From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Drug subcultures are groups of people loosely united by a common understanding of the meaning and value (good or otherwise) of the incorporation into life of the drug in question. Such unity can take many forms, from friends who take the drug together, possibly obeying certain rules of etiquette, to full-scale political movements for the reform of drug laws. The sum of these parts can be considered an individual drug's "culture".
There are multiple drug subcultures based on the use of different drugs - the culture surrounding cannabis, for example, is very different from that of heroin, due to the different sort of experiences, sentiment amongst the crowd who is attracted to the drug in question, as well as the problems the users encounter.
Drugs also play an important role in various other subcultures, such as reggae music, rastafari and hippy movements. Many artists, especially in the XIX century, used various drugs and explored their influence on human life in general and particularly on the creative process. A prime example is Artificial Paradises by Charles Baudelaire.
- from an older Wikipedia page, updated in 2013 wat Opium#Cultural_references
There is a rich and longstanding literature by and about opium users. Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is one of the first and most famous literary accounts of opium addiction written from the point of view of an addict, and details both the pleasures and the dangers of the drug. De Quincey writes about the great English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, another famous literary opium addict.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, references to opium and opium addiction abound in English literature, as can be seen, for example, in the opening few paragraphs of Charles Dickens's unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short story The Man with the Twisted Lip, Holmes visits an opium den in order to pursue his investigations, but his lucidity upon shedding his disguise outside the den suggests that he did not partake of the drug. Other works from nineteenth century Britain include "The Lotus-Eaters" by Alfred Lord Tennyson and (some would argue) "Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti, which depicts thinly-veiled experiences of addiction and withdrawal. Oftentimes, characters in Edgar Allan Poe works are opium users (see "The Oval Portrait" and "Ligeia"), and sometimes the usage of drugs and its corresponding hallucinations or experiences are depicted. Poe himself is not believed to have used opium. Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan" is also widely considered to be a poem of the opium experience. In 1957 the physician Douglas Hubble wrote an article called "Opium Addiction and English Literature" that chronicles the use of opium by prominent English writers, and its influence on their works.
Jack Black's memoir You cannot Win chronicles one man's experience both as an onlooker in the opium dens of San Francisco, and later as a "hop fiend" himself. In the House of the Scorpions, Mexico becomes a place where opium is planted. Oscar Wilde also wrote of opium use in The Picture of Dorian Gray when the main character visits a den to alleviate his chronic thinking and to add to the dark reputation that the lead character develops.
In the twentieth century, as the use of opium was eclipsed by morphine and heroin, its role in literature became more limited. In The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, Wang Lung, the protagonist, gets his troublesome uncle and aunt addicted to opium in order to keep them out of his hair. William S. Burroughs autobiographically describes the use of opium beside that of its derivatives. The book and subsequent movie, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, may allude to opium at one point in the story, when Dorothy and her friends are drawn into a field of poppies, in which they fall asleep.
Hector Berlioz' Symphony Fantastique tells the tale of a man who overdosed on the drug thinking of the woman he loves. Each of the symphony's five movements takes place at a different setting and with increasingly audible effects from the drug. For example, in the fourth movement, Marche au Supplice, the artist dreams that he is walking to his own execution. In the fifth movement, Songe d’une Nuit du Sabbat, he dreams that he is at a witch's orgy, where he witnesses his beloved dancing wildly along to the demented Dies Irae.
"No nation so ancient," says Johnston in his Chemistry of Common Life “but has had its narcotic soother from the most ancient times; none so remote or isolated but has found within its own borders a pain-allayer or narcotic pain-dispeller."
The trade of drugs has existed for as long as the drugs themselves have existed. However, the trade of drugs was fully legal until the introduction of drug prohibition. The history of the illegal drug trade is thus closely tied to the history of drug prohibition.
In the First Opium War, Great Britain attempted to force China to allow British merchants to trade in opium with the general population of China. Although illegal by imperial decree, smoking opium was common in the 19th century and was believed to cure many health problems.
Drugs, both medicinal and recreational, have been mentioned in literature since ancient times.
Since the 1930s, references to drug use in music have been common, and have prompted several studies on the link between such references and increased drug use among teens and young adults.
Some anti-drug films like Reefer Madness have become popular as "stoner movies" because their anti-drug message is seen by viewers as so over the top that the film amounts to self-parody. The series of movies in the 1970s starring Cheech & Chong are archetypal "stoner movies."
- Writing on Drugs
- Drug prohibition
- Entheogenic drugs and the archaeological record
- The Great Binge
- Sacred herbs
- History of alcohol
- Club des Hashischins
- Project MKULTRA