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Drugs have been used in many ways since antiquity - for relaxation, as aphrodisiacs, for medical purposes, as stimulants and for pain relief. The International Drugs Trade examines the abuse of drugs in the West and the social problems that arise from their use; the value of the illegal drugs business which is now one of the four largest money-earners in the world; the involvement of governments (openly or covertly) in this lucrative trade; and the failure of the drug enforcement programs either to curtail the supply of drugs or to persuade users to abandon their habit.
Particular chapters examine the major sources of drugs - cocaine from South America; heroin from the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent in Asia; the constantly changing routes used for the distribution of drugs; the growth of African involvement in drug trafficking; the role of Europe as both a major drug consuming region and source of drugs in the ecstasy group; the problem of money laundering.
Finally, the author examines the impact, success or failure of anti-drug programs and looks at alternative ways of dealing with the problem.