91 Depressants whose lives are destroyed by drinking. An equally moving account of a person ravaged by alcohol (and other drugs) is The Rose, based on the life of the late rock singer Janis Joplin. Only When I Laugh, starring Marsha Mason as an alcoholic mother, takes a somewhat more humorous view of the problem drinker.
One of the few resource books on downers is Barbiturates: Their Use and Misuse by Donald R. Wesson and David E. Smith (New York: Human Sciences Press, 1977); both authors are physicians. A novel in which downers figure prominently is Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls (New York: Bantam, 1967), which was also made into a movie. The minor tranquilizers and their manufacturers are strongly criticized in The Tranquilizing of America: Pill Popping and the American Way of Life by Richard Hughes and Robert Brewin (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovano-vich, 1979). One woman's personal story of addiction to Valium is told in I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can by Barbara Gordon (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), recently adapted for the screen.
The best information on general anesthetics will be found in Licit and Illicit Drugs by Edward M. Brecher and the editors of Consumer Reports (Boston: Little, Brown, 1972), an excellent book that also has a good section on sedative-hypnotics. A short but entertaining and informative book on nitrous oxide is Laughing Gas (Nitrous Oxide) edited by Michael Sheldin and David Wallechinsky, with Saunie Salyer (Berkeley, California: And/Or Press, 1973).
The history of opium dating back to ancient times is presented in Flowers in the Blood: The Story of Opium by Dean Latimer and Jeff Goldberg (New York: Franklin Watts, 1981). Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater, first published in 1821, is available in a modern edition (New York: Penguin, 1971). The Opium Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey by Grevel Lindop (New York: Taplinger, 1982) is a fascinating biography of the man who became world-famous at the age of thirty-six, when his Confessions appeared. Joseph Westermeyer's Poppies, Pipes, and People: Opium and Its Use in Laos (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1982) is an interesting analysis by a psychiatrist/anthropologist. A number of novels concern opium, among them Charles Dickens's last work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, written in 1870 and concluded by Leon Garfield (New York: Pantheon, 1980), and Wilkie Collins's classic from 1873, The Moonstone (New York: Penguin, 1966). Louisa May Alcott wrote a short story about opium: "A Marble Woman: or, The Mysterious Model," collected in Plots and Counterplots: More Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott, edited by Madeleine Stern (New York: William Morrow, 1976).
Was this article helpful?