North Americans are the world’s most compulsive and prolific users of legal opioids. Author Carlyn Zwarenstein, diagnosed with an inflammatory spine disease as a young mother, eventually turned to them to manage her pain. In this lyrical update of Thomas De Quincey’sConfessions of an English Opium-Eater, she recounts her search for relief and release — with its euphoric ups, hallucinatory lows and desperate pharmacy visits.
Along the way she traces the long tradition of opium’s influence on culture and imagination, from De Quincey to Frida Kahlo. Part love letter to Romanticism, part critique of modern medicine, Zwarenstein’s memoir offers a distinctly different riff on pain, creativity and mind-altering drugs.
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