Drug Use and Abuse

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?

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)

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)

(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.

· 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.

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