“I’ve recently completely changed my mind about vaporizing technology. It is a marvelous experience to inhale the essence of pure vaporized Cannabis flower, and vaporizing is so far superior to smoking that I feel like an idiot I was so blindly opinionated for so long without simply trying it.”
Both my parents smoked cigarettes, and I loved the smell of tobacco and the rituals surrounding it. The click of my Dad’s Zippo lighter as he flipped it open, the aroma of lighter fluid, then the scratch of the wheel and the muted whoosh of flame, followed by Dad’s first eager puff and long, slow, savory exhale. Cigarettes were actually real tobacco in those days, and their aroma was literally intoxicating to me. So naturally I began smoking too when I was pretty young.
I first discovered Marijuana when I was seventeen, and fell in love with the tastes and smells of those first strains to hit the streets of California – Acapulco Gold and Oaxacan Purple, and the mysterious Panama Red that occasionally drifted up from Florida. Of course, most of what we got was Mexican Smash – leaves, stems and the occasional beetle glued together with Coca Cola – but it was still great smoke as long as you were young and stupid and had no taste. The Marijuana we took huge risks and paid big money for in 1960 you couldn’t give away today, and rightfully so.
However, beginning in my 50’s it was clear that smoking was damaging my health, as was drinking, so I gradually phased both (mostly) out of my life. I did enjoy the occasional bud that floated my way out of the inherent kindness of the universe, and when I would find myself near a promising bar I wouldn’t deny myself the pleasure of a good margarita. But by & large I tried to become much more moderate, and even in moderation I was finding the experience of drinking and smoking was losing its appeal.
Moderation is a great thing – in moderation – and now that I find myself newly settled back in Oregon I am delighted to be able to walk into great little gourmet Cannabis shops and select a gram of bud from a strain I’ve never tried before. For a small party we had a few weeks back and I bought a Cannabis Tasting Flight, a gram each of the budtenders six favorite top shelf Sativa/Indica selections, the same way I would have for a Wine or Tequila Flight. How pleasant to be able to enjoy Cannabis as a normal part of life without the tinge of paranoia that was always (quite rationally) present.
But what adds so much to my pleasure in trying out all these new strains is that I don’t have to smoke any more. I’ve found that I can vaporize a pinch of dried flower in an efficient little device and enjoy this particular strain’s unique flavors and aromas along with whatever body and mind effects I’m looking for in a particular strain.
Nobody has to be old to enjoy the benefits of vaporizing whole Cannabis flowers, but if you are getting on in years like I am and want to be able to enjoy the medicinal and recreational benefits of Cannabis without the toxic side-effects of smoke, as I do, then you’re going to really appreciate the new whole flower vaporizing technology that’s out there. For me, it’s so superior to smoking the divine weed in any kind of pipe that I am never going back.
Don’t get me wrong – I love smoke. All kinds. Always have. I miss the days of walking out to the airplane across the tarmac, inhaling the jet fuel and diesel equipment fumes that smelled like freedom. Around campfires I would always take the downwind spot and enjoy inhaling the clouds of burning wood and charring meat. I couldn’t get enough of trains and train stations, and once underway I always spent as much time as possible between the cars enjoying the motion, the sounds, and the smells of the smoke trailing back from the diesel engines far ahead. Pulling out of Tokyo harbor in 1949 on an old Navy troopship carrying hundreds of military women & children back to America, the air full of salt, fish, garbage, oil and diesel, the whole ship vibrating beneath my feet and great clouds of bunker fuel fumes coming from the smokestacks and from the hard-revving tugs alongside – I was in little kid heaven.
I have to admit that for years I held a lot of ill-informed opinions about vaping, and I still don’t like the idea of inhaling the vapors of chemically-processed anything, even supposedly “natural” Cannabis products like Wax & Shatter. In retrospect it looks to me like vaporizing technology, or at least vaporizer marketing, skipped right past whole dried Cannabis flowers and went straight to more easily manufactured and standardized but potentially lethal products, and huge numbers of people went along without thinking.
Unfortunately too much of the Cannabis industry seems to have fallen into this trap. Although hundreds of growers are producing thousands of beautiful, flavorful, exotic strains of Cannabis, most shops price and sell these flowers based on their THC levels without regard for taste and smell, mind/body effects like creativity or couchlock, or therapeutic effects like sleep initiation or appetite stimulation. It is as if fine wines were being sold primarily for their alcohol content, on the premise that nobody cared about enjoying them any other way.
Out of an enormous worldwide market for cheap addictive chemicals in sleek little devices has come the shadow world of unregulated vaping compounds packaged in colorful, toy-like electronic inhalers. I’m afraid that a lot of people are being conned into inhaling vapors of cheap industrial chemicals from China and India in totally unregulated compounds disguised with clever names and fruity flavors. I’m concerned that many of these folks are going to have deep regrets sooner rather than later. I would not be surprised at all to see epidemiologists soon begin announcing the discovery of a mysterious multi-symptom epidemic of irreversible neurological damage among young people that will ultimately be traced to vaping these clever little toys filled with whatever industrial chemicals the device manufacturer thinks will kick ass.
In whatever terrible ways that onrushing tragedy may evolve, I’ve recently completely changed my mind about vaporizing pure Cannabis flower. It is not only a marvelous experience in itself, but it is so far superior to smoking that I feel like an idiot I was so blindly opinionated for so long without simply trying it. I’m writing this post because I’ve come to believe that vaporizing dry Cannabis flower may be the best medical and recreational option for many people my age – let’s just say someone who’s well into those golden years.
Older people who want to enjoy Cannabis as part of a lifestyle or who find that Cannabis is a helpful medication need to discover that vaporizing Cannabis flowers is a smoke-free option with real advantages. For one thing, your body isn’t being subjected to Cannabis smoke, which in addition to the good stuff like THC also contains concentrated particles of carcinogenic soot as well as carcinogenic combustion gasses. Smoke itself, any smoke, is full of substances and chemicals created by combustion that are known to lead directly to horrible diseases. That’s true of any smoke coming from any combusted organic matter – Cannabis, cigarettes, backyard grills, fireplaces or campfires.
I’ve found vaporizers easy to use – at least my device is simplicity itself and if it lasts over a couple of years I’ll consider it a worthwhile buy. All I have to do is to pinch off a bit of Cannabis flower and put it into the small ceramic chamber, tamp it down and then put the mouthpiece back on, tap in the code and wait a few seconds for the digital readout to show me that the chamber is at 400 degrees, and then draw in a stream of almost invisible vapor.
My first hit of fresh Cannabis flower vapor is exactly like the first long sip of a cold beer on a hot day – I know there won’t be a better sip in the whole bottle. All of the volatile, delicate flavors and aromas of the flower come across fresh and intact in that first sip of vapor. Everything that follows, while enjoyable and pleasant, can never equal that first rush of magical molecules.
