View Full Version : opium pills

01-12-2009, 10:04 AM
does anyone know the aprox size, shape and color of these freely administered pills ? I had thought to use tic tacs
yes i know they were prob dull in color
close or no cigar?

what could i use?
and where oh where can i get licrice root Ive looked all over except in chinatown in nyc----

I've often wondered how hany people became adicted form simply handeling these opiats and involentary ingesting them ?
Accoring to my reading we certianly were a stoned nation right down to the children . I do know that there were aprox 500K adicts post war I'm assuming the number was far far greator

01-12-2009, 11:27 AM
Good repro pills look like whole peppercorns, as found on the spice rack at your local market. You might want to spritz them with diluted anise flavoring.

Are you looking for actual sections of licorice root? If so, I am too. All I can think is to do an online search on the botany forums to see if someone will sell some to you. Otherwise licorice extract flavoring works just as well. You could also try your local wicca shop, which has some obscure plant materials beneficial to a medical impression.

I can't speak for ingesting opiates by handling alone. I doubt pills would do it, especially since opium pills were sometimes coated on the outside to make them taste better going down the hatch. Morphine in powder and liquid form is easily ingested through the skin. It ingests faster through skin breaks, which was why it was used in the first place.

Opium was the abused drug of the Victorian era, but the numbers of addicts from the war is somewhat debateable. If a vet or his widow filed for a pension, they had to demonstrate the vet was not a drug or alcohol addict, otherwise pension denied. And yes, and Army physician could travel to the vet's home and investigate the situation for himself. It's possible low numbers of addicts came from the fact that some vets who were knowingly addicted to opiates made it thorough the pension screening process and were listed as drug-free.

I have an article which claims the addiction numbers are lower, but are touted as higher, to give the US government today an excuse to control opiate production and distribution. The writer has a thinly-concealed anti-DEA agenda, but at least he was kind enough to cite sources.

Morphine as I understand it was not all that common, and/or was expensive to synthesize. Laudanum was easier to acquire over the counter, as it was cheaper and liquid and could be absorbed faster by the body when swallowed.

The mass information was not as prevalent back then as it is now, nor were there regulations to list your ingredients. People did not always know what they were taking in when scarfing that patent remedy, so prolonged use could certainly get them hooked. Several medical manuals, such as The Frugal Nurse advise not to use opiates as they are too strong and not necessary for children. People could, of course ignore warnings or instructions.

Edward Parrish discusses opium addiction and "apothecary shopping" drug diversion in Intro to Practical Pharmacy, pages 157-159. Seems an opiate called "black drop" was the strongest opiate available, and that was what the addicts wanted.

From my research it appears opium dens started with the Chinese on the West Coast in the 1850s but did not become an East Coast problem until the 1870s. Dens which allowed Westerners flourished in the 1880s to 90s and forward.

Still a problem today - thirty million morphine addicts in Iran, all leftovers from the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

01-12-2009, 11:38 AM
does anyone know the aprox size, shape and color of these freely administered pills ? I had thought to use tic tacs
yes i know they were prob dull in color
close or no cigar?

Not close. The coating and uniform oval shape would be unusual for typical wartime pills. One way is to make a flour-and-water dough, form small amounts into pills by rolling them between your fingers, and bake them brown. Noah posted a list of look-alikes for period medicines somewhere on here (edited to add, I see he already beat me with the easier suggestion of peppercorns). :)

Here's one photo I could find in a quick search: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3180/2848330393_fa9ccda89d.jpg?v=0 Though they look like repros, it gives an idea what you're shooting for. Here's an image of antique pills that you can barely glimpse inside their original bottle: http://www.antiquebottles.com/pics/AckersPillsBox.jpg

I'd say we were probably about as medicated of a nation then as now, whether it's Winslow's Soothing Syrup, Ritalin, laudanum or oxycontin.

Interesting question about handling the pills. I doubt those who worked in factories all day wore rubber gloves when handling them as we'd require, and there was certainly documentation of match factory workers getting sick from absorbing the phosphorous in the matches they handled.

Hank Trent

01-12-2009, 12:53 PM
Many medications, period and modern can be absorbed through the skin. Persons working in the factory and handling on a daily basis could easily pick up an affinity for the med or develop a high tolerance for it. Most men's meds for prostate or bladder problems come with a very strident warning againt the handling of the pills OR residue by women because it will do nasty things to the reproductive system. In paramedic school we read accounts of workers dealing with nitroglycerin who would rub it in the sweatbands of their hats so as to avoid the headache when they went back to work the next day. About the only thing skin won't absorb readily is water and blood.

01-13-2009, 12:42 PM
Try cutting tobacco without gloves on a morning with a heavy dew. That is a great way to experience the effects of nicotine without being a smoker. You still hear of several cases of nicotine poisoning in this area from people cutting tobacco every year.

Mark Campbell
Piney Flats, TN

mark britton
01-14-2009, 11:05 PM
As far as simulation of the opium pill goes, I have seen at least two sizes of a tapioca pearl that might be suitable. They are basically round in shape, but have a dull finish to them. The ones in my kitchen currently seem to be about a 3/16" and a 5/16" diameter. There are probably other sizes. They can be colored by spritzing with a small amount of food coloring. I assume they could be flavored in a similar fashion. Would this be a suitable simulation?

Mark Britton

01-15-2009, 07:32 AM
Yes; that works for blue mass and the like. That's what I use for most of my blue mass pills - spritzed with light blue food coloring and anise flavoring,, and while they are still wet roll them in blue baking crystals.

Peppercorns simulate the darker brown, rough surface coating I've seen on original pills at the DEA Museum, which is why I recommended those first.

MAryland Field Hospital
01-31-2009, 09:20 PM
i use these little chocolate balls. they look pretty similar to the ones in the bottle posted and come in many colors. i use white for opium and blue for the mass pills... and they taste good :P


02-01-2009, 11:24 AM
Here's what use.

http://usera.ImageCave.com/thesewingacademy/NoahBriggs/pilae Hydrargri.jpg

02-20-2013, 06:34 PM
I know this thread is several years old, but to whomever is interested, Nuts.com has long sections of licorice root for sale on their website. Just an FYI.

04-27-2013, 10:47 PM
I know this thread is several years old, but to whomever is interested, Nuts.com has long sections of licorice root for sale on their website. Just an FYI.

Sweet! Thanks for the tip!

Now to shop for real copaiba for those gonorrhea treatments. Yum.