It is natural for humans to seek pleasure. How one attains that pleasure can vary from person to person. Unfortunately, for many it comes in the form of recreational drug use. The images of the internal effects of drugs can hold a lot of significance. Researchers are able to study how addiction happens and how to combat it. These images can also show the public just exactly what happens to the body when these drugs are ingested. Internal imaging has allowed us to find out things that people 50 years ago were unaware of.
The use of recreational drugs dates back to the colonial times. According to The River Source, “Colonial residents and those before them used derivatives of natural substances to cure ailments, relieve pain, enhance sexual performance and enjoy recreational fun.” In the early days of the United States the popular drugs of choice were tobacco and alcohol because tobacco was widely grown and the country was already importing alcohol (The River Source). Drug use came into the mainstream during the 60s and 70s. LSD among many other drugs became incredibly popular during that time. The rise of the counter culture brought on increase in regular drug use among teens. There was not much known about the drugs that people were using and so the effects that are common knowledge today were non-existent back then.
Today there are a large number of agencies that advocate against recreational drug use. They have many tactics of spreading their message. All of the ads that are run contain some seriously powerful imagery. The goal here is to position drug use as nothing but a bad habit with detrimental effects to an individual and those around them. One example is showing body structures that have been affected by drugs. One example is showing the brain as it is normally and then how it is on a particular drug (Sturken and Cartwright 373). The difference between the two is meant to shock the average person and therefore inform them on what the drug can do.
Images can be very beneficial to research. When scientists are able to see exactly what is going on inside the body as a result of drug use then they can better understand them. A study was done using positron emission tomography (PET) to look at the difference in serotonin neurons in the brain between those who used ecstasy and those who did not (McCann). It was found that those who used ecstasy had a decreased amount of the neurons compared to the control group (McCann). The only way that this research was even possible was through the use of images. By being able to see images of the brain the researchers were able to find out new effects of a drug. Researchers have also used brain scans to study how addiction happens. Addiction is something that can be seen through certain behaviors. The usual response to help someone who is addicted is to put him or her through rehab. But there are common occurrences of an individual relapsing and using the drug the worked so hard to quit, through the use of brain images; researchers have found new information on exactly how these addictions form and what drives the person to continue the behavior (Powledge 513). With the use of these new findings they hope to be able to find a new and more permanent fix to addiction
(Poweledge 513). This shows how the use of images can provide a large help to research. The scientists are no able to see how addictions work internally instead of just going off of behavior or external signs. This can change how drug addiction is viewed as a whole. Those how are known drug addicts are casted away as if they have some contagious disease. But with the help of the images scientists can effectively help addicts and get them on the right path. Over time there may be a shift in how addiction is perceived and handled.
Drugs are like any sort of cultural niche, they are subject to a shift. As medical imaging becomes more advanced it can be used to convey strong messages about how harmful drugs can be. Images will also be a huge aid to research to help those affected by drug addiction. Overtime the drug culture will change and maybe it will be for the better,