Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Holmes

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 02 May 2002

Someone said:

> >As regards Holmes, didn't one of the stories end with the line: "And
I have
> >my cocaine."?

Marianne replied:

> In 19th century Britain, what are nowadays hard and illegal drugs were
> acceptable medicines. They were NOT illegal. Queen Victoria was
> prescribed laudanum, which contains cocaine. Cocaine is a
> when Holmes took refuge in cocaine, it was against his pain, probably
> psychological rather than physical, though I'm not entirely sure about
> this point.

Laudanum was a mixture of alcohol and opium. The opiates (incl. morphine, heroin, codeine and methodone) are pain killers. Cocaine is a stimulant which can also be used as a local anaesthetic and was used in this manner particularly by dentists until cocaine was replaced by novocaine. I suspect that Holmes would have used coke for the same reason Freud did - he believed that it literally made him smarter, temporarily. Holmes strikes me as being the sort of bloke who would be very interested in an "intelligence drug". At least, that would have been the initial interest. No doubt, like Freud, he found coke to be counterproductive in the long term & a damn hard habit to break. I havn't read the Holmes stories but I was under the impression that, like Freud, Holmes had to take the "cure". Was this actually the case?

Rene (PS - though use of drugs such as laudunum & cocaine for recreational use was socially frowned on the drugs were completely legal
& would not have been cause for ostracism, probably more just gossip, etc, like someone with a gambling or drinking problem today).

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