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History of Drug Abuse

History of Drug Abuse

The history of drug abuse spans over centuries, involving all types of substances.

Substance abuse goes back further than many people think, with alcoholic beverages and hallucinogens traced back to 5600 B.C. In places like China, alcoholic beverages like wine are mentioned in writings from 1046-221 B.C. 1 Since the effects of drugs and alcohol were discovered, people all around the globe have fallen into the trap of substance abuse.

Brief History of Drug Abuse

As a rehab facility in Massachusetts, we know the history of drug addiction and alcoholism, and the prevalence of substance abuse amongst men and women today. Instances of alcohol and drug use were first recorded in Armenia, ancient Greece and Rome, Sumer, and China.

Alcohol in Armenia

The first recorded winery was discovered recently in Armenia and can be traced back to 7,000 B.C. The cave it was discovered in recently has been named the Areni-1 cave and contained alcohol-related paraphernalia like a drinking bowl, grape press, cup, and fermentation jars. In many civilizations, alcohol was used for celebrations, religious rituals, and even agriculture. Wine can specifically be dated back millions of years, as fermentation evolved from the introduction of fruit-bearing plants.2

Alcohol, Mushrooms, and Marijuana in Ancient Greece and Rome

Greeks and Romans made their marks on the history of drug abuse. They were known to have been very fond of wine and used it often during their celebrations, religious gatherings, and other social events. Alcohol was often used as an offering to their gods in religious rituals. Consulting the oracles was also common in this period. The oracles of ancient Greece and Rome were women believed to be chosen by the gods to relay messages and prophecies from the spiritual realm. Oftentimes, these women would use mind-altering drugs like mushrooms and cannabis (marijuana) in their practices.

The effects of these substances were just as dangerous back then as they are now. People battling alcoholism can get help with our alcohol addiction treatment. Our team at Banyan Massachusetts strives to provide patients with safe and effective treatment.

Opioids in Sumer and China

Around 3,400 B.C., the Sumerians discovered the opium plant and were the first people recorded to have used it for medicinal purposes. Opium was taken orally at first, but smoking it became the common practice after its effects were found to be stronger. This drug eventually incited conflicts between Great Britain and China, with morphine and cocaine following suit in the 19th century. Eventually, opium made its way to the United States from China. Since then, heroin was created, and opioid abuse has grown into an epidemic in the U.S.

Opioids are highly addictive and can cause horrible symptoms. We encourage people addicted to opioids to undergo our opiate addiction treatment to avoid its negative side effects and further health problems.

Substance Abuse in the United States

In the U.S., the most commonly abused substances include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Mushrooms
  • Marijuana
  • Ketamine
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • Peyote
  • Methamphetamine
  • Prescription Opioids
  • Stimulants
  • Nicotine

These substances were all either created in the U.S. or made their way there as a result of trading, war, or immigration.

At Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts, we know that, although the origin of substance abuse can be traced back millions of years, addiction is still just as harmful. No one is the same, and that’s why we provide various levels of care to treat different forms of substance abuse.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, get help now. Call us at 888-280-4763 to begin your addiction treatment..


  1. NCBI- Fermented beverages of pre- and proto-historic China
  2. NG- Earliest Known Winery Found in Armenian Cave
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
History of Drug Abuse
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