In India, the concept of a stay-at-home mom is relatively new, at least in the masses. Two generations back, women had to work in blue collar jobs to support families. In the country, it would mean working in fields and in cities it would mean working in hotel kitchens like my grandmother did who was a single mother.
Most of these women had young kids and there was only one way to make sure kids do not disturb while they were working and that was opium. Though even in those days it was common held belief that opium stuns young children’s growth, it was definitely a better choice than starving. Luckily, my grandmom did not have to go that route as she had the luxury of leaving kids at the house of her brother ( who later adopted my father).
I have heard of a lot of folks from former ruling class who spoiled their lives by drinking. The reality is that consuming liquor is also a relatively new concept, while the history of opium use goes far back. The reason is obvious: Opium does not need a distillery and is produced from a plant that is abundant.
In the western parts of Rajasthan, there is still a tradition of daily opium consumption in the country. This tradition was very prevalent in troops and during war times, the consumption would increase 3-4 fold. This would help troops get rid of inhibition and they would push themselves into thick of enemy forces and get cut like vegetables. This valor which rajputs were famous for was essentially opium induced.
Was it a bad idea? not really. How else would you motivate hundreds of troops in days when there was no sophisticated weaponry?