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"Throughout history, humans have always been fascinated by drugs and altered states. Despite the risk of addiction, many have used drugs as technologies to induce moments of meaning-making transcendence. This book traces the quest for transcendence and meaning through drugs in the modern West. Starting with the Romantic fascination with opium, it goes on to chronicle the discovery of anesthetics, psychiatric and religious interest in hashish, the bewitching power of mescaline and hallucinogenic fungi, as well as the more recent uses of LSD. It fills a major gap in our understanding of contemporary alternative and in the study of countercultures and popular culture. Today we are seeing increased social and scientific attention to both the positive and the negative effects of psychoactive drugs, particularly following the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use in some US states, as well as court cases involving the sacramental use of drugs. This fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of the controversial relationship between drugs and spirituality could not be more timely." [source : éditeur].