Pill Popping See Slang and Jargon Plants Drugs From Humans have

used their local plants for medicinal effects since prehistoric times. They gathered and ate plants and noticed the effects that some offered— whether therapeutic, mind-altering, or toxic. From trial and error they fashioned associations between cause and effect, keeping certain mushrooms, roots, barks, leaves, or berries for certain situations—the treatment of accidents, ill health, childbirth, coughs, fevers, rashes, and so on. Over the centuries, they established herbal medicine, as it is now called; they had also found certain plants that produced immediate and mind-altering effects, many of which were relegated to religious ritual. By the nineteenth century, Europeans had developed the science of chemistry to the point where the activator in many plants could be isolated and concentrated.

If experimentation with plant materials has led to cures, such as quinine for malaria or digitalis for heart disease, it has also led to the discovery of unpleasant effects or the discovery of poisons. From the literally thousands of substances that have been self-administered over the centuries, only a few continued to be used for nonmedicinal purposes. Even fewer have given rise to serious problems of chronic use and dependence. The legal and readily available drugs that are found naturally in plants (e.g., NICOTINE, CAFFEINE) or are derived from plants (e.g., ALCOHOL) will be described here first, because the use and abuse of these drugs is more widespread than all the other abused drugs combined. The health problems associated with the chronic use of alcohol and TOBACCO are, therefore, a very serious problem in our society, not only because of the large number of people who suffer and die each year from the direct toxic effects of these drugs but also because of the costs—the absenteeism from work and the unnecessary health-care cost. The illegal drugs will be discussed next; although the illicit use of MARIJUANA, Cocaine, Opioids, and PSYCHEDELICS remains a major social, legal, financial, and health problem in the United States today, the proportion of the population physically dependent on these drugs is actually relatively low—only a small fraction of a percent. Finally, it is important to note that people often do not restrict their drug use to a single type. Alcohol users typically smoke cigarettes and may sometimes use other drugs as well. HEROIN users may also smoke and consume alcohol, marijuana, coffee or COLAS, and, in some instances, various STIMULANTS. Multiple drug use is, therefore, a relatively common occurrence.

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