Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Environmental Impact of Human Drug Addictions

Our human relationship with addictive substances dates back thousands of years. There is evidence of alcohol consumption as far back as 10,000 BC, while tobacco seems to have been grown in the Americas for around 8000 years. Meanwhile, the energy-giving properties of coffee were discovered in Ethiopia around 800 AD. Besides these popular recreational substances, opium was extracted from poppies by the Sumerians for medicinal purposes around 2000 BC, and the coca plant is traditionally used for therapeutic and ceremonial purposes in the Andes.

As news of their psychoactive potency spread, the use of these addictive substances grew and techniques were developed to intensify their effects, such as producing spirits, purifying opium and learning that smoking tobacco and crack delivers a greater hit.

Addiction was identified as a problem as long ago as the 17th century, but this did not hinder the growth of these industries. Increased consumption fueled alcohol production in Europe in the 1500s and commercial tobacco production began in the 1600s, though coffee did not reach popularity till the 1700s and recreational use of opiates and cocaine followed in the 1800s. Mass production of these psychoactive substances didn’t just place more people at risk of the health problems associated with heavy use, but these industries also have a significant environmental impact.

Here are the most common addictions:

To learn more about how these addictions impact the environment, click the links above, or visit the Steps to Recovery website.