"Heroin is the opiate of the masses."
-- William Gibson (in All Tomorrow's Parties)
Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt
I don't have any great length of experience with opiates, but from what I've experienced I can see why they're so addictive. As a class, they represent a more or less complete biological short-circut: nature designed us to do things in order to taste our own sweet endorphins, and the introduction of opiates (which mimic said endorphins) lets you opt out of that Darwinistic game. You don't have to accomplish anything more substantial than scoring to get your biological satisfaction.
I've used this drug in two forms: as a tea and in smoked form. They're quite different. I think the tea is a little better. Smoking opium is really a lateral move on the high pyramid compared to smoking pot, except that you decrease mental activity instead of increasing it. It's relaxing and fun, but it's a non-event, really. I mean, it's a pain-killer for crying out loud.
We got the idea for opium tea in high school reading an article in Harper's about how to make it. It's really easy. Contrary to popular belief, all poppy flowers contain a significant amount of opiates. To make an opium tea, you need to pick the bulbs from some neighborhood poppies after they're done blooming and they're all dried out. Pick up a bunch of them, shake out the seeds and then grind 'em up in a coffee grinder. Then throw them into some hot water. Add a peppermint tea bag and some honey to make the flavor better, sip, sit back and enjoy.
This can really become a hard-core way of self-medicating, so be careful. I only drank it a few times and then put it away. It's a nice, pleasent experience. You become very relaxed and at ease, but you're not really knocked out the way you are if you smoke opium. It's a great mild pain killer (i.e. minor headaches, sore muscles, etc) and an excelent conversation lubricant in this low-dose form, plus it makes you kind of bold and horny. I imagine it would be a good party beverage if you had the right people: puts you into a good mood far more reliably than alcohol.
In the end, be wary of the habit-forming nature of this drug. It has a very high potential to become a surrogate for actual life experience. And that's just a shame.