carry a Chinaman on (one's) back

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carry a Chinaman on (one's) back

To suffer from an addiction to narcotics or the withdrawal symptoms caused by it. A derogatory phrase, it likely refers to opium's classical association with Southeast Asia. Primarily heard in US, South Africa. Carrying that Chinaman on her back has kept Janet out of work for years. I want to get clean and turn my life around, but carrying this Chinaman on my back is absolute torture.
See also: back, carry, Chinaman, on