POPPIES: Odyssey of an Opium Eater by Eric Detzer

POPPIES: Odyssey of an Opium Eater

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Caustic, brooding confession by a self-described ""dope fiend"" of his 17 years as an opiate addict. Unlike the typical street-corner junkie, Detzer kept a family, a house in Seattle, a career as a psychiatric social worker throughout his addiction. But during his off-hours, junk consumed him. He followed the standard track at first--gulping down codeine cough syrup, shooting heroin--until one day he discovered opium poppies growing in abundance throughout the Seattle area. A shallow slit in the walnut-sized pod and out comes white, gummy heaven. Soon Detzer was raiding neighborhood gardens, cruising forest highways, even buying dried poppy arrangements from local florists, meanwhile reassuring himself that he could quit ""anytime."" Often he shook loose the monkey, only to watch it scramble up his back again. Methadone, naltrexone, ""greymail"" contracts, intensive therapy--all failed. Finally, the maturity of middle age came along and seemed to do the trick. At present, Detzer is clean, angry, broadcasting his message that ""drug addiction is not maladaptive. It is bad, evil, and just plain wrong. It is a sin."" Don't be misled--this isn't your standard Reaganite ""get-straight"" testimonial. Sometimes Detzer comes on like William Burroughs--when he's fantasizing about his kinship (genealogically authentic, apparently) with Vlad the Impaler, when he's lashing out at psychiatrists and pharmacists. He describes his wife and children with chilling bluntness; he vents his spleen to all points of the compass. Yet the man has a nightmare to tell, and he tells it well. A good choice to scare off a kid toying around with drugs.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1988
Publisher: Mercury--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)