Opium produces a calm and dreamy state of mind, and is most associated with Asian cultures.
Opium is the sticky gum that exudes from the capsule of the opium poppy. When the poppy capsule is scored with a small knife, the latex or sap oozes out; its milky white colour turns to brown when exposed to the air. It contains over 40 alkaloids, of which the most powerful is morphine. One of the oldest psychoactive plants known to human cultures and first mentioned by the Sumerians over 3,000 years ago, opium was the only really effective medicine for much of history, and is still a primary source of painkilling drugs today. Its medicinal uses have always been complemented by spiritual and hedonistic consumption, with the dividing lines often difficult to locate.
Opium contains a complex mix of alkaloids, but the effects of morphine are prominent; consequently we can say that opium is a central nervous system depressant which produces a calm, drowsy, tranquil and dreamy state of mind; in large doses it brings deep sleep and overdose can result in death.
Opium is not widely available in the recreational drug cultures of the UK; its bulk and pungent aroma make it difficult to smuggle compared with its more potent derivative, heroin. Nonetheless, it does crop up quite regularly on the scene. It usually comes from Afghanistan or one of the surrounding countries, and is most likely to be brought in by individuals and in small quantities.
Opium still carries powerful cultural associations with the romantic poets (DeQuincey and Coleridge being its most famous British literary devotees), with the ‘mystic orient’ and with secret dreams and exotic sensual pleasures; these associations are traded on by Yves Saint Laurent’s 'Opium' perfume and by many other advertisers.
Opium is a Class A drug. In its raw form it is a schedule 1 drug but in a medicinal form it is schedule 2. It is an offence to possess, supply or produce.
Possession of Class A drugs carries a maximum sentence of 7 years’ imprisonment and/a fine. Trafficking offences carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a fine.
Free, confidential information and advice is available by calling the Release Drugs Helpline on 0845 45 00 215