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Istoriya a drug addiction from ancient times to the present (sociological analysis)

u. V. Valkova


Article is devoted to the analysis of the relation of society to a problem of psychoactive substances from ancient times to the present. On the basis of study archaeological, religious, legal and references the description of changes of public opinion about danger of the use of narcotic medicines is submitted.

U. Val&kova


The article analyses the attitude of society to issue of psycho-active substances from the ancient times to the present. On the basis reviewing archaeological, religious, juridical and literary sources a description of the changes in the public opinion on the danger of taking narcotics is given.

The situation connected with the use of narcotic medicines in the world remains extremely tense. According to the report of the United Nations, in 2008 around the world at least once narcotic medicines used from 155 to 250 million people, i.e. 3.5-5.7 percent of the population at the age of 15-64 years. Sociological approach to studying a drug addiction assumes including the analysis of the relation of society to narcotic medicines at various stages of its development. History proves that the drug addiction is a steady phenomenon, and within fight against a drug addiction the drug addiction history research on the basis of various historical documents, religious cults, legal documents and fragments of literary works has undoubted scientific value.

Archaeological data confirm acquaintance of mankind to psychoactive substances since the most ancient times. At excavation primitive posele-

niya the remains and seeds of the plants having the stupefying properties repeatedly were found.

Still the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the use of drugs by Scythians (2 thousand years ago). Herodotus, telling about Scythia and its inhabitants — aggressive nomads, noted that burning of stalks of hemp was a part of their cult ceremonies; smoke caused intoxication and ecstasy [2].

Mentions of the use of psychoactive substances contain in literature of ancient times. So, Homer writes about a certain potion which the magician Circe hocused the Odyssey satellites. Intoxication symptoms when travelers represented themselves animals, and one of them fell from a roof and broke, give the grounds to suspect that in this case psychoactive substance was used.

As conditions of communication good luck we find the description of intoxication also in the European culture. Hecate was on appeals of those who accepted a magic potion and were rubbed

magic ointment. Descriptions and plastic images Dionysius in Greece, bacchanalias in Rome give also rich material.

Certainly, descriptions of use of narcotic medicines contain also in religious sources of ancient times. The most widespread drug of the present cannabis (hashish) was used in the Indian religious ceremonies, and its use was allowed only to the highest caste — brahmen.

Data on the use of psychoactive substances for treatment of patients of various symptomatology contain in medical sources of antiquity. Hashish, along with opium, was used by Avicenna and other Arab doctors. Avicenna speaks about consumption of drugs in the territory of Tajikistan and other Central Asian lands. According to some versions, Ibn-Xing died of abuse of opium at self-treatment. In China in the same time hemp was applied to anesthesia during operations.

Columbus in the works described inhalation of powder of a plant of "kogob" by natives of West Indies — the use of this substance provoked uncontrollable behavior and milk and water. It was made for conversations with spirits. Indians of South and North America gave narcotic drink and seeds of a nightshade to children to receive on the basis of interpretation of their images of data on the enemy or location of treasures. Priests of Peru brought themselves to an ecstatic state drink from a plant is thin, and in Mexico for this purpose used drink or ointment from seeds of "ololiuka".

Data on consumption of psychoactive substances in Indo-European culture in general and, therefore, in Old Slavic culture contain in the Veda where the drink of "catfish" giving knowledge, healing and immortality is mentioned. Som it is described as a plant or juice of a plant and, at the same time, personified as the deity, to -

tory was worshipped; therefore, consumption som was regulated by sacral norms.

Traditions of the use of hallucinogens in pagan Russia are clearly traced in mythology. So, in the Russian national fairy tales the motive when the Baba-yaga uses itself is rather widespread or offers heroes the special potion prepared from mushrooms, herbs and also snakes, lizards, toads and spiders then tried this potion experiences ecstatic experiences gains ability to move in space and time, to read mind, etc.

In the Middle Ages opium as medicine was recommended by Paracelsus. Raw materials arrived from the Middle East through Byzantium and the trade cities of Italy. Psychoactive substances were used also by medieval witches in rituals.

With development of the European medicine means of "magic character" gradually disappear. In essence, there was practically no such disease at which opium would not be considered as useful. T. Siddham (16241689) who is called by the British Hippocrates applied this medicine so widely that got the nickname "Doctor Lau-danum". Wide circulation of opium was promoted by colonial expansion and capture by Europeans of places of traditional cultivation and use of opium poppy. Opium as remedy gained special popularity in England of the Victorian era. Brought from India and Turkey, it was used in the form of tincture (laudanum).

At the end of the 19th century as a result of "opium wars" from China drug trafficking began to extend to the Russian territory. Opium consumption sharply increased in the Russian cities, and in Priamurye crops of opium poppy appeared. The Ministry of Internal Affairs tried to counteract opium distribution by police measures, and in 1915 the tsar Nicholas II under -

wrote the decree on prohibition of crops of opium poppy. However it could not prevent drug addiction epidemic as at this time except opium cocaine and morphine became widespread.

Only at the beginning of last century inevitable negative consequences of wide and free circulation of medicines of opium that was reflected also in fiction — for example, in the story by Kipling of "A collar of hundred seals" began to be realized. These consequences also led to formation of scientific approach to assessment of a narcological situation and also to creation of the legal framework in the sphere of settlement of the problems connected with psychoactive substances. In 1912 in the Hague the first international convention on drugs was adopted. Then still a number of the international acts was accepted: Geneva Accord and convention of 1925, Geneva Convention of 1931.

