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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

What The History Of Opium Teaches Us About The Opioid Epidemic

Left, an opium poppy after the opium-rich latex has been harvested from the flower's capsule. Right, co-authors David Blistein and Dr. John Halpern's new book on the history of opium.
Photo: Laughlin Elkind via Wikimedia Creative Commons
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Cover: Hachette Books, courtesy
Left, an opium poppy after the opium-rich latex has been harvested from the flower's capsule. Right, co-authors David Blistein and Dr. John Halpern's new book on the history of opium.

The opioid crisis claims thousands of lives every year in the United States. Distinctions between oxycontin, heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl are sadly all too common to Vermonters. We're talking with the authors of a new book, Opium: How An Ancient Flower Shaped And Poisoned Our World, about what the history of the drug can tell us about today's addiction and overdose crisis.

Dr. John Halpern, a Massachusetts psychiatrist who worked as the medical director of the Boston Center for Addiction Treatment, joins Vermont writer David Blistein to discuss opium through the ages, its use in modern medicine, the role of opioids in law and public policy and the present opioid epidemic.

Broadcast live on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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