A Drug Epidemic.
During the 1980s few subjects were in the news as consistently as the widespread and increasing use of cocaine in the United States. There were two main stages in this growing problem. In the first stage, during the early 1980s, many considered co-caine a harmless, even glamorous, "recreational" drug; it was the drug of choice of the famous and successful—professional athletes, celebrities in the arts and entertainment, lawyers, university professors, and Wall Street brokers—who were among the few who could afford the high black-market price of cocaine. In 1982 the National Survey on Drug Abuse found that 22 million Americans had used cocaine at one time or another. Experts debated the significance of this number; but none disputed that cocaine use was spreading rapidly, and health officials began to speak openly about a cocaine "epidemic." Even the cocaine-related death of the comedian John Belushí in...
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