Pipe dreams and nightmares - Page 2

New memoir Opium Fiend documents an obsession with the cause of the "world's first real drug epidemic."

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A historic image snapped by an unknown photographer depicts opium smoking at a private home, probably San Francisco circa 1900

For the curious, Opium Fiend describes the actual experience of smoking, including the specific feelings associated with the high (tranquil, but "it turns you inward," says Martin; he took detailed notes daily, even at the height of his addiction) and the preparation required to achieve the highest-quality result. It's a delicate, time-consuming process, but for Martin that was part of the thrill.

"For me, that was the best part. I was really hooked on the ritual. Once I'd actually learned to prepare the pipes myself, that became my favorite source of entertainment: lying there next to the opium layout, within the glow of the opium lamp, watching myself prepare pipe after pipe. It was just mesmerizing," he says.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say I miss it very much. Sometimes I'll have these very vivid dreams about smoking, and I'll wake up in the morning, lying on my left side, in the same position I used to smoke in. It's crazy — even though I've quit, it won't leave me alone. I think about it all the time."

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