Opium and Heroin: The Times Have Changed
These days heroin is all too familiar in our country and culture. It has become an epidemic and there are way too many people dying from it. I'm not going to sit here and give you numbers on exactly how many because you probably have an idea for yourself as to how deadly it is and how many people it's killed. Also just take a guess and I'm sure your in the ballpark as to the amount. Why is heroin so big these days? That's anyones guess. I'm not familar with the drug world, I do not know how it operates but what I do know is basic information that any other normal person does: those who depend on it, it's easy for them to get their hands on it and will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. Heroin is the source of more deaths in the last two years than it normally has caused. Heroin is derived from an opiate and is made from opium..again known fact. The reason I mention this is due to the fact that this is the focus of thr article...heroin compared to opium itself and how compared to when opium was popular to how heroin is now and why exactly the two drugd while similar, one has a deadly effect and the other did not cause such a panic.
In my novel Opium Warfare, I take a very all too familar trend in both U.S and Chinese culture and put my own collective spin on it. I wanted to focus on opium because it was a popular drug and pass time of Chinese people back in the day. While I can tell you it probably wasn't as big as I make it in my novel in 1920s Shanghai, I assure you it was most definitely still active though my fictional telling of it creates a knowledge of it that while small it was there. I am not going to sit here and list ingredients of the drug, Google it if you must but know the two are similar but that heroin is made from several things and a heavier much more potent version of opium. Let me run a few questions by and answer them to fruther your wonder. Was opium as addicting as Heroin is today? -Yes, any drug is addicting and opium addiction is not to be taken lightly but if anything is to be known it's that back then opium was the only known drug at the time. Sure there was others but opium was the go to drug and people who did it didn't turn to other heavy drugs back then like they are likely to do now. Did people die from overodoses? -Yes, of course they did. Opium is the drug to which most drugs derive from so just like any drug, the effects can be deadly. -How does it differ from heroin today? -People didn't think of opium as dedly back in the day but we all know heroin is very deadly in todays society. Back then opium was a way of life, a practice and people would go to opium dens and have a good time, sure it got out of hands at times but the overall message wasn't to get high and waste your life, it was to extend it. The main difference between opium then and heroin now is that people celebrated and rejoiced and treated opium as a healthy way to life and incorporated it into their culture. Heroin now is like any heavy drug of today, we know the effects of it, we know it's bad, it can kill and we don't see those who do it as celebrating or living life to the fullest.
One thing I came across after reading "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" by Thomas de Quincey and researching on opium was that people were very casual and modest about their use with it. Nowadays if people do drugs chances are the only way you know is if they are strung out out of their minds or simple signs of drug use. When opium was popular centuries ago and during the time of my book, it was almost quiet and people didn't talk about stuff like that. Think of the 50's..look at all the stuff we do now that if it were done in the 50's would have sent people crazy! Well this is the same way with opium to heorin, if people abused opium as bad as they abused heroin, chances are we'd have some serious historical events back then to read about today. I'm not telling you opium was okay to use, no that's not the point to take here. The point I'm making is that back then it was a simpler time and now while it still is simple for most people, their are some who like those who abused opium back then, abuse heroin until the point where they are no longer alive to enjoy life. You could walk into an opium den with others there and enjoy yourself, you could probably have better control habits and know ones limits, today that just doesn't seem to be the case. Way too many people are dying from drug related deaths. It doesn't need to be said that no matter what time or decade it is, drugs are bad and have an ending result that no person wants but at one point, the effects were more clear, I only wish that the awareness or acknowledgement of it back then could be incorporated t today..maybe then people wouldn't be dropping like flies at the hands of overdosing on heroin or any other related drug.