I find that if I stop after the first hit of vapor (I wish I were inclined to do so more often), I am already close to where I want to be, and I find that I need only a few tokes on the vaporizer to enjoy the same results that would otherwise take a whole bowl or joint. I like that I am not subjecting my increasingly aging body to the toxic stress of smoke just so that I can enjoy being high and receiving the health benefits of Cannabis.
Whether you are medicating with Cannabis, or simply relaxing with a bud after a long day, by using a vaporizer you will be able to do so discreetly, cleanly, and without the toxic side effects of smoke. Vaporizing is an especially nice way to use Cannabis as a sleep aid because your body doesn’t have to deal with the toxic effects of smoke in order to get the beneficial effects of the vaporized THC and CBD. Just fire up the vaporizer, take a clean, sweet hit, lie back, relax and drift off to sleep. It’s especially nice not to have to worry about choking your partner with a bedroom full of smoke at 2 AM just because you’ve woken up and need a hit to get back to sleep.
Another real advantage of using a vaporizer is that your environment isn’t permeated by stale smoke. As delightful as those first hits of fresh bud are, a Cannabis smoker’s living space quickly gets as nasty as any cigarette smoker’s cave. Stale smoke is just stale smoke, no matter how delightful its origins. But with a vaporizer, especially if you only take the first few puffs when the vapor is so pure that it is practically invisible, there is almost no lingering odor to disturb others or to betray you to the smoke Nazis that seem to be on patrol everywhere these days.
Bottom line – if you’re getting on in years and haven’t tried vaporizing Cannabis flowers as an alternative to smoking then you owe it to yourself to have the experience. It may open up new possibilities in areas of fun and pleasure that you thought were fading away, and it will certainly make using Cannabis for your health, vitality and medical needs a lot cleaner and more private.
But perhaps the best reason of all to vaporize is that smoking is now a relic of the past, just like living in caves – people have loved the essence of Cannabis since the dawn of time, and for thousands of years we had to inhale smoke to enjoy that essence (except for bhang, of course), and so we all went ahead, fired it up, lay back and watched the shadows dancing on the walls of the cave. Now that vaporizing technology has arrived we don’t have to smoke to enjoy and benefit from Cannabis, and I for one am happy to leave those delightful but poisonous clouds far behind in the cave where they belong.
“A true opium of evil people is a belief in nothingness after death — the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, and murders that we are not going to be judged.” Czesław Miłosz
While there is no denying the power of Opium to addict, that power is not universal, nor is it always invincible. Dr. Calkins book is filled with exceptions, as well as with sad stories of those who were not exceptions. This chapter is largely about those who were victims.
However terrible the power of Opium to addict has always been and still can be for many people, the current “Opioid Crisis” isn’t really an Opium crisis. Instead, it is a crisis born of chemical manipulation of the natural gift of the Poppy into a chemical weapon, used for their own purposes by the world’s governments, banks, oligarchs, dictatorships, gangs, corporations, and other organized criminal organizations.
Perhaps the greatest virtue of Cannabis is that almost none of the power that Opium possesses is given to the evil ones of this world by Cannabis. There has been exploitation, and plenty of evil intent has surrounded Cannabis in the past, but that was not because of the power of Cannabis to addict, which is does not; rather it was because of the power of Cannabis to liberate and give pleasure without addiction.
Just as the spiritual side of people has been corrupted by organized conspiracies in the form of churches, the pleasure-loving and creative side of Cannabis has been corrupted by those who, for a moment in time, controlled its sources. That time is now over, and the criminals have largely moved on to chemicals with the indisputable power to addict, enslave, and exploit. Where the Opium Poppy has been cruelly manipulated by the world’s dark masters to enslave whole generations, the Cannabis flower has never given those dark forces the power of addiction to use as a weapon against mankind.
Why call these chemical monstrosities forged from the flower of the Poppy weapons? Because they are employed precisely like all weapons, to force people to do the will of those who wield the weapon, and in this case the forces applied by the weapon are destitution, degradation, suffering and death.
The purpose seems to be to extract wealth of whatever pitifully small amount is possessed, and political acquiescence to whatever agenda is decreed, on the part of the maximum number of people while at the same time rendering them incapable of resistance or protest.
For some reason that I have never been able to discern, there are groups of people, invariably controlled by psychopaths, whose only purpose in life is the enslave other humans. I can’t imagine what satisfaction this gives to these people, but it clearly satisfies their greatest needs because it has been their behavior since the beginnings of time.
However even though I cannot make out the motivation of such people, nor understand what possible satisfaction they obtain, it is nevertheless quite clear to me where the concept of evil comes from, because these people are evil in the flesh, and their victims are the poor, powerless, gullible, careless, foolish and ignorant of the world.
You would think that people with such almost infinite power in their hands would at least try to gain their satisfaction from conquering a worthy opponent, if they are driven to combat rather than peace. But this is not their pattern. Rather, they invariably choose to exploit and overpower easy prey, so perhaps along with great evil goes great cowardice and self-loathing. I am certain that their lives are empty of love, and that although they may delude themelves into thinking that their power and wealth brings them pleasure, I am certain that they never once experience joy in their terrible lives.
But all I really know about these people is that they are beyond my understanding.
With that, allow me to introduce you to Chapter 17 of the great 1870 book “Opium And The Opium Appetite” by Alonzo Calkins, MD, in which he discusses the grip of Opium on the minds, hearts and bodies of millions of victims in his day. As you read this chapter, please reflect on how little has changed since the good doctor wrote these words over 150 years ago except in one meaningful way. Just as the power of the stone club and sword have morphed into the power of nuclear weapons, the power of the Poppy flower has morphed into the Opioids – Fentanyl, Oxycontin, and beyond.
(From) Opium And The Opium Appetite” by Alonzo Calkins, MD, published 1870
Chapter XVII: Is The Opium-Appetite Qualifiedly Vincible?
“Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum illuc, unde negant redire quenquam” – Catullus
“A fog is not to be brushed away with a fan.” – Japanese Proverb
Under existing physical debility, so impetuous are the longings for an adventitious stimulus of some sort, so various and plausible are the reasons alleged and the excuses offered for the using of such, so ingenious are the devices contrived for the secret procuring of supplies, and so convenient the subterfuges in exculpation of the fact when suspicion can no longer be quieted nor detection anticipated and avoided, that the doctors have come to receive the protestations of parties implicated with a most skeptical distrust if not with outright incredulity. The opium habit particularly, however carefully covered up against outside observation, must nevertheless drop its veil of concealment when fairly submitted to the scrutiny of an expert.
