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What Stimulates Sherlock Holmes?
by admin on: October 17th, 2011

Are there any crime novel enthusiests who are not familiar with the adventures of Sherlock Holmes? The exploits of detective who lives at 221B Baker Street are legendary. He is beloved for his observation skills and the method of logical deduction. The man solved mysteries, “shedding light into darkness” as he might say. He is almost inhuman in his perfection.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote extensively on the nature and habits of his detective, describing him in an almost “Holmesian” fashion. We know a lot about the living conditions of the detective, but something that many readers tend to miss is that Sherlock Holmes is an addicted drug user.

Sherlock Holmes makes up for the lack of intellectual stimulation when not on a case, by consuming addictive drugs throughout Doyle’s stories. He uses cocaine on a regular basis. He injects cocaine in a seven percent solution with a syringe that he keeps in a special leather case. Sherlock Holmes also uses morphine occasionally.Both he and Dr. Watson are addicted to tobacco in all forms – pipes, cigars and cigarettes. Holmes even writes a monograph on the identification of several different types of tobacco ash. Interstingly,for all his opium and morphine use, Holmes opposes the use of opium on principle and is never shown using heroin in the original stories.

Yet, how could a man who thought of himself as “the last court of appeals” and an “irregular” of the police force break the law by using illegal drugs? Well, as it turns out, all those drugs were considered legal in 19th century England. While they were subject to legal control in 1917, cocaine, morphine, and heroine were not actually made illegal in the UK until 1971. This does not mean that Holme’s using cocaine was not a character flaw, because it certainly was. However, his fans can be comforted by the fact that he was, at least, not breaking the law.

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