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. ...