The turbid complexion, the rugose skin, the shrunken limb, the frigid touch, the tremulous gait, even the zigzaggery of muscular movement as viewed in the chirography alone, may serve as distinctive semeiotic indexes; or if indeed these signs be but faintly pronounced, yet the vivid sparklings and wild glancings of the half-averted eye, so provokingly treacherous to the tongue and its figments, are “confirmation strong” over any and all disguises.
Concurrent testimony is irrefragable testimony. Dr. Oppenheim, speaking for Western Asia, pronounces the influence “a fatal fascination, never to be broken by any wily stratagem or open force whatsoever.” Dr. Pidduck says of the opium eater, that “he can no more break away from his habit than the paralytic imbecile can throw off his lethargy.” Dr. Elliotson’s declaration, that “after diligent and extensive inquiry he could not find the first instance of voluntary renunciation,” is sustained by Dr. Palmer of Ontario, who “had never known, not even by hearsay, of the first instance of permanent reformation after the habit had become confirmed.”
In further attestation of the general conviction is the declaration of Dr. N. Allen, one of our experts upon all questions pertaining to physiology and hygiene, and a scrutinizing inquirer withal, who thus writes: “I have known several of either sex, persons among the foremost for native talent and acquired gifts, who had succumbed to the fatal habit, not one of whom ever succeeded through the use of whatever suggested remedy in breaking loose from the vice and recovering the lost ground.” Among the sufferers he notes in particular a lady of superior endowments and of exalted social position, the wife of a professional gentleman, who has been addicted to morphine for 15 years, and who now (to speak in homely but pertinent phrase) is about used up, or will be eventually, if we take the testimony of one who knows if anybody knows. The victim is as a careless sleeper caught and entwined in the coils of a boa; the grip is that of the Old Man of the Sea, who choked to death the unsuspecting wayfarer when once mounted astride his shoulders.
Detection and exposure, though scarcely avoidable in the end, may be averted or hindered for a season certainly. A woman of 30, who had been upon laudanum for six years at the rate by-and-by of 4 ounces a day, had contrived to keep her habit concealed for half this period even from the husband (Dr. S.). Verily truth is stranger than fiction – sometimes. There is a Mr. C. also, who some months since came under the writer’s personal inspection. This man, a mechanic, having contracted rheumatism in his earlier life (for which he had been treated with calomel to salivation), had resorted to opium as an alleviation of neuralgic pains, going on to such an extent that his physician finally gave him warning he must either break away from his opium or break down under it. This was fifteen years back, and a very considerable reduction of dose was actually made through the next five years; but increasing nervousness, and a super-added debility the consequence of a fistulous drain from one of the thighs, led to a revival of the habit in its pristine intensity nearly. There is an obvious emaciation affecting the entire frame, but the countenance is anxious-looking rather than haggard The dose for a year (as pretended) has been one teaspoonful of laudanum, once repeated, for the day; but not unlikely an ounce rather than a quarter as much would express more nearly the truth in the matter. Besides there is in this instance ocular evidence that example has had its force of operation.
Opium, an equivocal luxury in the beginning daintily approached, becomes ere long under the clamorous demands of a perverted appetite a dire alternative, a magisterially controlling power. Less rigid are the gyres, less galling the manacles that hold fast the malefactor in his prison, than is that bondage of the will-power which oppresses so overwhelmingly the opium devotee. The proximate cause of this moral enfeeblement is, a corporeal condition, a physical want, a power independent in itself and able to subordinate to itself the entire mental machinery. The dominant symptom is an intense constriction, thoracic or abdominal as may be, as intolerable in its operation as it is uncontrollable in its course. This pathologic state is thus adverted to by Van Swieten: “Alvus (opio familiariter adhibito) pertinacissime constringitur.”
Trousseau (and Linsly also) has described the morbid change both minutely and accurately. “The patient awakes from his half-torpid slumbering to a revived consciousness again, with parched fauces, a brassy taste in the mouth and a blistered tongue perhaps; a glacial coldness penetrates the entire frame-work while the body is bathed in sweat; the visceral organs are painfully compressed under the intense corrugation and constriction of the parietal incisures, or agitated with throbs as if they were being rent asunder, and profuse and uncontrollable dysenteric evacuations intensify the general agony, until death, no longer terrible in the immediate prospect, is coveted rather as a comforting alternative.”
Fearful as is the picture, it is no overdrawn representation. A Chinese writer describes the sensation in the stomach as an “indefinable but inappeasable longing;” De Quincey likens the feeling in the organ to “the gnawing of some imprisoned reptile;” the Hospital-patient, Mr. B., speaking from his own experience, pronounces the epigastrial constriction a something horrible beyond description; Grose represents the sufferer under the oppression as half-dead for the time. Mr. B. declares concerning himself, referring to a time when he had undertaken a breakoff, that “for ten days and nights together he lay without closing his eyes in sleep for once, so persistent were the torturings he had to endure.”
There was in New York one Dr. W., a man who had spent all, (not “in riotous living” like that other prodigal, but, worse than that, in the procuring of opium for his daily use), who was in the habit of calling at Naumann’s. About every day he purchased a packet of morphine, 15 grains precisely for the time, or two or three, provided the money held out. “Three such (so he said) would always set him right.” One time, just after leaving the shop and ere a “fit of the trembles” had entirely passed off, he fell upon the curbstone, but a second powder straightway put him on his legs again. No longer able to provide for himself, he was receiving from a friend a fixed gratuity to go for board and clothing; but so overpowering was his appetite that he stinted himself in his fare to bestow the more money on his stimulus. His course and end were what could be easily foreseen; physical wear, penury, and the dejection of spirit incident to his other depressions drove the suffering man at length to his last earthly home, the Island rendezvous.
Of the cases properly ranging with what might be denominated the order of the invincibles is a narrative of one now to come. Mrs. C, age 25, mother that had been and grass widow that was, consulted Dr. L. in reference to some form of sexual malady, yclept for convenience hysterial neuralgia. Some weeks having passed on with various treatment but without visible improvement, the patient after a close questioning one day at length confessed to her habit, declaring at the time that for her to think of renouncing her stimulus was simply preposterous. To show how much she used for the time, she drew out from a small cabinet a vial labelled “sulphate of morphine;” and from this she poured upon the palm of her hand what would weigh apparently about 10 grains. The vial it was now agreed should be committed to the custody of the mother, and be used thereafter only at her discretion. A few days having elapsed, another visit was made. The doctor on entering the chamber found the patient sitting up in bed, arms akimbo and hands nervously grasping the hypochondria, and delivering herself at short intervals and in shrill but half-suppressed utterances, after this style of ejaculation: “Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Mother, mother, give me the morphine!” A casket was brought in, from which having drawn a small bottle she proceeded to saturate her handkerchief with the contents. That liquid was chloroform. With such materials the patient had for a good while been practising upon herself, and with the knowledge and connivance of a homeopathist. In this case constipation had become an established symptom, the entire organic machinery had got racked out of joint, there was a wasting of the body, and, as the countenance too plainly betokened, “leanness had entered into her soul.” “May a man drive away a hungry lion in the wood, or quench the fire in the stubble when it hath begun to burn ?”
