Back Heritage » Saigon » [Photos] Inside a 1949 Saigon Opium Detox Clinic

[Photos] Inside a 1949 Saigon Opium Detox Clinic

In 1949, LIFE ran a photo essay depicting life in Saigon. The images featured candid, picturesque snapshots of life during the city's bygone cosmopolitan era. But among the lively slice-of-life photos, there was a surprisingly bleak shot of three opium smokers inside a Saigon detox clinic.

"Opium smokers seek escape on one of the melancholy wood benches of a Saigon 'disintoxification clinic'," the photo's original caption read.

Back then, in Indochina, opium was a high-revenue product of the French government, according to LIFE. More than half the population of Saigon was addicted to the substance, contributing to one-fifth of the French administrative budget at the time.

At detox clinics like the one in the image above, opium was made readily available, albeit in steadily decreasing dosages in order to taper the smoker's addiction.

Take a peek into the somber interior of a Saigon detox clinic from 1949, courtesy of Time, below:

Related Articles:

Old Saigon Picture of the Day: Cho Lon Opium Den

The Story of Saigon’s Opium Refinery

Partner Content