Citation: Papaver Man. "The Summer of Poppies: experience with Opium & Cannabis (ID 61835)". Erowid.org. Nov 12, 2007. erowid.org/exp/61835
Background: This is the tale of my brush with opium addiction. I am a causasian male, weight 120 pounds, currently 22 although the events described in this report take place at the age of 19, over a four month period of the summer of 2004. I always research drugs heavily before even considering using them. Opiates held no great interest for me as I was well aware of the strong potential for addiction as well as the fast tolerance that builds to the effects of such drugs. My main areas of interest and experimentation, drug-wise, were (and still are) marijuana and psychedelics, as well as milder psychoactive herbs. At the time of my flirtation with opium I was a daily marijuana smoker, and had experimented with mushrooms, ecstasy, salvia, absinthe, lotus and passionflower among others.
I got my first taste of opiates the same way most people do, through legitimate medical use. All four of my wisdom teeth had been taken out and they gave me a bottle of tylenol 3’s (I’m pretty sure they were 30 milligrams of codeine each and a ton of the aspirin or whatever). I was supposed to take two of them three times a day till the bottle ran out. I was honestly quite shocked. Here was a doctor giving me opiates, which I knew were addictive, and his first advice was to take a couple pills three times daily till I ran out (I think it was a four day scrip). Thanks doc, no wonder people get addicted to this shit. Just for interest’s sake I said “What if I run out and my mouth is still hurting?” To which I got the reply “Oh, just phone us up and we’ll get you a refill.” If my jaw didn’t hurt so much it would have dropped at this point. Sure, why not hand out more opiates? It’s not like their dangerous or anything. I was pretty spaced out the first day taking the codeine, and on the third day I discovered the joy and wonder induced by smoking a bowl about an hour after my evening dose of T3’s. I never called up for a second prescription and that was pretty much the end of my opiate usage for a few years.
The summer when I was 19 years of age there was a bumber crop of poppies. Beautiful poppies in all different colours, red and pink and some with purple centers. The pods ranged in size from the smallest marble-heads to golf-ball sized monstrosities. It seemed I could not walk down an alley without coming across some flowering specimens of Papaver somniferum to be admired, often growing wild in waste lots and gravelly soil. There were five readily accessible poppy patches within five minutes walk of my house. Having all these poppies around raised quite a dilemma for me. There was a big difference in my mind between taking a pharmaceutical pill to get high and partaking of a psychoactive plant to get high. The plant has a spirit and I guess I just felt more comfortable experimenting with a plant than little white pills. Opium has always intrigued me somewhat too, knowing that so many famous writers and artists in the 19th century had used this substance. As I child I had read of opium dens in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and in Verne’s classic Around The World in Eighty Days. All of this made me very curious.
On the other hand, I was scared of trying opium, scared of getting addicted as soon as I tried it. I had read about heroin and how strong the rush was, and I was worried that opium would be like that, so good that I would not want to live without it. Then I told myself, man, you’re just being stupid. No drug could possibly be that good. I trusted my ability to sample opium and withdraw unscathed. So I took a knife blade and gently sliced a few poppies. A thick white juice (the latex – when dried gives raw opium) oozed out from the cutmarks. I smeared the juice on a rolling paper and made it into an opiated joint.
When smoked, this had a very interesting effect. It was kind of like the very early days of getting stoned, when the high would get very intense. I felt completely relaxed, calm and mellow. There seemed an extra visual sparkle to things. The high was very dreamy and enjoyable. The taste of the raw opium was quite remarkable. Nothing would be felt or tasted on the inhalation, but as I exhaled a delicate flowery perfume would fill my mouth and nostrils. I experienced no real comedown from the opium, and I felt no after effects in the next days, most importantly no craving.
“Well what were they talking about?” I said to myself. “Opium doesn’t seem as addictive as they say, at least not in the ‘smoke it once and you’ll be hooked forever’ way they always warned us about.” So I began to indulge from time to time in a little bit of opium, usually smearing the fresh juice from the poppies directly onto a rolling paper or marijuana buds. I quickly discovered that the latter technique, dabbing the white latex onto green weed and then immediately smoking it in a bowl, was a far more effective method of using the opium than when smoking it on the paper of a joint, which seemed to waste much of the opium. I began to really enjoy adding just a touch of opium to a bowl of weed to heighten the effects. It was weird, because after a time the opium was no longer getting me significantly higher anymore, or higher in a more enjoyable way, than weed alone would. But for some reason I just found the whole experience of weed and opium so much more rewarding and enjoyable.
