With its array of colors ranging from white to pink to red to purple to blue, the poppy is a flower that has graced gardens around the world. Yet the juice from this botanical beauty has sparked wars, created incalculable wealth, and wreaked indescribable suffering upon millions.
The poppy plant, Papaver somniferum, produces opium, a powerful narcotic whose derivatives include morphine, codeine, heroin and oxycodone. The term “narcotic” refers to opium, opium derivatives, and their semi-synthetic substitutes. Narcotics are used therapeutically to treat pain, suppress cough, alleviate diarrhea, and induce anesthesia. However, they are some of the most addictive substances known to man. As drugs of abuse, they are often smoked, sniffed, or injected.