At a Glance

How did recreational drug use grow into a U.S. drug culture? How did it become such a hot topic and a social concern?

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency exists to prosecute, investigate, and disrupt drug trafficking and large-scale use of illegal substances.

The agency is not particularly strong on historical resources—with the exception of information from the 1990s to present. However, a few features should be noted for their potential.

If you are interested in the history of the organization itself, the agency offers an eight PDF overview of its actions since its creation (15 to 51 pages per PDF), as well as transcriptions of speeches and testimony. The speeches date from 2001 to present, while the accessible testimony reaches back as late as 1995.

Statistics available on the site include arrests, drug seizures, state substance abuse fact sheets, national studies, and meth lab incidents.

The agency runs a museum in Arlington, VA. Exhibit topics may cover the history of drug epidemics and drug culture in the U.S., the history of prescription drugs and their abuse, and more. If you aren't located in Virginia, the museum also offers five virtual exhibits, some more extensive than others, covering DEA history; DEA deaths; the Purple Heart; the DEA in Iraq; and organization operations and career fields. Available supplemental activity guides are not targeted for history education.