The Macksey Journal


How prevalent has the use of psychoactive substances been in warfare throughout history and what are the consequences of drug-fueled warfare? In conducting this research, I read several texts on not just the history of drugs in warfare, but also of the history of drugs in the context of globalization. When we hear the words ‘war’ and ‘drugs,’ we automatically think of the War on Drugs. While the War on Drugs is a modern event, the presence of psychoactive substances in society and warfare has existed for millennia: from the use of opium mixed with wine in Ancient Greece to the rampant use of methamphetamine in World War II. I found that these psychoactive substances were given to soldiers to maximize their efficiency in an attempt to gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield. In this attempt, governments have often created veterans susceptible to severe drug abuse and addiction; in turn, many of these soldiers have come home lacking a solid support base and returned to drugs as a way to cope.