Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


Drug Culture and Other Events of the 1970’s That Changed the United States

by Aleksandre McMenamin

One of the most tumultuous and eventful periods of recent American history is the decade of the 1970’s. While the 1960’s planted the seeds for immense changes in American culture that would depart from the way of life that had existed up to that point, we don’t begin to see the actual effects of these changes until the 1970’s. Indeed, whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, the 1970’s is the decade that effectively created modern American life. It was a decade filled with scientific and artistic accomplishments that would rock the world. However, it was also filled political scandals and diminished public sentiment that would shatter many Americans’ trust in the system of their country. Looking back, here are some of the events of that fateful decade that forever altered the United States of America…

Drug culture?????????????????

While the counterculture technically began in the 1960’s, the glamorization of drug use that accompanied it really hit stride in the 1970’s. Due to the growing drug cultures of the 1960’s, the supply of drugs continued to rise until the market was saturated with everything from marijuana, to cocaine, to hallucinogenic drugs like LSD. At the start of the 70’s, as the the revolutionary distaste with Vietnam was at its peak, the relatively innocent counterculture of the 1960’s had evolved, as far as their consumption of illicit substances was concerned. As far as hallucinogenic drugs were concerned, this was partly due to the fact that many institutions who had been researching the effects of LSD on the brain began to abandon their research, due to many state governments banning the drug because of public concern. This caused a major influx of LSD for personal use to hit the market. For more information about how LSD affects the human brain, check out this informative article here.


Today’s world is dominated by economics (arguably, it always has been). However, to get to the point where we are at today, many different economic theories have had their time in the limelight and have dominated the political stratosphere. In the 1970’s, one such theory began to emerge as a reaction to the overwhelming issues of inflation that were plaguing the country. This theory was called Monetarism, and it would soon become an important part of the bedrock for far right-wing conservative economic theory. The basic concept of Monetarism, purported by the economist Milton Friedman, of Monetarism is that GDP and price level are best effected by money supply, and that the ultimate goal of monetary policy was to stabilize the rate in which the money supply grew. The concept was taken up to combat the rampant inflation that the country was experiencing. However, while it was very successful for a few years, the equation behind the concept only held up if the velocity of currency remained stable, which eventually didn’t happen. This led to an abandonment of traditional monetarism by its supporters, but not before it had radically changed the face of American economics forever. For more information about this influential economic theory, check out this blog post here.


One of the most tragic cultural shifts that came from the 1970’s was a shattered trust between the American people and the government who was supposed to represent them. This destruction of governing values came in the form of the Watergate scandal. While you may hear current events indolently being compared to Watergate with the inclusion of the “-gate” suffix, be assured that this is nothing more than silly inflammation of issues that couldn’t compare to what the American public went through in 1972. Watergate began when five burglars broke into a Democratic National Committee office in Washington D.C. after a series of orders that went all the way back to the Nixon administration. The subsequent investigations unveiled a wide array of corrupt activities that were being carried out in Nixon’s administration. This scandal eventually led to Nixon resigning from the presidency to avoid impeachment, but not before the average American’s faith in his or her government had plummeted to levels of near despair.

Blockbusters and independent film

On a lighter note, but still immensely important, the 20th century’s premiere art form underwent a transformation during the 1970’s. Of course, I am talking about the medium of film and, in particular, the creation of the blockbuster, as well as the explosive growth of the independent film. During the 1960’s, the traditional film studios had begun to decline after what was thought of as the “golden age” of Hollywood had ended (the 1920’s through the 1950’s). The fact of the matter was that the traditional way of getting audiences to the cinemas no longer worked. The film stars of old no longer had the same sway that they once had, and all of the major studios suffered major financial disappointments. During this time, many independent film studios began to spring up. These wildly creative and revolutionary films were made as reactions to the Vietnam War, the stale studio system, and the general anti-authoritarian sentiment of the time. It looked as though the film studio system might have come to an end. However, all of that changed in 1975, when an inventive film with the plot of a B-movie and the endless imagination of a visionary auteur created little film called Jaws. This movie shattered all of the box office records of the time, and soon became known as the first Blockbuster. This ushered in a movement of other films like it. Films such as Jaws and Star Wars, the blockbuster class of the 1970’s, saved the studio system from certain death, Luckily, the independent film scene continued to soar along with them, in terms of financial and critical success. This gave birth to a period of film that became known as the “American New Wave”.


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