Addiction: A Short Overview of a Widespread Disease



Addictive drugs are primarily made up of herbal substances and are certainly older than humanity. Addictive drugs are pharmacological effective substances and therefore comply with the accepted pharmacological rules. They have been applied by mankind for thousands of years, and a range of diseases were treated with addictive drugs. It has been known for more than 2000 years that viruses can be driven away by using smoke (fire or tobacco smoke) and alcohol. About 150 years ago, contaminated water in Europe caused severe bodily discomfort (even with lethal consequences). Yet, these adverse health effects were in no case observable when alcohol was consumed in low amounts. Alcohol is still used as a disinfectant agent, and even today, Shamans of the Upper Amazonas still use alcohol and smoke to blow off viruses. The psychopharmacological effects of alcohol have always been known, and virtually in every culture, there were distinct rules stating in which doses, at what time and at which occasions alcohol and tobacco were allowed to be consumed and even enjoyed (Indian rituals [e.g. calumet] or mandatory carousals in the Mexican culture). If these rituals were not obeyed, then alcohol and tobacco consumption was in fact always connected with severe punishment, which could even range to the point of death sentence.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Division of Social PsychiatryMedical University Vienna, Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyViennaAustria
  2. 2.Caritas der Erzdiözese WienViennaAustria
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA
  4. 4.Neuroscience DepartmentHospital de Santa MariaLisboaPortugal

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