If you or a loved one are struggling, we can help! Call us today at (855) 722-6926
If you or a loved one are struggling, we can help! Call us today at (855) 722-6926

The History of Drug Abuse

The History of Drug Abuse

The history of drug abuse goes back centuries.

For years, people have abused drugs and alcohol all over the world. Whether they were used in rituals, celebrations, or recreationally, substance abuse has played a role in many of the world’s societies for centuries. As time progressed, more research was conducted on these substances, offering evidence that proves the dangers of addiction.

As an addiction rehab in Pompano, we’re aware of the history and extent of substance abuse. Our trained and licensed staff strives to offer patients safe and effective care for their individual needs.

Brief History of Drug Abuse

At Banyan Pompano, we know that substances like alcohol, cannabis, opium, and morphine have existed for centuries, with the oldest of them being alcohol and opium. As time progressed, further drugs were developed. Below are a few of the substances that have their own places in the history of substance abuse.


Alcohol is a commonly used substance in the United States. For years, people have fermented grains and fruit to create alcoholic beverages. The earlier evidence of alcohol was found in pottery jars that were discovered in northern China. These jars date from 7,000 to 6,600 B.C.1 Since then, remnants of alcohol were also found in regions including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Writings about ancient Greeks and Romans often mention the excessive use of alcohol in rituals and celebrations that often lasted for days. Individuals who continue to follow the pattern of binge drinking nowadays may need an alcohol addiction treatment to get sober.


Cannabis has been a controversial topic of conversation for decades. Marijuana has been used for medicinal, spiritual, and recreational purposes for centuries. The earliest evidence of marijuana use was discovered in 2,500-year-old artifacts found in China. As of recently, ten wooden bowls were found in burial sites at the Jirzankal Cemetery in Asia, and nine of them contained marijuana.2 China wasn’t the only country to have evidence of cannabis use. The Egyptian, Roman, and Native American history also points towards past cannabis use.


Opium has been known for its pain-relieving properties for several centuries. The oldest evidence pointing towards opium use is a Sumerian clay tablet that dates back to around 2100 B.C. This tablet is considered the oldest recorded list of medicines.3 Some scholars believe that opium poppy is mentioned in this list. There is also evidence of opium use in the Greek culture. For example, a Greek goddess from around 1,500 B.C. shows poppy capsules in her hair.3

Many opioids are derived from opium. These substances are some of the most commonly abused in the U.S. In fact, there has been an increase in opioid-related overdoses and deaths, otherwise known as the opioid epidemic. Individuals who abuse opioids can recover with our opiate addiction treatment before it’s too late.


Another substance that makes a mark in the history of drug abuse is morphine. Morphine was discovered by Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Serturner in the 18th century. Following a series of experiments, Serturner discovered that the organic alkaloid compound in opium was more powerful than processed opium.4 Since then, it has been prescribed to treat severe pain.

The effects of drug and alcohol abuse have been around for centuries. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of treatments and resources available to individuals suffering from addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, call Banyan Treatment Centers Pompano today at 888-966-9413.


  1. Springer- A Brief History of Alcohol Use and Abuse in Human History
  2. NG- Earliest evidence for cannabis smoking discovered in ancient tombs
  3. NIH- History of opium poppy and morphine
  4. NCBI- The isolation of morphine by Serturner
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.