Attitudes about which drugs are good or bad tend to change over time within a given culture. The debate over marijuana is mostly a conflict between an older generation that viewed the drug as evil and a younger generation that found it preferable to alcohol. Because psychoactive drugs can give pleasure and can change the ways people think, perceive the world, behave, and relate to each other, they invite magical thinking and taboos (Ball, Graff, and Chien, 1975, 109-113).
It seems human beings are born with need for periodic variations in consciousness. Drugs are fascinating because they alter consciousness. The basic reason people consume drugs is to vary their conscious experience. Many drug users talk about getting high. Highs are states of consciousness marked by feelings of euphoria, lightness, self-transcendence, concentration, and energy. Drugs that affect the central nervous system (CNS) can be classified by the substance from which they are derived, such as opiates or opioids, or by their effects on the human nervous system, such as stimulants, hallucinogenic drugs, or psychotropic drugs (Ames, Franken, & Coronges, 2006, 363-368).
Around the world, approximately 15% of the population older than 18 years of age is considered to have serious drug use problems. This number of course include those other than nicotine addiction, which itself may involve up to 25% of the world's population, and this percentage has remained fairly constant since the early 1980s. Of these drug abusers, about two-thirds abuse alcohol and one-third abuse other drugs. Across the continents, the other major drugs of abuse are marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin. Approximately 2.5% of the world's population abuse marijuana, 0.5% abuse stimulants, 0.3% abuse cocaine or opioids, and up to 1.7% abuse other drugs, such as., inhalants, depressants, hallucinogens. Many individuals who try illicit drugs do not go on to abuse them. As an example, approximately 33%of the populations of the United States and Australia, and 10% to 20% of the population of different European countries, report lifetime use of marijuana. Yet, only 2.5% of the world's population use marijuana so regularly as to incur recognizable consequences (Adams, Gfoerer, & Rouse, 1989, 14-20).
The last three decades of the nineteenth century saw far-reaching transformations in the life of the Western world. In the postwar era, the observable fact was the great expansion of population in the Western countries including Europe and America. With immigration from all parts of the World, the population expanded greatly and became heterogeneous in speech, religion, and way of life. Many of the immigrants, unprepared to join the agricultural sector of the economy, crowded into the growing cities, which soon began to exhibit today's familiar urban problems. With the industrial revolution, large enterprises grew and attained a new level of economic power; with the construction of the railroads, vast areas of the West were opened for settlement and exploitation of the timber and mineral resources. In social terms, the geographic dispersal of the population that occurred as many moved west spelled the end of the once close-knit family. The variety of social ills that inevitably attended these rapid changes in all aspects of life