The history of alcohol and drug use is ancient. People, especially young ones, take alcohol and drugs because they want changes in life, they want to feel the challenge or escape from routine problems, experiment or rebel, because of curiosity, social influences, pressure, love to risk taking, to feel the rush of adrenaline, etc. Almost none of those who uses alcohol or drugs for the first time thinks about the consequences and addiction in the near future. They cannot even imagine what their life will be like in several years.
The background of the alcohol prohibition movement dates back to the 19th century. From 1776 to 1920 alcohol was legal in the United State. It was made illegal in the18th century by the amendment to the constitution. At first prohibition was introduced in the North of America in the 1850s. Organizations that supported national prohibition started to appear in the 1880s, they included the Anti-Saloon League, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the Prohibition Party and others. Before the American entry to World War I (by 1917), 18 states achieved complete prohibition. Prohibition had national scopes after April 1917 when the USA declared war on Germany. At that time the prohibition amendment passed Congress. The act of wartime Prohibition was passed in 1918 despite the fact that the Lever Act banned the production of distilled spirits in 1917. 27 states enacted full prohibition laws by 1919. As the majority of the breweries were founded in the 19th century by German immigrants, anti-German feeling added to the extending of Prohibition during the wartime. But the main reason of the anti-alcohol movement was that alcohol was seen as the source of poverty, inefficiency, and social disputation in American life. The war was only the opportunity to align the movement. Thus, Prohibition lasted from 1919 to 1933 and it meant that alcohol was not sold, except medical purposes prescribed by doctors and only in small qualities. But the law allowed personal use and possession of alcohol.
During the time of the Great Depression (1929-1939) Americans changed their opinion concerning Prohibition. The Great Depression was the cause of cultural conflicts and economic issues. In 1933 the Prohibition was repealed due to the ratification of the 21st amendment legalizing consumption and sale of alcohol.
Prohibition is considered to be one of the most significant reforms in the social sphere of the early twentieth century as a society which lives without alcohol has less social problems which are caused by alcohol, better employees, and less welfare problems. The life of Americans was influenced by the anti-alcohol movement as the prohibition amendment caused turning back of the liquor industry, drinking of cocktails became more popular, and the custom of drinking in restaurants was almost lost.
Most people claim that Prohibition was a complete failure as it did not eliminate drinking and helped to create a black market. Actually, the amendment prohibited only the commercial manufacture and distribution of alcoholic beverages, but not personal use. So people had access to alcohol and could use it as much as they wanted and when they wanted. Being the only way to alcohol distribution, organized crimes were strengthened. Corruption of public officials, disrespect of law, and the loss of tax revenue to government were thriving. Those who support Prohibition insist that it did reduce alcohol consumption as per capita consumption dropped dramatically between 1910 and 1920.
We may say that both positions have its rationale and both of them may be right depending on the way people treat them. Prohibition could not be left without any changes in social life of Americans. Even if people were allowed to use alcoholic beverages personally, there was no mass production and easy reach of alcohol. At the same time, there were lots of people who were alcohol addict and continued using it, black market and corruption also added to a negative review of Prohibition.
One of the main reasons why Prohibition was repealed was the economic state of the USA due to the major economic blow and the Great Depression. When a new president Franklin Roosevelt was elected, he promised to improve the economy. The only way to do it was to repeal the law of Prohibition as it created more work places and more tax revenue for the government,lessened the effect of the black market, and decreased general dissatisfaction of the public.
The facts of Prohibition are misapplied to the current situation in the world. The world is facing a great problem of drug use. Society needs a firm stand against drug use to reinforce and extend the lessons that were learned through painful experience of the past. The lesson of Prohibition is that society can make at least something to decrease the consumption of drugs. Of course, the price that should be paid for it is high.
A lot of people think that Prohibition and the War on Drugs are interchangeable as both of them try to control people’s desire to use illegal things. They are considered to be two different faces of the same creature. In case of the War on Drugs, the same as with Prohibition, people ignore the law, they become criminals, are imprisoned, provide illegal services to others, commit crimes, and ask the government to rethink the policy. The main problem is not that corruption and organized crimes thrive, the greatest problem is that people simply do not care.
