Throughout his life he suffered from severe poverty and a deep addiction to opium. He experiences his greatest 'pains of opium' while consuming huge quantities of the drug. These experiences helped him write "Confessions of an English Opium Eater."
"The Opium which brings him into this new perspective of his own consciousness becomes a brutal cycle, leading him to unutterable pains and fears. The context in which he writes this work informs his claim for the darkness of the city in which De Quincey has lived in his life, his addiction to Opium, and his relationship with his children all contribute and reveal certain qualities within the darkness that he finds in his dreams."
De Quincey is best remembered for promoting a drug-induced blurring of Romantic imagination and a range of philosophical forms. He was a master of the daydream, or reverie.
The significance of De Quincey's artificially induced reveries cannot be denied. Throughout his career, he loved the power of opium to facilitate the power of mind.
The Confessions sparked the imagination and interest of readers at the time. Today, de Quincy's work is viewed as a minor classic by the world at large, and he is something of a father figure among the literati of the drug underground
"de Quincy might be said to have paved the way for the writings of William James on nitrous oxide, Aldous Huxley on mescaline and even the gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson. But de Quincy has nowhere near the stature of Huxley, either as a writer or as a thinker."
De Quincey was not the only writer of his time influenced by opium. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, de Quincey's friend, wrote Kubla Khan while under the influence of opium.
At first de Quincey was delighted by the drug’s effects, but his deficit of dreams prior to using it became difficult to cope with them. The sheer volume and complexity of these dreams became almost unbearable and his mind was invaded by ‘flashback anticipations, sudden recollections and unpredicted twists’
De Quincey was a gothic writer and it effected his thinking. He was worried that he was a projected phantom of his true conscious self.
De Quincey was a fan of "Arabian Nights." He believed Aladdin's magic lamp was a 'lamp of paradise.' He thought it referred to childhood and his sister Elizabeth.