A case in conclusion of the chapter will show within how narrow limits the tiger may be chained without being restrained of his liberty altogether. A. F. H., of Ontario county, distiller, born in 1820, is now just 50 years of age. A robust constitution, not seriously impaired until late in life (notwithstanding a salivation undergone in his twelfth year for a malarious fever), was an original inheritance. His ordinary weight at the time of his majority was 195 pounds, and his physical vigor was equal to anybody’s. Compelled by the nature of his business to be exposed much, not to cold alone but to damps also (for sometimes he had to stand in water up to his knees an hour or more), he experienced occasional chills, and later a rheumatic inflammation which determined on the first invasion to the hips and knees. This was in 1848; from which date similar attacks proceeding from similar causes recurred twice a year at first, but later in periods gradually lengthening and also more frequently recurring.
Towards the close of the year 1858, so bent had the limbs become and so stiffened the joints, and to such a degree of intensity had the general suffering advanced, that the victim, who had striven so long and so stoutly to clear himself of the meshy web of symptoms in which he was to be so long and so inextricably entangled, now sensible his waning strength was no longer adequate to the struggle, betook himself to his bed, and kept it too out of sheer necessity for eighteen tedious months, never leaving it all this time only for the briefest periods and when lifted from it by the strong arms of friends at hand. The doctor, aware he was about to have an untoward case upon his hands, appears nevertheless to have “taken the responsibility,” with the vigor of a Jackson if not with the temerity of one. Tonics and nervines, as cinchona, colchicum, the nux, and other articles of approved reputation, appear to have been put to vigorous service, but not with encouraging results. Among the various resorts was opium, which was used for its sedative efficacy from the beginning, but without material advantage anyhow.
Three months had passed, and the patient was now beginning to entertain apprehensions of damage accruing from the continuous use of an agent so potent as opium; but somehow he got reassured again, convinced that the same could be dropped at any time and without embarrassment, in case any palpable detriment should come of it. First used was the concrete gum, in pills of the musket-shot size, three for the day. Subsequently and for experimental trial morphine was substituted, but without manifest advantage, and so a return was made to the original form. There was found to attach to the morphine one advantage, and also a disadvantage. The disturbance of the stomach was less considerable than as before, but there was to offset this a strange sensation as of sinking by a sudden precipitation into a chasm below, a hundred or two hundred feet down. This feeling occurred only concurrently with a doze, and very irregularly at that. It appears to have had something in common with the peculiar thrill of the epileptic aura.
Another three months having matured but without any appreciable benefit derived from the opiates, a gradationary reduction anticipative of ultimate abandonment was proposed and undertaken. At this stage an ounce would last perhaps ten days only, or again it would cover two weeks. The first experiment was with pills graduated by precise differences (the largest for the beginning), so that one ounce should extend through forty days. The sufferer having become very weak and proportionably irritable by the time he had gone half-way, suddenly put ship about, and from this day forward he appears to have followed his own bent very much. By the ninth month from the first the doctor also, whether from distrust of his patient or from discouragement in the course, (one or both considerations operating), ceased to render further attendance.
There was by this time established a complication of symptoms truly disheartening. Constipation beginning very early had long been a fixed condition scarcely alleviable by purgatives or other means, emaciation had proceeded to such an extreme that the skin seemed to hang loose about the limbs very much like the husk over a withered ear of corn, the entire frame was agitated with tossings to and fro, and not unfrequently was felt an alternating sense of heavy oppression, as it were a death torpor creeping over and pervading the entire bodily frame, and the whole aspect betokened a prostration insurmountable and desperate. The appetite, which a full dose would often sharpen up, gave place in the intervals to anorexia, with nausea or vomiting or both succeeding and perhaps the oftener in the early morning. Sleep, irregular in the main, was exempt however from the commonly additional companionship of dreams and visions. After the evening pill (there were usually three, for scarcely once, if that, amidst all these vicissitudes and trials was there an intermission of dose beyond eight hours), the patient would lie in a placid dreamy (not dreaming) repose, giving free scope to his fantastic reveries but “taking no thought for the morrow” meanwhile. The most refreshing sleep followed upon the morning pill. During the waking hours when under the full excitement he would feel “happy as a full-blown sunflower;” in the opposite state with the “ horrors” upon him, “ the sensations were what no imagination can conceive, much more what no pen could describe.”
The first trial at reform, abortive as it had turned out, did not however discourage future attempts undertaken of his own impulses. One time he made up a batch of pills graduated strictly by the scales. After this he hit upon the following device: Sixty pills made out of an ounce of the gum having been transferred to a bottle, there were added as a menstruum just so many tablespoonfuls of whiskey. As often as a tablespoonful-draught was poured off, so often was the vacuity replaced by additional measures of the pure whiskey. The trial was proceeded in until the medicinal strength of the liquor had got reduced by about fifty percent; but here the familiar nervous tremors reviving intercepted the well-intentioned undertaking, and our friend relapsed, to fight again upon the old line, but “not to fight it out upon the old line.”
Having now become excessively restive under repeated drawbacks and thoroughly intolerant of protracted confinement, Mr. H. was ready and on the watch for any “favoring gale” of hope under his complicated infirmities. Engrossed with the “loud talk and the tall professions” of one Mann down in Gotham (a sort of “seventh son of a seventh son”), weak as he was, and with a spine doubled upon itself almost, he journeyed away to New York, elate with joyous expectation in the beginning, but beguiled into a “delusion and a snare” in the end by the like of such fellows as “Keep the word of promise to the ear, But break it to the hope.”
Seven years had this man been a slave to opium, and for six of these years so intense had been the rackings in the joints, he was able to rise out of his chair (for he keeps the sitting posture mostly) no otherwise than as lifted by other hands applied to the armpits. In the course of these years he had at different times called to his aid from near and far physicians not a few, whose respective advisory views when put together for comparison wore a very particolored complexion.
