The social functions of opium dens were studied by two methods. (1) Repeated visits were made to three opium dens. Data were collected on the physical structure of the den, the owner-proprietor, the customer-participants, the activities, and conversations in the dens. (2) Thirty-five addicts were selected to comprise a representative sample and were interviewed regarding their present locus of opium usage; demographic data were obtained from these addicts.
The article reports on several psychosocial functions that dens serve for certain opium users. The dens seem to serve urban society by providing a milieu within which certain people can meet needs that were served formerly in village society, but which are neglected in urban settings.
Westermeyer J. Opium DensA Social Resource for Addicts in Laos. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(2):237–240. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760140085015