Preface [chapter]

1982 Poppies, Pipes, and People  
This book is meant for the reader interested in opium and its uses, benefits, and consequences among the people in Laos. It is based primarily on my experiences as a physician, public health worker, and researcher there between 1965 and 1975. Research work of others conducted in Asia and my own work elsewhere in Asia and in the United States supplement these firsthand observations from Laos. Several different research methodologies were employed to examine opium, its uses, and its effects. To
more » ... gin with, I focused on ecological, sociocultural, and agroeconomic issues. Later my efforts focused on lengthy interviews with addicts and their families. Several epidemiological surveys were undertaken in different communities, utilizing several methods of case finding. Addicts and their families were studied in general medical settings, as well as in special treatment facilities for addicts. Folk treatment methods for addiction were described, along with the milieu, inhabitants, and functions of opium dens. Treatment outcome for addicts was evaluated, with a comparison of a Buddhist monastery program and a multimodality medical program. In recent years I have had the opportunity of studying former addicts from Laos who are now in the United States as refugees. The diversity of these experiences and observations presents certain inherent advantages and disadvantages for the reader. On the beneficial side, numerous facets of opium and its uses are presented, as opposed to a single social, medical, or economic focus. It is hoped that this will allow the reader to see the complexity of the issue, the desirable as well as undesirable aspects of this widely praised and widely condemned substance. But there is a disadvantage as well. If I have done xix
doi:10.1525/9780520311107-002 fatcat:tkvwzyof3fendh2mdnpl6js6a4