O P I U M

(Week of 7/15/18)

It’s impossible to escape the gut-wrenching reporting on America’s current opioid epidemic, which got us thinking we’d like to better understand its place in world history, medicine and art. From Coleridge to opium dens to the destruction of 19th-century China, what we came away with was a surprising sense of the world as one people -- who have all, in the same ways, struggled to reconcile the extraordinary lows that must inevitably balance extraordinary highs.

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AN OVERVIEW OF THINGS

Watch the documentary Raw Opium on VIMEO and read this short article from the DEA Museum for an overview of opium through time and across continents.

 

 

OPIUM IN CHINA

Listen to this In Our Time podcast on The Opium Wars, and watch this episode of The Story of China for a deeper dive into the opium epidemic in 19th century China.

 

VINTAGE OPIUM

Check out these old health aid advertisements, and photos from America's late 19th-century opium dens.

 

OPIUM & CREATIVITY

Read this Artsy article on the art world's relationship to opium, this VICE interview about neurological impact on creativity, and Confessions of an Opium Eater, which launched Thomas De Quincey's career, as well as the drug-memoir genre.

 

THE OPIUM TRADE TODAY

Listen to this NPR story on why opium production is up in Afghanistan, check out this VICE story following the trade route from Afghanistan to the UK, and read this Washington Post piece on Mexico's opium route to the US.

 

THE AMERICAN EPIDEMIC

Read this Andrew Sullivan article covering America's crisis; and listen to this interview with Deborah Thompson, quite possibly the most courageous and inspiring and hope-provoking voice we've heard in the whole thing.