The authorities in Gehennum have not yet seen fit to legislate against the production, sale, and use of recreational drugs, so the use of bhang (hemp), coca, and opium is much more widespread than in most countries on Earth. On the other hand, this means that drugs are cheap, so addicts are not financially crippled by their habits, and are not forced to steal. Good quality drugs are readily available, so addicts are rarely subjected to withdrawal syndrome, and do not poison themselves with adulterated drugs. Drug dealers are simple merchants, do not make extraordinary profits, and in any case have no special motive to corrupt politicians, judges, and law-enforcement officers. Drug dealers in Gehennum have no incentive to war over markets, and the economics of hooking people with cheap drugs to create a market are much less attractive than where drugs are illegal and hard to get. As a result, Gehennum has much less of a drug problem than we have. It also helps that pure cocaine and morphine cannot be extracted.

Different drugs have different social statuses. Alcohol is ubiquitous, but beer is considered lower-class, being sold in taverns and made at home by peasants and artisans. Wine is drunk in upper-class homes. Spirits are available in the Decadent Period, but they are considered too strong for women and children.

Bhang is the second-most common recreational drug. Many men sit down for a quiet pipe at the end of the day, and even those who don’t want to get stoned every night will chew a little bhang at a party every now and then. Bhang is burned like incense in many temples, has ritual use, is used therapeutically, and is useful to mantises, and dreamers.

Coca is the drug of peasants, labourers, soldiers, and athletes. Because of the social status of the army and athletics, this makes it a very common drug in all classes, but more often used by men than by women. In some times and places it has high status from its association with the military and makhetes. Coca is used at wild parties organised by young men, especially ephebes who have recently discovered its use. A coca habit picked up in the military may last a life-time.

Opium is not used socially, is not a party drug, and is the drug of which the users and the non-users are most clearly demarcated. Like bhang and coca, opium can be smoked, but it is very bitter in taste, and is not chewed. In the Classical Period and the Decadent Period it is possible to get opium as a tincture, dissolved in a mixture of water and alcohol (laudanum, and it is in this form that many recreational and all therapeutic users get it.

Tobacco is considered very coarse, its use scandalous. It is associated with foreigners, dock-workers, and cheap prostitutes.

Gehennum exports bhang (hemp), coca, and opium, and imports tobacco. Drugs can be bought retail at nearly all inns, taverns, and hetairons.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.