Derived from the unripe seed of the poppy, opium is commonly used as a narcotics and in analgesics. See the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World for a short discussion of the use and trade of opium in human history.
In our very own special collections library (Burns), you'll find a selection of material on your topic. Consider visiting the library and seeing history in your hands. To do so, you should start by searching for material through BC Libraries' catalog and then ordering it (if you haven't registered, you'll be prompted). For a guide on the process, check out the "Finding Burns Material" page. You might also check out the following recommendations: