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Opium smokers in an opium den

Opium smokers in an opium den

M372/0055

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Credit

GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Opium addiction. Engraving of a Chinese opium den full of opium addicts. The drug is smoked through a pipe held over a heat source as at bottom left. Opium consists of the sap from the unripe seed capsules of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum. One of the active chemical ingredients of opium is morphine. Once taken, this drug occupies nerve receptor sites in the brain and brings pain relief, pleasure and euphoria. With regular use, the body begins to require more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Long-term problems include addiction, malnutrition, low blood pressure and respiratory problems. Image taken from a book published in 1843.

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