The addiction to psychotropic substances as a historical phenomenon. The example of the Greek Interwar period. Evidence regarding the supply, the availability and the trafficking network

Kostas Tziaras,

Historian, PhD in the Department of Political Sciences of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Teacher at the Alternative/Transitional School of KETHEA/ITHAKI.



The phenomenon of addiction to psychotropic substances appeared as a social problem in the 1960s and 1970s in the Western World and since the 1980s in Greece, occupying public opinion, the press, the scientific community and public policy with increasing intensity. As a social phenomenon, it is a phenomenon with historical significance. Its roots are often traced in the literature to the 19th century and are linked to industrial society, capitalism and the life of the poor in urban areas. This modern context defines dependency as a multifactorial social phenomenon and as an extreme form of alienation. In Greece before the Asia Minor Catastrophe, use is estimated to have had pre-capitalist characteristics and was embedded in the practices and rituals of the rural world.

This article deals with the historicity of the phenomenon of addictions with the aim of broadening its thesis. After presenting the international, modern context, the relevance of the phenomenon to poverty and highlighting its importance in international economics and politics, the paper focuses on the Greek interwar period. This is, as explained, the period during which the economic, social and cultural conditions for the transition from use to dependence seem to prevail in Greece. The intensity of the special interest of scholars is noted, and the new sources and approaches proposed are summarized. If the above has the character of an extensive introduction, the article attempts to specialize in the economic conditions of the development of the phenomenon, and in particular in the functioning of the “product-drug” in the interwar market. Based on literature and primary research, new data are presented on the supply and availability of psychotropic substances in the interwar period and on the functioning of legal and illegal trafficking networks. In conclusion, the article argues that the sufficiency of the product on the market and the economic and social conditions that had developed during the interwar period completed two of the three sides in Olievenstein’s triangle of addiction.

Key words: Interwar, Greece, history of addictions, ‘product – drugs’, smuggling

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