Drugs and Drug Abuse

When I was writing The Cartoon Guide to Recreational Drugs I scoured the local libraries and bookstores looking for useful and interesting historical works. Drugs and Drug Abuse is one of my sources.

The parts I generally took notes from were either about the drugs themselves or the prohibition of drugs. You’ll find the information garnered from these books throughout the Prohibition Politics section of this site. It will also have informed some of my own postings stored in the older Prohibition Politics archive.

If you find this information useful, you will want to search out the books themselves to read the text in context. All of the books here are at least moderately interesting.


James Cassens wrote this for “The Christian Encounters” series. Some interesting information culled from a variety of sources.

p. 27

Dr. Albert Hoffman, working for Sandoz Research Laboratories, discovered LSD in 1938 while looking for a pain-killer for migraines.

His first dose, after accidentally dosing, was 250 micrograms.

P. 30

“On a sunny Saturday afternoon in 1960, beside the swimming pool of his rented summer villa in Cuernavaca, a 39-year old American ate a handful of odd-looking mushrooms he’d bought from the witch doctor of a nearby village. Within minutes, he recalled later, he felt himself “being swept over the edge of a sensory niagara into a maelstrom of transcendental visions and hallucinations. The next five hours could be described in many extravagant metaphors, but it was above all and without question the deepest religious experience of my life.””

—“Interview with Timothy Leary,” Playboy, Sept. 1966, pp. 93-112, 250-54

Timothy Leary—Harvard psychologist. He followed with morning-glory, marijuana, peyote, and finally LSD, which he began using exclusively.

P. 31

In 1963, Harvard dismissed Leary and Dr. Richard Alpert. After a brief stint in Mexico, he gained the financial support of NY millionaire William Hitchcock, who gave Leary his 4,000 acre estate in Millbrook, NY.

p. 46

The most systematic study of the hazards of LSD; based on 44 research projects; included over 5,000 persons and 25,000 uses:

Patients Undergoing LSD Therapy

Attempted Suicide1.2/1,000
Completed Suicide0.4/1,000
Psychotic Reaction more than 48 hours1.0/1,000

Experimental Subjects

Attempted Suicide0/1,000
Completed Suicide0/1,000
Psychotic Reaction more than 48 hours0.8/1,000

Five cases of “psychotic breaks” were reported; “in each instance an underlying hysterical or paranoid personality pattern was evident.”—S. Cohen, “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: Side Effects and Complications,” Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 130 (1960), 30-40.

P. 65

“How can you expect your children to respect authorities who will ruin a person’s life for possession of marijuana or put a man in jail for using a drug with the abuse potential of a cocktail? Police tell young people that smoking pot will turn them into addicts. The kids know it’s not true. They figure they have been handed lies about other drugs as well, and go on to try them. We can earn their respect only by telling them the truth and treating drugs as medical, not police, problems.”—Dr. David Smith, quoted in Look, Aug 8, 1967, pp. 11-28

p. 70

Mystery Drug X

Drug X is one of the most available and popular drugs, both on campus and off.

It affects nearly every major system of the body, including the liver, kidneys, blood and central nervous system.

When taken in low, controlled doses, its proponents contend the effects are minor.

But in large doses, Drug X may induce ringing in the ears, lassitude, dimness of vision, mental confusion, gastric bleeding, nausea, and—in some cases—death.

A key ingredient of Drug X, known as salicylate and derived by the ancients from willow bark, has been used to produce fetal malformations in laboratory animals.

Like all drugs, this one has a nickname by which it is popularly known to drug-users.

It is aspirin.

—Chicago Daily News, Feb. 15, 1969