Doctors are prone to disagree, even where they do not agree to disagree. Getting sight accidentally of a circular commending McMunn’s Elixir, he resolved to make a last effort at reform by a reduction upon that. The sensations experienced upon the change were a wonder to himself. The tremors subsided, the intestinal constriction relaxed, digestion and appetite improved, and comforting sleep was had withal, and the frame began to recover something of its original rotundity; and now, after a five-years’ trial, he is as well satisfied with the elixir as he was at the first. An ounce vial lasts for four days to a week, but the desire (never regular now) abates in summer or whenever the mind is preoccupied with extraneous affairs. His general aspect is decidedly good, and but for the spinal incurvation he could work by the ten-hour rule as well as he ever did. Alcohol, though tried, never served him any way as a substitute for the opium. Feeling that by a strong exercise of will he could break with his stimulus any day, he yet holds to the melius-cras idea, the same as thus expressed by Talleyrand, that “it is better to put off to tomorrow what need not be done today.”
It’s probably fair to say that I was in on the beginnings of the contemporary Cannabis revolution, since I wrote the “Cultivators Handbook of Marijuana” in 1968. So, I am as happy as most other fair-minded people over the (almost) final liberation of this great natural gift, in spite of the noxious efforts of pathetic, twisted souls gathered together in government agencies and corporations to first suppress and then exploit it for their private political and economic benefit. Our planet has been good to people, giving us vast riches that unfortunately, for the most part, we seem to take for granted, as though this is all our birthright to use and exploit as we see fit. But we are learning.
I thought that I knew the true nature of the gift of Cannabis. I had discovered Cannabis when I was young, and it had changed my mind from an unfocused, struggling half-awake consciousness to a consciousness that could think clearly, discover and appreciate insights, see through and beyond illusions, deceptions and lies, and find and express truth and beauty in places where I would never before have been inspired to search, much less recognize those rare gems when they were put before me by the spirit in my mind.
In short, I thought that the gift of Cannabis was the heightened consciousness that I could achieve as long as I was moderate in its use and careful not to assume that it would always work for me, like some dependable mechanical device. By that I mean found that I could not just smoke it, lay back, and let it do the work of thinking and gaining insight for me. I was lucky enough to discover that smoking Cannabis and automatically receiving the grace of consciousness was no more possible than simply picking up a hammer and watching it build a house for me while I lay back and congratulated myself on my skills.
Attaining and then understanding and employing consciousness for the benefit of self and others is hard work, and Cannabis is one of the very best tools that Mother Earth has put in the hands of humans to use in this endeavor, but it is not magic. It doesn’t just happen – although at first, when a young person encounters Cannabis, it certainly seems that way. Ideas begin to flow, the underlying structures and beauty of music appears, colors and shapes reveal themselves, our bodies suddenly become fully sensate, and truth and beauty seem to be everywhere we look.
But that is a friendly illusion, and it does not last. Soon, if you are fortunate, you realize that what seemed to be a pure gift when you were young must become a consciously wielded tool as you grow older. Discoveries come harder and must be validated in the real world, which usually isn’t friendly to real discoveries because they upset the way things “are supposed to be”. Great ideas must be expressed so that they can be communicated effectively in terms that others cannot only understand, but so that they can see why they should care. Ideas are no longer something solitary – for an idea to come alive others must grasp it and be moved by it. It must change lives.
I thought that I understood all this, and that in doing so I had fully understood the nature of the gift of Cannabis. But I was very, very wrong. Although the gift of enhanced consciousness remains, in my mind, one of the great gifts of this sacred plant, it is the gift of natural medicine that marks Cannabis as a truly profound grace bestowed by Mother Earth upon her people, and am not ashamed to admit that I have only recently discovered this truth. It humbles me, once again, to find that I have lived a life best described by the Amish observation: “Too soon old; too late smart.”
Here’s the story.
My wife and life companion has always been the smartest, most vital, strongest, most loving and caring person I have ever been graced to know. Up until a few years ago her health, while not perfect, was always good. A small person, she could perform physical feats that would make big men strain and weep. And she was emotionally resilient, scrupulously honest, rigorously fair, and had an unfailing bullshit detector.
Then in her late fifties she had a health crisis and, thinking that we were doing the right thing, we allowed doctors to do what they confidently said was necessary, which included dosing her with a cocktail of antibiotics. Though we had told them specifically which antibiotics we knew would be harmful, because of her childhood experiences, they were careless and stupid, and she wound up with a destroyed gut.
That was the beginning of years of suffering – SIBO, IBS, Barrett’s esophagus, leaky gut and worst of all, malnutrition. Her body could no longer tolerate almost all foods. Grains, dairy, citrus and most other fruit, many vegetables including legumes. No “nutritional supplements” worked – many of them were poison, especially zinc and other metals. No bread, no pasta, no shellfish and ultimately only one or two kinds of fish, no poultry or eggs. There is a long list of foods that cannot even touch her lips or she will have days of cramping, sweating, joint-wracking pain. And no sleep, or very little sleep. Failing energy, fading vision, and her passion for creating beauty only faintly present on good days.
She beat the SIBO and IBS and she beat Barrett’s. The Doctors didn’t believe that, although it was confirmed by pathology tissue samples. That never happens, they said. Our initial diagnosis must have been wrong. Actually, we pointed out, your initial diagnosis was based on lab tissue pathology reports. Lots of head-scratching and hemming and hawing.
My wife had done her own research after the doctors had pronounced her incurable, and found an American doctor hounded out of the country by his peers because his treatment for Barrett’s worked, and worst of all, it was cheap. She got in touch with him through contacts in France (he had returned to North Carolina), and did what he told her to do, and got complete remission. End of story. Fuck those murderous idiots. Check the link above for the full story of this remarkable treatment for an “irreversible” disease.
But food and sleep have eluded anything she tried. Through iron will she has managed to find the dozen or so foods that she can eat, and we have survived. She keeps making art when she can, and our days are filled with loving each other, laughing at the small wonders of life, and dreaming of better days.
Now, finally, although many will say that we should have known earlier, we have found what appears to be true hope. It is a gift from Cannabis, and its name is Cannabidiol or CBD.
Without overwhelming you with details, at age 70, after years of suffering that we both thought would continue unto death, my wife began taking 40 mg daily of organic, high quality CBD oil in capsules. Although years of suffering and many false starts, it appears that CBD is working. Whether our hopes will last long-term remains to be seen. But her gut pains after every meal, and even after drinking water, have stopped completely. Her digestion and bowels are no longer a source of continual agony. Her appetite is better, although we are still both afraid for her to do something really dangerous like eat an egg or a piece of toast. She is sleeping a full night of restful sleep, every night. She no longer twitches and moans in her sleep. Her eyes are bright all day, and her voice is strong. It is too early to know if her boundless energy, her ability to tolerate normal food, or her pleasure in art will fully return, but even if not, just the relief she has been given so far is a gift beyond measure. For what it’s worth we researched the market and found a little company in Vermont that we like.
If you or someone you love is suffering from any of the diseases or conditions that research is now saying might be helped by CBD then run, don’t walk to the nearest place where you can buy high-quality, laboratory-tested, organic, non-chemically extracted CBD oil and try it.
