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Topic section: Alcohol
Alcohol is the most confusing of all addictive substances. On the one hand it is ass
Image: Bronze libation cup from a Chinese tomb, Chueh variety, 1500-500 BC
The ancient religious significance of drinking alcohol is indicated by this three thousand year old Chinese libation cup
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
ociated with religion, civilised living and even national identities. On the other, the problem of coping with drunks has driven social policies and medical theory. In the nineteenth century moral control was symbolised by the call for temperance and total abstinence. In the years after the Second World War an enormous amount of study of alcoholism was carried out. Moreover the specialists most concerned with it began to apply their studies to other drugs such as nicotine and amphetamines. During the 1960s hard drugs such as heroin came to the fore and anx
Alcoholism remains, however, the most common form of drug addiction
ieties about alcohol took second place. Worries about dependence upon prescription medicines followed. Alcoholism remains, however, the most common form of drug addiction.

In 1917 the US government prohibited all alcohol consumption illegal except for religious purposes. At first the measure was supported and consumption fell, but as it became less popular criminals made more and more money through illegal sales and underground ‘speakeasy’ saloons. In 1931 the measure was repealed, though in many American states sale is still very heavily restricted. In se
Breathalyser kit, 1979
In the 1960's Alcohol consumption acquired a new negative connotation the "Don't Drink and Drive" campagin and breathalyser
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
veral northern European countries, too, alcohol sales are controlled by the government.

Prohibition has been succeeded by voluntary control and compassion. In 1935 Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in the USA as a means of mutual support and an alternative to prohibition. Alcoholism was classed as a disease by the World Health Organisation in the 1950s. This took away much of the moral stigma and classified the problem as medical. Stigma, where it remained, was focussed upon inappropriate uses of alcohol, such as drinking and driving.

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Section 2: Tobacco
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The definition of a smoking as habitual or addictive has implications beyond health with decisions also being made in the courtrooms.  > more

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Section 3: Drugs
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Drugs related to opium were widely available at the beginning of twentieth century; by the end of it they had become one of the main causes of poverty and crime.  > more
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