The History of Opium Term Paper by scribbler

The History of Opium
A review of the historical social and political impact of the drug known as opium.
# 153372 | 1,259 words | 10 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on May 26, 2013 in Medical and Health (Drugs) , Psychology (Alcohol and Drugs) , History (General)

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The paper reviews the history of opium and its its trade and describes how it was the source of war between China and Great Britain. The paper relates that opium would take on an increasing role with the introduction of heroin in 1874 and explains that prior to the introduction of modern drug making technology, it provided society with an inexpensive and effective form of pain control that did not impair sensory perception, the user's intellect or motor skills. The paper also notes opium's use as a form of recreation where it offered a stimulating effect for writers and artists. The paper highlights opium's significant role in history and predicts that even with increased governmental controls and enlightened information regarding its long term effects, opium usage will never disappear entirely.

From the Paper:

"In the history of man there have been many things that have changed the course of history but few have done so in such an interesting way as the drug known as opium (Chouvy). Opium, a narcotic, is derived from collecting and drying the milky juice found inside the unripe seed pods of the opium poppy (Brownstein). The active ingredient in opium is morphine which is a highly addictive and, yet, the drug has enjoyed widespread use throughout history and, surprisingly, some measure of social acceptance.
"There is credible evidence that the use of opium dates back as far as 4,000 B.C (Kritikos). Because of its ability to ease pain, easy availability, and relatively simple method of harvesting, opium was valued highly as a medicinal drug but it was simultaneously used recreationally as well. References to its use for both purposes occur throughout literature beginning with Homer's description in the Odyssey (Homer) and continuing to Frank Baum's reference in the Wizard of Oz (Baum). Some of the world's greatest and most famous writers have been recreational users. Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and John Keats are numbered among those who have enjoyed its effects (Hayter)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Baum, Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.
  • Booth, Martin. Opium: A History. London: Simon & Schuster, 1996.
  • Brownstein, Michael J. "A brief history of opiates, opioid peptides, and opioid receptors." proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (1993): 5391-5393.
  • Chouvy, P.A. Opium. Uncovering the Politics of the Poppy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.
  • Fay, Peter Ward. Opium War, 1840-1842: Barbarians in the Celestial Empire in the Early Part of the Nineteenth Century and the War by Which They Forced Her Gates. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

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"The History of Opium" 26 May 2013. Web. 10 December. 2023. <>