May it help to heal you or one who you love. It certainly cannot hurt – there are no side-effects. It is a true natural medicine.
CBD is a gift from Mother Earth even greater than THC, and Cannabis is without doubt one of the greatest apothecaries of healing medicine ever given into human hands by the Great Spirit.
(Editor’s note) With this post I am resuming the chapter-by-chapter posting of the remarkable book “Opium And The Opium Appetite” by Alonzo Calkins, MD. This long and challenging book, published in 1870, allows us to hold a mirror up to our current “Opioid Crisis” and see it for what it really is – not a crisis of our times, but an ongoing theme in American life.
In this chapter Dr. Calkins discusses the many cases that he experienced personally, and that he gathered from other physicians and elsewhere, regarding extreme cases of Opium/Morphine consumption. Extremes of consumption were not always tied to addiction, as he points out, and the stories in this chapter ought to make us think twice about the “one dose and you’re hooked” meme that is so popular with those who make a living from ensuring that there is always a plentiful supply of souls in dire need of “rehabilitation” and “recovery”.
Many people born since the 1990’s don’t understand the history of the “Opioid Crisis” because they were not yet born when previous “crises” were being manufactured and sold to the public by breathless media acting as the propaganda mouthpiece of the State. Consider, to take one of the worst examples of social disinformation, the “Crack Epidemic” of the 1980’s that sent tens of thousands of mostly young Black men to prison, creating an entire generation of fatherless Black children and fueling the next act in America’s “drug wars”.
While the “fake news” epithet may seem to be quite contemporary, the fact is that much of the “news” has always been fake, and never so much as when drugs are the topic. For all of his faults, Dr. Alonzo Calkins wrote what he saw and what he believed, and left us a record of what was true 150 years ago and remains true today – we don’t have an Opioid Crisis; we have a permanent crisis of the American soul.
“Opium And The Opium Appetite” by Alonzo Calkins, MD
Chapter XVI: The Posology (Dosage) Of Opium
“Exempla – quorum me turba fatigat.” — Ovid
“Let me have a drachm of poison. Sweet draught! Sweet, quotha? O fool! that now as luscious as locusts, shall shortly be in thy mouth as bitter as coloquintida!” — Romeo and Juliet
By those who have studied the “Ars nihili credendi” many of the statements recorded in this chapter will be transferred to the column of the incredibilia; but there is ample authentication behind nevertheless. Van Swieten refers to a dose of 16 grains as something extraordinary; Garcias (Morewood) knew a woman in Turkey, of good intelligence and of a conversational turn, who informed him her daily consumption was 10 drachms (!). Hufeland mentions a 30-gramme dose, one ounce less half a drachm. As a measure of effect, however, it should be understood the apothecary’s scales are but a very insufficient criterion.
Initial doses vary from a fraction of a grain upward; but amateurs start more boldly, as in the instance of a Chicago youth, who began upon 3 grains of morphine, and ran his course proportionably fast. Surgeon Smith names 5 grains of the chandoo for the neophyte; 290 grains he has known in the case of the veteran. Libermann, in the Chronique Medicale, has given a tabulated summary of a thousand smokers, of whom he kept a record while he was in China engaged in the imperial service, as here classified:
Of the thousand, 646 vary between 1 and 8 grammes, 250 between 10 and 20, and the remaining 104 range from 30 to 100 grammes. (The higher extreme seems scarcely credible, and perhaps the text should read grains.)
The Theriakis of Eupatoria not unfrequently go to 100 grains; the Hamals (porters) of Constantinople not seldom use an entire ounce.
The “big doses” are restricted by no lines of longitude. Dr. Hawkins was informed by a druggist of an eastern county in England concerning a farmer there, who one day came into the shop, asking for an ounce and a half of laudanum. This having been swallowed was after a brief time followed by a second draught, and again by a third, and several ounces besides were purchased for taking home. This “operator” was plainly of the new-school progressives.
But in bold practice New York City and the rest may safely challenge Birmingham, or Paris, or Canton. A woman of Atlanta (a buyer for a considerable time, and if she ain’t gone she lives there still) sends her daughter with the two-ounce vial for laudanum three times a day regularly (Redwine). The cause thereunto moving had been a proclivity to “spiritual liquor.” Wayne gives an instance of 6 ounces; Eimer of the same quantity daily repeated.
Paregoric and McMunn come in for their share in the awarding of honors. Besides the quart-measure are pint cases in plenty by Shedden, Lee, S. Smith, and others. McMunn also talks loud. Dr. Lente knows a woman at Cold Spring, who buys for the week three dozens of bottles. A gentleman who was making a purchase on Union Square one day, declared of himself that he used up, one day with another, 12 bottles. Dr. L. had seen and prescribed for a youth (as he then was), who, having become habituated to strong drink provided by injudicious friends for a lingering diarrhoea of his, had found in this elixir a present quietive for symptoms threatening delirium tremens. On a certain day he was known positively to have taken six bottles. This case, however, is thrown into shade altogether by a record at Binghamton, that of a lawyer, a detenu at the Asylum there half a dozen years since, whose totality was by his own record 3200 bottles, and for a certain day one and two-thirds dozens, the equivalent of a pint of laudanum within one ounce.
Morphine demands a separate section. MacGillivray’s patient has been noted already (chap. xii.). Dr. Gill of London had on his hands one time a professor of vegetarianism (50 years old actually, but, judged by his attenuated limbs and parchment skin 20 years ahead of that mark), whose stated supply was 55 grains. The allowance having been cut down flesh was substituted for porridge and cabbage, and in no long space Mr. Witherskin was able to make a much-improved show in the outer man. A third drachm case is from Redwine, that of “a brother fallen from his high estate,” who had pioneered upon whiskey. A fourth case is of a German woman lately in the hands of Naumann, who by a gradual progression through several years had finally reached one drachm precisely, at which mark she stood a considerable time. This person cured herself by pursuing, at the suggestion of Mr. N. (a very intelligent druggist), the gradative course. The weekly diminutions were made by grain and two-grain reductions in alternation.
A fifth case is communicated by Mr. Leys of Brooklyn, and the detail is a precise transcript of the record. A woman, thirty-five years old at the time of her death, wife and mother both, had been a regular purchaser for the six years precedent to her demise, though a consumer for several years earlier. Of medium embonpoint and with a fair countenance, she would scarcely have attracted casual attention otherwise than by the half-averted but lustrous eye. In regard to constipation hers was an exceptional case, nor was the final sickness (which was of the acute type) obviously traceable to her morbid habit. The dose for the first month of the six years was 16 grains (in the form of Magendie’s solution), which quantity had doubled by six months and quadrupled by the time a year had run. This 16 grains per month had grown by the end of the fourth year to 16 grains per day, and in another year to 20 grains. For the first half of the sixth year the progress was from 20 up to 30 grains; during the final six months one drachm was the measure, regularly called for as the morning came.
