San Leandro Record

September 25, 1875


The Opium-eater

The confirmed opium-eater in the East seldom lives beyond the age of forty, and may be recognized at a glance by his trembling steps and curved spine, his sunken, glassy eyes, and sallow, withered features. The muscles, too of his neck and fingers often become contracted. Yet incurring even this penalty will enable him to indulge his vice only for a certain length of time. Unlike the healthy enjoyment which we derive from our appetite of hunger, and Nature herself renews periodically, the enjoyment of the opium-eater gradually diminished as his system becomes habituated to the drug. From time to time he must increase the quantity which he takes, but at length no increase will produce any effect. Under these circumstances he has recourse to a dangerous expedient; he mixes a small quantity of corrosive sublimate with the opium, the influence of which is thus for a time renewed. Then these means also fail; when the victim must bear the miserable condition to which he is reduced, until probably, sooner or later, he sinks into the grave. On the exitable temperment of the Malays and Javanese a strong dose of opium causes a state of frantic fury amounting almost to madness, and this often ends in that homocidal mania which has been called "running amuck;" in other words, in the individual attacking with his crease or dagger every one whom he meets, so that it becomes necessary to shoot him down with as little compunction as we do a mad dog. In Java, opium is not allowed to be sold except in an adulterated form, the risk of these evil consequences being thus in some measure lessened. -- Popular Science Monthly


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