Monograph Series. Retrieved form https://archives.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/monograph110.pdf

Statista.com. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/208467/availability-of-cocaine-as-perceived-by-us-12th-graders-since-1975/. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

United States Coast Guard. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.uscg.mil/

United States Coast Guard. (2016). Posture statement: 2016 budget in brief. Retrieved from https://www.uscg.mil/Portals/0/documents/budget/2016_Budget_in_Brief.pdf

Woody, C. (2016, November 2).  The US Coast Guard hauled in a record amount of cocaine this year. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/us-coast-guard-record-cocaine-drug-seizures-2016-11



In-text citations


URL: http://library.nu.edu

Contact the Library – [email protected] or (858) 541-7900

1-866-NU ACCESS x 7900 (toll free)


This class also has a special NU library page that was created by librarian Zemirah Lee to help you do research http://nu.libguides.com/coh318

It contains references related to our assignments. Zem is available by appointment for one-hour consultations to help you find sources, format in APA and more. Drug Use & Abuse Essay.

[email protected]



Sources of information

For statistics on drug, alcohol or tobacco use in your city, county, state and region, or nationwide: