Scratch  

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Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, . . . It is the opium of the people.
--Karl Marx

Opium (poppy tears, lachryma papaveris) is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Opium contains approximately 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade.

The traditional method of obtaining the latex is to scratch ("score") the immature seed pods (fruits) by hand; the latex leaks out and dries to a sticky yellowish residue that is later scraped off. The production of opium itself has not changed since ancient times.

Opium for illegal use is often converted into heroin, which is less bulky, making it easier to smuggle, and which multiplies its potency to approximately twice that of morphine.

Cultural references

Opium and Romanticism, drug culture

Literature

There is a longstanding literary history by and about opium users. Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1822), one of the first and most famous literary accounts of opium addiction written from the point of view of an addict, details the pleasures and dangers of the drug. De Quincey writes about the great English Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), whose "Kubla Khan" is also widely considered to be a poem of the opium experience. Coleridge began using opium in 1791 after developing jaundice and rheumatic fever and became a full addict after a severe attack of the disease in 1801, requiring 80–100 drops of laudanum daily. George Crabbe is another early writer who wrote about opium. "The Lotos-Eaters", an 1832 poem by



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