The question whether to legalize drugs has been becoming more and more popular over the recent time. Due to the personal views, beliefs and level of interest to this trade, opinions on this subject are very different. Some people think about legalizing the drug usage as those, who decide and want to use them, will do it anyway, not thinking about laws, prohibitions, and consequences. It is also thought that if drugs were legalized, the government could gain from it getting money from the tax. The government will have an opportunity to spend more money on welfare benefits and society needs not imprisoning people, involved in the drug business. Substances strengths would be monitored, prices for drugs would be not as high as they are now, government drugs may be safer, etc.
Having analyzed all pros and cons I have come to the conclusion that I am strongly against drug legalization as it may lead to price change which may cause a sharp decrease in decrease the number of drug users, society will be profoundly impacted by addicted people who will cause deaths, divorces, etc. One more reason of my negative attitude to legalization of drugs is that it would increase drug activity. When something is legal, it is more accessible and people don’t fear any punishment. Drugs are very dangerous for our health, they destroy people’s lives, produce overdoses which are in most cases fatal, cause accidents and deaths. They are intoxicating and enhance immense addiction which is almost impossible to beat. Nowadays, the situation is striking; drug overdose deaths continue to plague our metropolitan areas, our suburbs, and our schools.
I also think that alcohol should be illegal as it causes even more deaths and problems in society than drugs. Alcohol is considered to be the fourth harmful drug in the world. Under the influence of alcohol people tend to be more aggressive, want to fight, attempt to drive and to be violent. Drunk driving is the cause of a huge number of deaths.
Alcohol and drug usage leads to family problems, crimes, and negative effect on our mind. They blur memory causing blank spots. The person feels slow and stupid, as a result makes failures in life, so life gets harder and the person comes back to drugs or alcohol which make the life better and easier. The person is closed in an endless circle of alcohol or drugs. The worst thing is that both of them directly affect our mind promoting unconsciousness of what is happening around us and block off our sensations wiping out the ability and alertness.
The government should spend more money on giving help and support to those who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, control black markets and find out other ways which may eliminate the use of these poisonous substances. Families, especially those who experience or experienced alcohol and drug abuse, should be given special support as a teenager with such a family history and lack of pro-social skills can rapidly move to serious dependency. The positive steps to this issue would be creation of clear rules and consequences, programs which could promote decision making by youth, strong limits of underage drinking and drug use. More attention should be paid on the crash research programs, the production of anti-alcohol and anti-drug advertisement should be boosted, educational sector should provide better educational programs for pupils and students to act more quickly in order to take all possible steps in tackling the growing problem. Adequate supervision programs for parents would add to the significant decrease of alcohol and drug use in teens. Huge support and supervision should be provided to the community as it is the first social contact for those who have limited family support and live beyond their families. Of course, much had been done to solve this social issue, but much more is to be done in order to eliminate it.
Thus, Prohibition was a social reform movement which hoped to make the US better. But many Americans considered it an intrusion into the private life which contributed to the growth of state power. Prohibition and modern War on Drugs have a lot in common. Unfortunately people think that prohibition of drugs is the same mistake which was made many years ago.
The abuse of drugs and alcohol is definitely a major problem of public health sector. The issues of cons and pros of alcohol and drug use are many faceted and there is a lot to debate. My personal opinion is that drugs should not be legalized even because of health problems which are caused by drug use and level of crimes related to drug trafficking and consumption. I would like to ban the consumption of alcohol, at least in public places and mass production of it. I think that it is a good beginning of the struggle against alcoholism. The problems associated with alcohol and drugs use are complex and require serious solutions. If we want to live in a friendly, healthy, spiritually and culturally strong society, so we should take all possible measures to improve it. We cannot just stay still and turn our backs on criminal conduct or issue a license which will destroy the lives of thousands of people.