It didn’t seem like that extra edge of relaxation and calm was really worth the danger of addiction. I began to worry when I was no longer going more than a few days, a week at most, without smoking a bit of opium. Sometimes I would even smoke it two or three days in a row, an action which I knew with absolute faith was profoundly stupid, the quickest way to lead to addiction. There was something enormously compelling, I now realized, about opium. I began to understand. It is not that amazing of a feeling really, but once you’ve gotten the taste for it for some reason it becomes linked very closely with the feeling of satisfaction in the brain. I won’t be satisfactorily high unless my pot is laced with opium. Bizarre thinking like that. I would always feel like adding a little bit of opium to a bowl of weed, and often had to struggle not to. It was so easy, since all I had to do was take a little jaunt and collect a few poppies.
As the opium high itself was becoming less enjoyable I began noticing the beginning signs of withdrawal. After smoking opium consecutively on two or three days I would panic, and make myself stop. I really was at all times aware and concerned that the substance I was smoking was addictive. It would be truly foolish to get addicted when I knew better, I kept telling myself. I would feel okay on the first day, then the second day I would start fiending a bit, desiring to smoke an opium laced bowl. On the third day I would begin feeling a bit sad and depressed, and this feeling would intensify on the fourth and fifth days, gradually easing after that.
I knew the opium was messing with my emotions. Sometimes I would cry for no reason (other than it having been a few days since my last poppy adventure), and I often felt feelings of sadness and depression out of the blue. Sometimes my body would ache, like I was perpetually overtired, and I would feel like I was just beginning to get a cold. After five or six or seven days I usually felt okay again, and would even question whether what I had been experiencing in the previous days was related to the opium. Maybe I was getting sick, I would say to myself. And so with the temptation all around me I would end up taking another poppy, gently slicing open its flesh and pouring the milky white venom onto my innocent marijuana flowers. As soon as I felt that sweet perfume when exhaling I would feel simulataneous exultant relief and bliss, and a nagging feeling that everything I was doing was wrong, that I was digging myself into some kind of hole.
There was really a week or two that ended the whole thing. It was late august, and I began to come to terms with the fact that I would have to drastically reduce my opium consumption in the near future. I had made a rule never to seek out or buy any other opiates, I would hold it to the poppies and nothing else. I made up a stash of 12 opium-smearing rollies, with the idea of rationing them, a one-per-month limit. I managed to smoke about six of them within the week. I decided I really needed to stop. Same routine, but the withdrawal effects (now that I recognized what they were) were gradually getting more noticeable. There was also this experience I had, which kind of scared me.
I had started vapourizing little bits of opium resin with a hot knife (like one would do with hash or oil), as this produced a very strong rush after just one or two hits. This time I had a freshly sliced poppy, and I vapourized a big amount of the latex and inhaled it all. It immediately blasted me into this space where I lost contact for a moment with the outside world. It was a powerful, heavy rush. Up till this point I had no idea opium could give such an incredibly fast and strong distortion of reality. It was almost like taking a hit of salvia in a way. The main impression I brought back from this short-lived rush was that of an overwhelmingly sticky sweet feeling. The flavour and taste of the opium were burned vividly in my mind by this experience.
When coming out of this opium trance state I noticed that my body had unconsciously taken the initiative, and thrown the opium poppy heads far away from me. There was a feeling that I had then of pure evil and malignance in the juice of the poppies. I think it was really this experience that broke my addiction. After this my desire not to smoke opium was finally stronger than my (still early stages of) addiction and withdrawal symptoms. The first week was pretty tough, the second week easier, and sometime after the third week opium just passed out of my consciousness. A month or two passed and I realized, hey, I haven’t smoked any opium in a long time!
All in all I consider myself pretty lucky. I dabbled too much, too deeply in the flower of joy and am fortunate I got away with it. I was saved because poppies are a seasonal thing, because I tripped myself out vapourizing the stuff, and because I knew deep down that these beginnings of withdrawal symptoms meant the opium use had to stop. I have used opium since then, however I always leave three or four months between uses to ensure there is no chance of addiction, and I always use very small doses. I would not recommend trying this plant, the high is enjoyable but honestly marijuana is more enjoyable and does not have the same addictive properties and terrible withdrawal symptoms as opium does.
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