Historical and cultural aspects of man's relationship with addictive drugs.
Our taste for addictive psychoactive substances is attested to in the earliest human records. Historically, psychoactive substances have been used by (i) priests in religious ceremonies (eg, amanita muscaria); (ii) healers for medicinal purposes (eg, opium); or (iii) the general population in a socially approved way (eg, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine). Our forebears refined more potent compounds and devised faster routes of administration, which contributed to abuse. Pathological use was described as early as classical Antiquity. The issue of loss of control of the substance, heralding today's concept of addiction, was already being discussed in the 17th century. The complex etiology of addiction is reflected in the frequent pendulum swings between opposing attitudes on issues that are still currently being debated, such as: is addiction a sin or a disease; should treatment be moral or medical; is addiction caused by the substance; the individual's vulnerability and psychology, or social factors; should substances be regulated or freely available.