Number six is Mr. B., a prominent druggist in the metropolis, age 49, the subject of a severe chronic diarrhoea for half a dozen years. Morphine, which, like Choroebus penetrating the Grecian phalanx now within Ilion’s towers after assuming the helmet of the slain Androgeos, a pretended friend while an enemy in disguise, was early employed for its supposed curative efficacy (and indeed always to the present mitigation of symptoms, for “without it his bowels would run away from him”), but the benefit derived has ever been of ephemeral continuance only. No notable emaciation is observable as yet, nor has the general health become materially impaired. Magendie’s solution (16 grains to the ounce) is the form, and this is taken, an ounce for the time, in very precise measure, to the extent perhaps of four times that in the day, or again a pint may last the week through. He has been known to have his ounce four times in the day, and an additional one at his private office, i.e. 80 grains of the salt. In the general way, morphine to the amount of 15 grains is no uncommon dose; 30 to 36 grains is with rare exceptions the limit.
Gravity of action may be as disproportioned to quantity as is the case of alcoholics. An instance of idiosyncrasy referable to this section is given by Dr. Barnes. The occasion was an existing diarrhoea. With the approbation of a doctor opium had been used daily for three weeks, by the end of which time, “although the flux was subdued the opium was not subdued.” The medicine acted strangely, kindling Then up a fire in the stomach as it seemed, so that for another three weeks nothing swallowed would lie, rice water excepted, and all the vital powers seemed to be flagging. A year having proceeded in this manner, a change to the right-about was resolved on. Agonies and horrors followed upon the breaking up, to abate only by littles, but success was secured at last. For a time from the first, but for a brief period only, a sort of ideal tranquility, a visionary happiness followed each dose, but the subsequent experience was the reverse of all this. The recollection of the sufferings had survived as vividly twenty-five years after as if they had been of yesterday. The dose (the gum was used) had at no time exceeded four grains.
The caprices of single doses taken for a special occasion are even more variant and strange than the operations under continued use. Of minimum doses of fatality there have been noted (as already mentioned) 3 grains of the gum (Grisolle), a grain of morphia, and half an ounce of laudanum, and there have been even less than these. Maximum doses of tolerance are the very antipodes of such. Recovery has followed upon the ingestion of 30 and 60 grains of the gum, and once after 20 drachms had been swallowed. Instances of like result are recorded of morphia in doses of 30, 55, 60, and even 75 grains, and after laudanum, as in two cases, where 5 ounces had been taken, and in a third where the quantity was 6 ounces.
The records of practice in disease are yet more astounding. Doses fearlessly used at this day for various forms of organic derangement would only a half-century since have staggered the boldest. For instance, Pinel allowed a woman at La Charite, far gone with cancer uteri, 120 grains of solid opium for the twenty-four hours, and greatly to the alleviation of symptoms. M. Marc, in the Gazette de Paris, gives a similar case. His patient on one of the days took 62 grains of morphine. Monges and La Roche of Philadelphia had such a patient, whose allowance her last three months was 3 pints of laudanum for a day and a night, with some pure opium extra. For a urethral malformation a woman under Zaviani consumed in the progress of thirty-four years 200 pounds of the solid and above. On some days 200 grains was her mark. Dr. Knight of New Haven once had a patient with uterine cancer, who used daily and for a very considerable time, and without prejudice also, a drachm of morphine at least, and from that even up to 3 drachms. Bellevue Hospital records make a show ahead even of these. In a case of puerperal peritonitis occurring in 1862, Dr. Clark administered in the course of seven days various preparations, equivalent altogether to 200 ounces of opium proper, and on one of the days 472 grains, an ounce to within a fraction.
Rev. G. Smith, an English missionary, made a tour of observation one day around Amoy, having Lim-pai, a reformed opium eater, for cicerone, with the following results. Upon questioning ten persons as met indiscriminately and at random, he found their average to be 1 mace or 60 grains. The general average he ascertained to be 3 candareens (= 17% grains) of the chandoo (Allen). The mean for Aleppo Russell puts at 3 drachms; a high figure certainly, even for the maw of a Turk. Dr. Garrod, however, knew of a Turkish gentleman, a mere youth, who used one drachm in the morning and the same repeated at night, besides the laudanum he took in the intervals, an ounce or more.
At the Pauper-house, Singapore, Dr. Little ascertained that of fifteen persons, smokers for periods varying from 3 to 20 and averaging 11 years, the medium dose was 32 grains. At the Mount Hope Asylum 2 to 4 ounces of laudanum is nothing uncommon (Dr. Stokes). Specific quantities are a drachm of the gum, 1 to 2 drachms of the salt, and a pint of the tincture, so much per week (Moore, Skey). The dose varies much with the pecuniary ability. A purchaser at Giles’s (such is a specimen-case) would get from time to time an ounce of laudanum only, it might be, and again twice or thrice that. Equability and moderation in dose is what is oftentimes but very capriciously respected. A gentleman called one day at Tarrant’s for a scruple of morphine; this, having dropped into a tumbler of water, he swallowed forthwith, with the intent, as was for the moment suspected, of poisoning himself. All anxiety was soon removed, however, by the stranger’s explanation that “such was his way.”
“The small quantity of Opium,” observes Dr. Little, “soon loses its effect, and to produce the requisite excitement the little pea must be doubled and again increased, until, as I have known, the original has got multiplied a hundredfold.”
A married woman turned of 50, who began upon two ounces of laudanum for a week, has now, after a considerable term, attained to the pint-mark (Leys). A spinster of 55 was several years in getting as high as 6 ounces per week. Dr. Palmer reports two cases where the weekly consumption was 2 drachms of morphine, and four others in which the quantity was half that Among his opium-cases was Mrs. O’G., addicted to the drug about forty years, .who by very slow advances had reached at last two drachms for the week, with the addition of a little whiskey taken as a priming. Another instance was Mrs. T., 50 years old at her death, who had been a consumer for nigh upon half of this term. She even in her latter years had not exceeded a drachm for the week to the very last year, but here the quantity was doubled. An extra interest attaches to this last case, in connection with the question of degeneracy. Of the two children born subsequently to the confirmation of the habit, the elder, a son always feeble and sickly, died at fifteen; the daughter, contrarily to what might be expected, now eleven years old, has a robust and thriving aspect. The patient died a year ago of pneumonia.
