Dr Oliver Wendell Holmes On The Glories Of Ether Sniffing

"1 once inhaled a pretty full rinse of ether, with the determination to pot on record, at the earliest moment of regaining cnnsclouanuis, the thought [ fihuubt find tippermtwt in my mind. The mighty mosic oj th« triumphal march into nothingness reverberated through my brain, and filled me with a senof infinite possibilities. which made me »n archangel for n moment. The veil ef eternity we lifted. The unc(¡reut truth which underlies all human experience and it the key to all the mydefies that philosophy has sought in vain 1« solve, flashed upon me in a sudden revelation. Henceforth all was clear: a few words had lifted my intelligence to the level of the knowledge of the cherubim. A«'my natural condition returned, I remembered my resolution; and staggering tu my desk. 1 wrote, in ill-shaped, straggling character*, the all-embracing truth still glimmering in my cuntcuiu&ni-si. The words were these (children may »mile; the wiae will ponder): .'A strong smell of turpentine prevails throughout." "

Dr, Oliver Wendell Holme» atUT ether expert mama while a student at Harvard

Medical Schf.nl, 1670

Althougli edier drinking for kicks goes back to the 1700s, the first "epidemic" was observed in Northern.. Ireland in (he middle of the nineteenth century. At thai lime whiskey was very expensive because of a stiff Brilish tax, so poorer folks in need of a potent drop turned to ether, lax-exempt and din cheap. The intoxicating effects^ of -ther


1847 cartoon from Punch

were popular knowledge lo these people because the liquid had been in use for years by devout Catholics who had taken the no-alcohol pledge daring an intense temperance campaign conducted by ihe church. At one time ii was estimated thai one-eighth of Ihe population of Ulster was nsing ether regularly.

Eiher drinking became a popular pastime in the United Stales following ihe start of Prohibition, and the fad continued to thrive for a few years after repeal of the anti alcohol laws. Undesirable effects of ether drinking include chronic gastritis, the danger of death from overdose or fire (it is very flammable) and one hell of an ugly hangover. If there is any illicit use of ether going on these days, it is likely that people are inhaling rather than drinking the stuff.

ANALGESICS Analgesics are different from anesthetics in that they do not usually produce unconsciousness or heavy sedation. While most pain killers, including aspirin, are abused, it can be difficult, to distinguish between analgesics used for pain relief and those used lo gel high.

Consider Darvon, the Lily brand of propoxyphene hydrochloride often prescribed with aspirin or aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine (APC). Chemically related to methadone, Darvon can produce tolerance and physical and psychic dependence when chronically overused, and it will precipitate withdrawal symptoms in opiate addicts. Besides euphoria, the drug has been known to cause dizziness, headache, sedation, exojtement and gastrointestinal distress. Widely prescribed for even faidy moderate pain, loo much Darvon can cause convulsions, coma and death from respiratory depression. Yet, in spite of Ihese potenl-sounding credentials, some people cannot get relief from even a minor ache with the drug, and copping a buzz from ihe stuff, is oui of the question.

Percodan is another analgesic that sometimes makes an appearance in illicit, circles. Prescribed for moderately severe pain, it is known chemically as Oxycodone hydrochloride, Oxycodone teiephthalate and APC.. It can produce tolerance and dependence and should not be used by people with glaucoma or damaged kidneys or liver, or in combination with any other CNS depressant, j.

The most powerful of Ihe pain killers are either derivatives of opium or synlhet'u: morphine substitutes, all of which have been used to produce dreamy, carefree states of exalted existence. Opium, morphine, codeine and olher naturally derived poppy products are fully covered in ihe opiates chapter.

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