Many experts who have studied drug use patterns in the U.S. say that while the opioid crisis may be the deadliest drug epidemic the nation has faced, it in many ways resembles past crises such as the cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s.
An Oct. 28 Associated Press article outlines the nation's string of drug epidemics, stating that while one fades and another emerges, the drugs never completely disappear from view once they have amounted to a crisis.
The article traces the history of cocaine, originally developed as a pharmaceutical cure for a variety of ailments, and its emergence and subsequent decline in the early 1900s and again in the '80s and '90s. Criminologist Roger Smith described in the article how stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine have traditionally inspired stigmatizing reactions even in the rest of the drug-using community.
“The speed freak is, in many ways, an outcast in a society of outcasts,” said Smith. “He is regarded as a fool by heroin addicts, as insane and violent by those using psychedelics and marijuana, and a 'bust' by non-drug using hustlers.”