I would like to know how communities have coped with addiction problems in history, especially with regard to alcohol and gambling. How did the community define such people? And what they did to solve the difficulties they created by this addiction?
One interesting example is when the British East India company began to smuggle opium into China in the late 18th century. By the early 1800s trafficking had soared to 30,000 chests annually of opium. This despite the many edicts passed against the trade by the Chinese emperor.
The opium trade had resulted in 10–12 million Chinese addicts and devastated especially the large coastal Chinese cities. In 1839, the Emperor issued an edict ordering the seizure of all the opium in Canton. The smugglers lost 20,000 chests (1,300 tons) of opium without being entitled to compensation. The British trade commissioner in Canton wrote to London advising the use of military force and a year later a British naval force arrived at Macao and inflicted a series of naval defeats on the Chinese Empire. The war was concluded by the Treaty on Nanking in 1842 which forced China to cede Hong Kong to the Britain (in perpetuity!) and five treaty ports in Shanghai, Canton, Ningpo, Foochow and Amoy. A second Opium war broke out a few years later, at the conclusion of which Britain, with French support, forced the Chinese to accept the full legalisation of the trade in opium.
This contrasts rather remarkably with the modern Western view on opium and other such hard drugs as a modern scourge, for example, the US war on drugs, and on opium grown in Afghanistan in particular (apparently the Taliban were a lot better at eliminating the trade than the Americans ever were). But of course it is actually consistent with it: the Chinese emperor was attempting to protect his nation against the ravages of the opium drug trade, as is the US government on the behalf of its own citizens.
Another interesting example was the introduction of alcohol as a social and recreational activity in Native American communities which devastated an already devastated and dispossesed community. Around 12% of deaths are alcohol related which is four times greater than the general population even though frequency of use is somewhat less than the general population.