Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction

By Steven Martin


A popular authority at the mystery international of opium recounts his descent into ruinous obsession with one of many world’s oldest and such a lot seductive medicines, during this harrowing memoir of habit and recovery.
A natural-born collector with a nostril for unique event, San Diego–born Steven Martin his bliss to Southeast Asia, the place he chanced on paintings as a contract journalist. whereas getting to know an editorial concerning the vanishing tradition of opium smoking, he used to be encouraged to start gathering infrequent nineteenth-century opium-smoking apparatus. over the years, he accrued a worthy collection of beautiful pipes, old lamps, and different opium-related accessories—and all started placing all of it to exploit via smoking an incredibly powerful kind of the drug known as chandu. yet what began as leisure use grew right into a thirty-pipe-a-day behavior that ate up Martin’s each waking hour, left him incapable of labor, and exacted a frightful actual and monetary toll. In passages that would ship a sit back up the backbone of someone who has ever lived within the shadow of substance abuse, Martin chronicles his efforts to manage after which overcome his addiction—from quitting chilly turkey to taking “the remedy” at a Buddhist monastery within the Thai countryside.
right now a strong own tale and a desirable ancient survey, Opium Fiend brims with anecdotes and lore surrounding the drug that a few have known as the methamphetamine of the nineteenth-century. It recollects the heyday of opium smoking within the usa and Europe and takes us contained in the befogged opium dens of China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. The drug’s beguiling results are defined in brilliant detail—as are the excruciating pains of withdrawal—and there are intoxicating stories of pipes shared with an eclectic selection of opium aficionados, from Dutch dilettantes to hard-core addicts to world-weary overseas correspondents.
A compelling story of 1 man’s transformation from revered student to hapless drug slave, Opium Fiend places us less than opium’s spell along its protagonist, permitting modern readers to adventure anew the insidious attract of a diabolical vice that the area has all yet forgotten.

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Our buddy the following simply mentioned a den to me. ” “Excellent. should still we cross take a look? ” “He says it’s closed, yet at the least i do know the place to seem the next day. ” The Lao language has how one can say so long, one in every of which suggests that the individual being spoken to is staying in the back of. I used this at the glue sniffer lest he persist with us the entire option to the bungalows. tomorrow Karl and that i set out after lunch to discover an opium den. Ton’s position used to be a cabin-like constitution of tough planks fronted by way of a mechanical press for making sugarcane juice. I poked my head into the entrance and requested for Ton, yet an previous lady informed me he used to be out and wouldn’t be again till night. Feeling convinced now that I had pointed out no less than one position the place i may get back and smoke opium, I urged to Karl that we glance round for one more den. It didn’t take lengthy to discover one. a number of yards up the line was once a hut-like shanty that served as a tiny store, its reveal of snacks in brightly coloured foil packaging and cans of hot tender beverages coated up with their model names noticeable. The cans of soda struck me as atypical, and that i remarked as a lot to Karl. “Who’s going to shop for a hot Coke? ” I requested. “Unless this stand is simply a entrance for an opium den,” Karl acknowledged with a sly smile. Karl was once correct. No faster had we approached the show of snacks than the shopkeeper—a wan-faced Vietnamese woman—leaned towards the bamboo wall at the back of her and spoke a couple of brief phrases via it. Her husband—or a guy i presumed was once her husband—came from round again and hissed at us. Karl laughed. “Did you listen that? If that hiss wasn’t an Asian cliché, I don’t understand what's. ” The Vietnamese owner seemed approximately 40 and was once part bare, donning not anything yet a couple of ragged shorts. He spoke no English yet through the use of signal language—a mimed hit at the pipe—told us what Karl had already surmised. the guy appeared very impatient to get us into the hut, and maybe because of his pushiness, I felt we must always first agree on a value. He spoke virtually no Lao, so back he used signal language to point that he sought after one greenback in step with pipe. i presumed the cost was once exorbitant and attempted to speak him down, yet Karl used to be wanting to start. “Just make him chuffed. At such a lot you’ll smoke, what, 5 pipes? I’ve obtained a five-dollar invoice the following. ” A door made from woven bamboo led into the boxlike room in the back of the snack stand. when we have been inside of, the owner locked the door through twisting a size of twine round the door’s body and fastening it to the bamboo wall. As my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I took within the tiny room, slightly twelve toes sq.. there have been no home windows. A handful of meager home items have been driven right into a nook, clearing the airborne dirt and dust flooring in order that a straw mat may be opened up upon it. The den keeper produced a blob of opium sandwiched inside of a section of wax paper. The sticky mass appeared whatever like tar. He motioned for us to take a seat at the mat as he begun arranging a crude brass lamp whose glass chimney were changed through a perforated Pepsi can. The opium pipe used to be an easy bamboo stem, one finish of which used to be caught into what gave the look of a small porcelain vase.

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