High Society: smoking caterpillar image

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  • From apothecary to laboratory

    From apothecary to laboratory

    Many of today's illicit drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin, come from plants that have been used as medicines for thousands of years.

  • Self-experimentation

    Self-experimentation

    Most medicinal drugs can be tested in vitro or on animals, and their effects measured and observed in the laboratory. But drugs that alter consciousness can only be fully described by human subjects.

  • Collective intoxication

    Collective intoxication

    Drug use is closely bound up with social interaction. From the Barasana people of the Amazon basin to 1960s love-ins and 1980s raves, drug 'culture' has often expressed itself in the form of shared experience.

  • Drugs trade

    Drugs trade

    The 19th-century opium trade was a crucial factor in the British Empire's rise to global supremacy.

  • A sin, a crime, a vice or a disease?

    A sin, a crime, a vice or a disease?

    By the end of the 19th century, drugs had become more potent and widely available than ever before, and there was a broad consensus that the trade needed to be brought under some form of control.

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