Not to my surprise, my grandfather was not only addicted to opium, but he was addicted to gambling also. I pictured my grandfather back in time, when he was a teenager, number three in the family, without much responsibility. He must have been very handsome and rich, wandering everywhere and attracting attention, getting high on drugs and losing money from gambling. His family had to get him married and hope he would grow up. No, he refused; he was having so much fun. Finally, at age twenty-three, he married my poor grandmother who knew nothing about him.
The Fall of the God of Money: Opium Smoking in Nineteenth-Century China by Keith McMahon. This is a very good book, which I have read and recommend for a better picture on this topic. I would never have looked into the drug issue if I had not known my grandfather had a drug problem. I read about death from drug overdoses in my local paper every now and then. One that struck me really hard was about a high school dropout's death. He froze to death on his mother's front doorstep. His mother had to be the one to open the door the next morning to find him. She never found out who dropped off his son home and never checked if he made it home. My heart still bleeds when I am thinking about this poor mother. Another girl who was about 20 years old used to transfer the calls to me; she had such a sweet voice. One day, the president of our company told us that she died on the weekend in her friend's house from a drug overdose. I went to the wake and could not believe that she was gone. She looked like the sleeping beauty from the story and I was imagining trying to wake her up while kneeling in front of her casket. I could not imagine how her parents could ever get over this.
This book brings me back to the Opium time -- I could actually picture my grandfather in the picture of how opium took everything away from him and how he and his family struggled to pull him away from the drug. Many states in the US want to legalize marijuana use on top of prescription and non-prescription drug abuse. In my city, we have four drug stores open 24/7 and two grocery stores, which of course, sell legal drugs too.
In China, the Maoist revolution ended drug addiction QUICKLY. Mao's revolutionary armies defeated the oppressors' armies in 1949. THREE YEARS LATER, in 1952, there were no more addicts, no more pushers, no more opium poppies grown, and no more drugs smuggled in. In only three short years China went from 70 million drug addicts to none.
My generation did not have drug or gambling addiction. China's population grew from a little over 500 million to 1.4 billion today.
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