The early domestic scientific research of a drug addiction was conducted at the end of H1H of a century. S. Moravitsky conducted a research in Fergana in which he in detail described directions of use, ways of cultivation and types of drugs.

Much attention is paid to a drug problem by the United Nations. In 1961 in New York the Uniform convention on drugs was adopted. In 1971 at the conference which took place in Vienna in which 90 countries, including the USSR participated the Convention on psychotropic substances was adopted. According to the international documents there began work the International committee on control of drugs the UN and other international commissions and committees [3].

In Russia the mass surge in the use of drugs, including among children and teenagers, was observed in the 20th years of the last century. World War I and revolution contributed to the development of a drug addiction. The number of consumers of drugs grows, the market narcotic ve-develops

shchestvo — the drug addiction becomes a noticeable problem [5].

In 1926 M.N. Gernet analyzed results of prevalence of a drug addiction among homeless Moscow. From 102 respondents only two answered negatively a question of the use of any narcotic substance. On August 27, 1927 the state monopoly for opium is entered. Articles providing responsibility for illicit manufacturing and sale of drugs were published in criminal codes.

One more serious change in the relation of narcotic substances took place in December, 1934 when hemp was recognized as the stupefying substance and for its crops the criminal penalty was prescribed.

Thus, in the 20-30th years of the XX century in Russia drug addiction assessment as the vicious disease connected with living conditions as it had wide circulation among thieves, prostitutes, tramps was created. Therefore the assumptions became later that drug addiction will disappear as a result of improvement of social conditions in the country.

However it did not occur, and since the end of the 60th years the drug addiction began to be recognized as a serious problem officially. It received reflection and in the social reaction which was expressed in change of the legislation. Decrees on compulsory treatment and labor re-education of patients with drug addiction were adopted.

Then there came the era of so-called "elimination" in the country of a drug addiction as social phenomenon and consequently, and uselessness of any researches. And only in the late seventies the subject of a drug addiction holds a firm place in research activity of sociologists. At the same time various trends in assessment of the studied phenomenon were shown. The top trend was defined by strict ideological control from a party ruko-

vodstvo. The possibility of drug addiction at a socialist system was denied, and drug addicts were considered first of all as criminals. Then — in process of development of democratic processes — scientific approach to a drug addiction began to play the increasing role. At the same time also the attitude towards addicts changes: they begin to be considered first of all sick people.

The first large social research of a drug addiction in the territory of the USSR was conducted in 1967-1972 in Georgia. A.A. Gabiani studied social and demographic structure and living conditions of consumers of drugs, structure of the consumed means, age of familiarizing with drugs and motivation.

In 1980-1990 the sector of social problems of alcoholism and drug addiction ISIAN of the USSR and its branch in Leningrad becomes the center of social researches of a drug addiction. Researches were conducted also by physicians (All-Russian Research Institute of the general and forensic psychiatry of V.P. Serbsky) and psychologists.

In the 80th years the attention of researchers is drawn also by such earlier absolutely closed subject as drug trafficking in army. The research of 1987 conducted by State inspection of higher education institutions of the USSR, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR, the Central Committee of Komsomol of Ukraine in Moscow, Kiev and in Krasnodar Krai demonstrates relevance of a problem. 6% of respondents recognized that they joined drugs in army.

The drug addiction in the XX century is first of all a youth problem. Therefore not accidentally many works of the last years are devoted to studying a youth and teenage drug addiction. Still in the late eighties the staff of the All-Russian Research Institute of the general and forensic psychiatry of V.P. Serbsky studied social characteristics of 588 teenagers staying on the registry in five narcological clinics of Moscow. The research showed that the drug addiction can be considered and as subculture. At the same time

the teenagers abusing drugs differ from the created addicts.

At the very end of the XX century by request of the International association on fight against drug addiction and drug trafficking the research which captured seven economic zones of Russia which subject were social consequences of possible legalization of drugs in Russia was conducted. According to a research, the country at that time was in a condition of chronic social and economic crisis that aggravated a drug addiction problem when more and more people joined consumption of drugs.

Thus, in the history it is possible to allocate various approaches of the relation of society to a problem of consumption of drugs. The first, inherent in ancient civilizations: the relation to drugs as to cultural adjustable phenomenon which in general is accepted by society and in some cases is even offered or encouraged. At the second stage the consumption of drugs began to be perceived as undesirable behavior, but regulation of their consumption was considered only as a question of personal responsibility. The consequences arising in connection with the use of narcotic medicines led society to the third approach: consumption of drugs began to be perceived as the disease needing treatment.

At the beginning of the 21st century as in Russia, and around the world there is a change of the relation to drugs. Toughening of policy in the field of a problem of consumption of psychoactive substances even in such countries, conditionally liberal in relation to drugs, as Holland or Spain is observed, and, on the contrary, its mitigation in the countries leaning on repressive methods in counter-narcotics policy — in Sweden, in France. In general all international community in the 21st century is aimed at implementation of measures for protection of public health.


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5. M. Pozdnyakova. Features of a narcotization of the population in modern Russia//Sociology and society: Theses of Vseros. sotsiol. congress "Society and sociology: new realities and new ideas" / Otv. edition Yu.V. Asochakov. SPb., 2000.


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