A lady of Ontario county with whom the writer has conferred, Mrs. S., age 60 or above, mother now of several grown-up children, became an invalid ere she had completed her maiden life; whereupon, with the concurrence of a physician, she sought relief in morphine. From the beginning through the entire period the advances have been very gradual to a drachm for three weeks (the present limit), or if for any special exigency this amount has been at all exceeded, she has ever been careful to recover the lost ground, returning again to the fixed standard. No other medicine has been found upon trial to answer her needs by way of substitution. Those common sufferings, such as constipation, agrypnia and ugly dreams, have not been among her experiences, nor is there during the day any marked exhilaration, or indeed any very definitely-pronounced characteristic, with the exception of the peculiar skin-hue and a somewhat toddling gait. A discontinuance was not advised.
Periodic augmentations in a ratio constantly increasing are according to the normal course; but then there are stages also of what may be called a “satisfied craving,” lasting for months or even years. Formiggini had a patient with a facial neuralgia that had come of caries of the maxilla, who used one gramme of morphine daily. This kept her system at the saturation point; but this precise quantity the lady must have, no less, no more; any excess she could not (or would not) tolerate, and if put on reduced allowance she became desperate (Revue de Paris).
The Lancet, 1832, contains a case not dissimilar. In this instance hysteria was the objective malady. A woman, now of the respectable age of 50, used for her measure 20 grains of the gum, so much precisely, day after day. (These hysterial cases require a good deal of humoring, particularly when spinsters are concerned who have arrived at a “certain age,” that age of all ages the most uncertain.) Dr. S. S. sends the case of a woman twenty-five years old and married, who made a beginning upon laudanum in her 20th year. Lately she has kept herself strictly to 4 ounces for the twenty-four hours; but “this much she will have at all events, even if she must beg for it or steal for it.”
Jones had for a reputed customer an elderly lady of the Hudson River border somewhere along, who purchased her supply of him for several years, sending a granddaughter (her deputy in the transaction) once a month for the pint of laudanum. Like the rest she ceased by-and-by to make report representatively or otherwise. “They come and go,” as Dr. Guion says.
A woman of mature age, an attendant at Eimer’s for fifteen years continuously there was, whose weekly purchase was what would make an average of half a drachm for a day. There was also a teacher attached to one of the public schools in Brooklyn, who was so careful of her ways, that she was at the pains of crossing East River about every four days, to get as many ounces of laudanum from a doctor at the West End (Mr. L.). Her general aspect all this time gave no indication of any progressing deterioration, nor was there so much as constipation complained of. This person all at once ceased to reappear; whether it was that she had opened a new account with another doctor, or whether she had gone to settle an old account with death, did not transpire.
Moderation in quantity and steadiness of dose are oftener observable perhaps in case of congenital infirmity or traumatic lesion; for instance, when spinal irritation or an ununited fracture is the coexisting evil.
Inconsiderable advances upon the existing dose are seldom hazardous, where a large stride might prove critical. An inquest at Bradford, England, brought out the following facts: a woman with chronic asthma (one of those maladies that contraindicate opium absolutely) had taken a dose considerably exceeding the usual one, causing her death only a few hours after. A second case to be adduced comes from Binghamton. A patient there was, who, having strayed off to town one evening, felt disposed to have a fresh sip of an old friend; and so, having purchased two ounces of laudanum he swallowed the whole at once, a quantity he had never ventured on before. Dr. Day reached him, but not immediately, nor until the comatose stage had set in. The battery with other appropriate helps was put to expeditious use, but to no purpose, for death had his victim the very same night.
There was a New York lady, now of middle age, a custom-visitor at Bedford’s for years together, who for the alleviation of an existing intra-pelvic tumor had used morphine a long time, but in very definite and exactly-measured doses always. Her usage was to have the 48 grains (her amount for the day) divided into three-grain packets, so that the times of recurrence should come with the expiration of every hour and a half. One morning it appears, but for some reason not cleared up, she had put four of the divisions together for a single dose, thus having swallowed 12 grains instead of the 4. The stimulative action proper was overwhelmed by the predominant toxic force, and a fatal coma set in.
The rule of progressive cumulation reversed is among the rarest of the rare, and asseverations made to fortify such pretensions must ever be taken cum grano salis, i.e. at a very considerable discount.
There used to present herself very regularly at Goodall’s a young woman with her four-ounce laudanum vial. That she used twice four ounces every day was manifest from a circumstance she did not appear herself to have thought of, the extra label that had been superadded at another shop. There was a merchant who had broken down upon McMunn’s, an irregular visitor at Gates’s, who whenever he called would drink off a vial of the elixir, and take away several of the same sort, for occasional use only as he pretended, when doubtless he did the same thing at other druggeries. A Frenchman, known to Naumann for nineteen years, who all this time and even before had been familiar with laudanum, had a two-thirds ounce vial, which he was very particular to have filled once a day. The double labelling it was that exposed him. Long and freely as this monsieur had been addicted to his stimulus, he showed no distinctive indication of the habit other than in the peculiar sallowness of complexion.
Devices intended for disguising the extent if not the fact of the enslavement are as ingenious and varied as the contrivers are numerous. Two considerations act as prompters to such course; the supposed power of exerting a certain self-control over the paroxysmal excitement, and the apprehension of encountering a frowning public opinion in case the deception is unmasked.
Miss P., a spinster of thirty summers (and who was liable to continue such for as many winters), had purchased of Loines in the course of two years (so the ledger showed) 13 gallons of McMunn’s solution, without enumerating the additional supplies she had certainly procured in the interims from other establishments. This course it appears had been followed up so clandestinely all the while, that outside of her own family not a surmise of the existing habit had found place even among the naturally credulous. Opium eaters, if they cannot obviate suspicion altogether, may by the exercise of a dextrous ingenuity often put this same suspicion on its good behavior. A nibble from the mass, a pinch from the packet or a sip from the vial may create no more wonder, than the brandy flask slyly drawn from the pocket, or the delicate thumbing of the rappee box by the suaviter-faced tourist in the linen overall.
Reductions upon established doses, palpable in quantity if not of permanent continuance too, are to be reckoned among the actualities as well as the possibilities. De Quincey once fell back from his professed maximum of 8000 drops to 1000, and without experiencing any considerable discomfort either. Mr. B. of the Hospital calculated upon personal trials, that for real working service half an ounce of the gum or half a drachm of the alkaloid is as good as twice that. In the occasional use, amidst the daily avocations of business, it is possible to exercise much “prudence and discretion,” what is in accordance with the views of Dr. Pitcher (who appears to have a sharp eye for observation), and also of Dr. Lee. The merchant, for instance, who feels the need of an extra stimulus of some sort, by substituting a pill of opium in place of the half-gill of whiskey, is better able to work himself out of the perplexities of the hour without attracting the notice of some censorious neighbor, who is ever quick in discerning the mote in a brother’s eye though unaware all the time of the beam in his own eye.