Jun 14, 2019
North Americans are the world’s most compulsive and prolific users of legal opioids. In this lyrical update of Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, writer Carlyn Zwarenstein 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 memoir, part critique of modern medicine, Zwarenstein’s short but powerful book offers a “measured” and “urgent” (The Globe & Mail) entry-point to a critical contemporary discussion. From the reviews: “…a sensuous and compelling meditation on using opioids to treat chronic pain. It’s also a delicate ode to the drug’s history. Zwarenstein, whose writing is thoughtful, honest, and elegant, opens her life to us as she guides us expertly through history, citing resources from literary biographies to online drug forums. With a little wink, she even includes a “pain playlist” with songs by Neil Young, Elliott Smith, and The Velvet Underground.