Synthetic Madness: From the Newest History of a Drug Problem

Variant title

Syntetyczne szaleństwo: z najnowszej historii problemu narkotykowego


The increased recent popularity of synthetic drugs provokes a need to rethink the complex relation between humans and drugs throughout history to date. Considering the development of a drug problem predominantly based on the idea of use and abuse of both legal and illegal substances, this paper traces various functions that drugs played in human life, beginning from the earliest history of mankind. In the context of the latest developments, the analysis focuses on the emergence of new, often synthetic psychoactive substances, along with legislation and drug policies implemented in different countries. This provides a basis for considering the cultural, social and health consequences of drug abuse. Since the “synthetic turn” starting at the end of the 19th century, it seems that additional efforts need to be taken in order to meet the related challenges. This latest turn in the historical development of drugs is perceived as one of the most important moments when it comes to understanding coeval drug problems. Expanding the social awareness of the effects of drug consumption seems to lie among the crucial factors preventing societies from solving drug-related problems, including crime, health, social exclusion, poverty, overdoses, and death. The paper concludes that, while political and social endeavors are generally aimed at prevention, an equally important task may lie in the provision of high-quality, mass drug education.

Article history

Received 22 August 2023. Accepted without revisions 21 December 2023. Published online 11 January 2024




Polish (pl)


Dawid Kamil WieczorekJagiellonian University in Krakow


Orbis Idearum Volume 11, Issue 2 (2023), 179-198
Regular Issue