A drink or drug supposedly once taken to forget sadness or troubles; anything that alleviates pain or which soothers or comforts.
Opium is important and, in one or another of its derivatives and preparations, has been for millenniums. It is mentioned by Homer, who called it nepenthe; it was a major factor in the shaping of 19th- and 20th-century Chinese history; it contributed in its way to the sensualism of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poetry, and, of course, it is an addictive commodity traded by vast networks of criminals.
Richard Bernstein, The New York Times, 29 July 1998, New York Times
reviewing Martin Booth's Opium: A History. Amazon
Having spent the daylight hours canvassing Nepal's capital for an article I was researching, a relaxing evening free of open sewers and wandering cows seemed the perfect nepenthe for an American unaccustomed to the unspeakable squalor the average Nepalese confronts every day of his life.
"Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don't know what your rights are, or who the person is you're talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door" - Jack Handey