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1960's Drug Culture

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Responding to the opening question requires another question first be addressed: what is drug culture? Psychologist Pamela Brian defines drug culture as “the lifestyle of people who take and abuse drugs that create an altered form of consciousness” (Brian). The US Center for Substance Abuse Treatment is even more specific and defines a drug culture as one with its own history as well as shared values, beliefs, customs, traditions, rituals, and behaviors. Members of a drug culture often share similar ways of dressing, patterns of socializing, language, and styles of communication (Center). Drug cultures also tend to be localized to a certain degree (Center). This localization promotes the formation of various drug subcultures while simultaneously…show more content…
An examination of rock and roll and drug culture in 1960's America reveals instead the co-evolution of these two movements, which were tightly interwoven and developed for many of the same reasons. The term “evolution” is especially important in these regards because while rock and roll came into existence in the late 1940's, drug culture in America had long-since been established by that time. Students had been using amphetamines, or “pep pills”, since the 1920's – and cocaine had been developing its own subculture from the turn of the 20th century (Brecher 282; Kuhn 198)! It was not the prominent influence of mid-century rock and roll music that led to the production of a drug culture. Rather, it was various common factors such as discontentment with mainstream society, an interest in artistic exploration, and a strive to unlock a higher consciousness that are the more accurate causes of evolution in American drug culture as well as the evolution of rock and roll (Covach;…show more content…
Since the 1920's, when marijuana use became associated with jazz musicians, there has been a connection between certain music subcultures and particular types of substance use (Blake 103-116; Gahlinger 2001). As new drugs emerge so too do new drug cultures. As a matter of fact, it is factors such as ethnicity, race, language, and national origin which have the greatest impact on culture (Center). Although there do exist subcultures in which music style is the core organizing theme, a music genre's influence on a subculture should not be mistaken for its ability to produce a single unified drug culture
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