Phil Pierce

Drugs have been around for hundreds of years. Indians were known to
have used Opium and other drugs for medical and various other purposes. During
the 7th Century A.D. in China a drug emerged called Opium. Opium, the dry juice
from immature seed pods of the opium poppy plant, is a narcotic drug that is
very powerful in the relief of pain but is also very addictive. At the beginning
Opium was like any other drug, but then people unaware of the harm it could
cause began to use it more and more often. During the 19th century in China
there was a period called the Opium Wars where the use of Opium had become such
a problem the government tried to prohibit it. But by then no one could stop its
growth. In 1803 the compound responsible for the painkilling effect was found
and called Morphine. This discovery brought even more use of Opium. Finally in
1898 a chemist discovered diacetylmorphine or Heroin. Heroin was at first
considered a safer, stronger but less addictive pain killer and was used by
doctors everywhere. However doctors soon found out that it was more dangerous
and even more addictive. During the 70\'s heroin reemerged as a powerful drug
but many were afraid to use it. Throughout the 80\'s strong anti-drug campaigns
seemed to be winning the war on drugs. But, in 1996 people have become alert to
the increase in Heroin addiction. Heroin use has doubled every year since 1992.
What caused the use of heroin to increase? The growth of heroin abuse has
increased in the United States because famous musicians and movie stars have
been caught with the drug, because pop culture continues to make heroin seem
glamorous, and because babyboomers have a relaxed view on drugs.
To begin with, the abuse of heroin has increased because famous
musicians and movie stars have been caught with the drug or have been known to
use it. Kurt Cobain, lead singer for Nirvana, openly admitted to abusing the
drug and checked himself into a detox center weeks before his suicide. Kurt
Cobain had chronic stomach problems and was always looking for something to ease
the pain. During an interview with MTV he commented on his stomach pain with,
"The pain in my stomach made me feel like a junky so if I was going to feel like
a junky I might as well become one." Cobain\'s stomach pains made him look, talk,
and feel like a wrecked individual. So he figured that if he was going to appear
that way, he might as well be that way. Young fans of Kurt Cobain see his
attitude on life and try to mimmick it by not caring what they do to their
bodies. Many fans only saw Cobain in the spotlight were he seemed to be above
everyone and everything, Cobain was one of the most successful musicians of the
90\'s and everything he did was seen under a microscope. With his admission to
drugs he brought heroin back out of the underground and into pop culture where
many more kids could see it. Also, Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland
was busted for possession of cocaine and heroin. Scott Weiland was different
than Kurt Cobain. Weiland was not a misunderstood poet who rose from obscurity
with the addiction, he was a clean cut pop-rock star when the drug found him.
However, Weiland like Cobain was a major role model to the children of America.
And as Karen Schoemer wrote in Newseek, "Since kids emulate rock stars, they\'re
liable to emulate their drug use". Likewise, actor Robert Downey Jr. was
arrested twice over the summer for possession of cocaine and heroin. Like
Weiland, Downey Jr. was also a clean cut young man. But, unlike Cobain or
Weiland he was not a musician or artist, he was an actor. This broadened the
awareness of drug abuse. The movie industry brings in a whole other group of
kids who see their favorite actor get caught for possession of heroin and think
if they do heroin they too can be as "cool" or "sophistcated" as movie stars.
Many young people are using heroin because they see their idols use it.
Second, pop culture makes heroin seem glamorous which adds to its use
among young people. Movies like Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting make using
heroin look appealing. The main character in Pulp Fiction was a hitman played
by John Travolta who did heroin at various times throughout the movie.
Writer,Quentin Terantino, did not make heroin addictive or harmful but instead
he made it look like a