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TSEM102: Origins of America's War on Drugs

Overview & Facts

Subject encyclopedias provide overviews and background information on broad topics. Use them at the beginning of the research process when you need to know more about a topic, narrow a topic, and identify some recommended resources that will provide in-depth information on your topic.

Drugs in Society: Causes, Concepts, and Control

  • This ebook covers topics related to the drug problem in the United States
  • Table of Contents:
    • Part I: Understanding the Problem - 1. The Nature of the Drug Problem 2. The History of Drug Abuse 3. Understanding Drugs of Abuse 4. The Illicit Drug Trade 5. Domestic Drug Production 6. Drugs and Crime
    • Part II: Gangs and Drugs - 7. Organized Crime and the Drug Trade 8. Domestic Drug-Trafficking Organizations 9. Foreign Drug-Trafficking Organizations
    • Part III: Fighting Back - 10. The Drug Control Initiative 11. Critical Issues in Drug Control 12. The Issue of Legalizing Drugs 13. Understanding Drug Control Policy 14. Control through Treatment and Prevention

Addictions and Substance Abuse

  • Articles on topics such as: addiction, addiction medications, advertising for alcohol and tobacco, cigarette and cigars, club drugs, crack, families and substance abuse, genetics and substance abuse, Just Say No campaign, MDMA, painkiller abuse, prescription drug addiction, social media addiction, and War on Drugs

Gale Virtual Reference Library -Consists of a selection of encyclopedias in many disciplines including history, politics, law, and health, which have relevant articles on drugs and their use.

  • Once in the research database, type your search words into the search box
  • Use the Advanced Search feature if you want to search for your search terms in the title of an article
  • Since these are encyclopedias, the most effective way to search for information is to use broad topics like you would when searching for books

Search for your topics in the entire collection or try some of the following subject encyclopedias indivifually:

Sage Knowledge - Indexes mostly encyclopedias on topics in the social sciences which have relevant articles on drug use, abuse, and policy.

CQ Researcher is a magazine-type publication that provides background information on topics of wide interest

  • Check for the following reports: Alcohol Abuse, Combatting Addiction, Drug Policy Debate, Legalizing Marijuana, Marijuana Laws, Medical Marijuana, Medication Abuse, Methamphetamine, Mexico's Drug War, Prozac, Regulating Tobacco, War on Drugs

Drug use and abuse is often included in the study of popular culture. There are some encyclopedias that provide background information on drugs in the context of popular culture or by a particular time period.

An encyclopedia in the Reference stacks that provides historical information on people, organizations, places, and events is Alcohol and Temperance in Modern Hisory: An International Encyclopedia, located in the 3rd floor Reference stacks: Ref HV5017 A43 2003. It also contains some important primary source documents.

Encyclopedia articles on politics and policy regarding drugs can be found in various sources. Some examples:

  • Europa World Plus -"The War on Drugs in Mexico"
  • Open CRS
    • Search for reports created by the Congressional Research Service to keep members of Congress up-to-date on legislative issues
    • Some issues include cocaine sentencing, marijuana, methamphetamines, drug trafficking, War on Drugs/ drug control, Mexico drugs

Films on Demand is a research database that provides streaming video of films on many academic topics, including drugs and their use and abuse. For example, try searching cocaine, crack, heroin, marijuana, drug abuse, prescription drugs, war on drugs, mafia and prohibition, etc.

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  You can use either Cook OneSearch or the Library/USMAI Catalog to find books.
video See the help guide video: Finding Books with Cook OneSearch

Click on the link to Cook OneSearch under the search box in the middle of the page on Cook Library homepage. Enter your search words into the boxes. Select USMAI Catalog on the left menu bar to limit your results to books.

OR, check the Library Catalog for books available at Cook Library. If you want a larger selection of books available in all of the University System of Maryland libraries, check the USMAI Catalog.

  • A good way to see what types of book the library has on drug abuse, is to change word/s anywhere to subject beginning with... and type drug abuse, drug addiction, drug traffic, prohibition united states, or a particular drug - cocaine, heroin, marijuana, crack, methadone
    • Or try a subject word/s search such as organized crime and drug*, organized crime and prohibition, mexico and drug*, indians and alcohol*, drug and sentences, women and drug use and history

U. S. Office of National Drug Control Policy


DEA: Drug Enforcement Administration [ U.S. Department of Justice]


Warning: Organizational websites dealing with controversial topics may demonstrate bias. Look for information that explains the purpose/mission of an organization. Look carefully for the source of statistics presented.


Common Sense for Drug Policy

  • "....dedicated to reforming drug policy and expanding harm reduction. CSDP disseminates factual information and comments on existing laws, policies and practices." - from the website
  • Drug War Facts includes statistics on topics including International Policies & Trends, Crime, Corruption, Drug Use Estimates, all with original sources noted. Continuously updated.

DRCNet Online Library on Drug Policy [Drug Reform Coordination Network]

  • PROlegalization site.
  • Check out the Schaffer Library , which includes Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy, History of the Drugs and Drug Laws, Medical Marijuana Research, Government Publications on Drugs and Drug Policy, Charts and Graphs of Drug War Statistics, and Information on Specific Drugs.
  • Also try The Media Awareness Project [MAP], which links to articles arranged by topic.
Magazine, Newspaper, & Journal Articles

You can use either Cook OneSearch or the Research Databases link from the Cook Library homepage to find articles.

Research databases often use the same subject words that are used in the Library Catalog. Articles focus on specific topics, so databases that index articles are usually the best place to look for information to answer a research question and/or support a thesis.


See the help guide video:Finding Articles with Cook OneSearch

For additional help on searching for articles, see the help guide videos: Scholarly vs. Popular: What's the Difference? and Finding Articles: Getting Started in EBSCO Databases


Click on the link to Cook OneSearch under the search box in the middle of the page on Cook Library homepage. Enter your search words into the boxes. Select peer-reviewed on the left menu bar to limit your results to scholarly articles.

OR, go directly to research databases such as Academic Search (and choose others) to find articles on your topic. The advanced search features of both are similar, but the research database search allows additional options for refining a search.

  • Go into Academic Search > click on Choose Databases > select America: History and Life, Social Sciences Abstracts, and SocIndex.
    • Click on Advanced Search > enter your keywords in the boxes
Finding Primary Sources

Strategies for Finding Primary Sources

Hints for Searching for Primary Sources in the Libary Catalog

Chicago Style

Diana Hacker: Research and Documentation Online

  • Click on Chicago Guide (History)
  • Click on MLA Style (Humanities)
  • Provides about 50 examples for citing sources in various formats, showing note and bibliographic style side-by-side
  • Use pop-up menu in middle of screen to locate specific examples

Chicago Manual of Style: Footnotes/Endnotes & Bibliography Style

  • Cook Library short guide

MLA Style

  • Cook Library short guides on citing books, encyclopedias, articles, and miscellaneous sources and how to do in-text (parenthetical) citations

Chicago Manual of Style

  • Full-blown version, which requires login w/ TU NetID

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