The opium poppy is a source of beauty in gardens and fields all over the country and the world. But it’s also a source of pain relief and when abused, death. In recent years death tolls from heroin, a derivative of the poppy, have tripled nationwide, and the numbers are just as stark here in West Virginia.
Frontline PBS recently tackled the poppy’s intimate connection to humans, tracing it back thousands of years. It started with the Sumerians in 3400 B.C., who passed it to the Assyrians, to the Babylonians, to the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Persians, the Chinese, British, and in 1905 Congress banned U.S. imports of opium - the derivative of poppy seeds and base of heroin. Little good it did. A black market bloomed thereafter and of course, the 5,000-year-old obsession with the opium poppy continues.
But today our region of the world is in the grips of an especially nasty resurgence of heroin addiction.