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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Heroin Begins to Take Over the Hippie Scene *Contains Spoilers*

'He looked at me and said solemnly, “Cindy, Julie’s friend, was found dead in her apartment this morning. They are doing an autopsy on her tomorrow but I think it’s safe to say that she overdosed. I heard about it in the great halls of U.C.L.A. but I didn’t get a chance to talk to Julie before she left. She missed her last class so I guess she heard. She’s probably over at the beach.”
     I felt tears well up in my eyes and they were a surprise to me. No, I hadn’t exactly liked the girl but she had helped us get to California, she had let us stay with her, and she was only a year older than Julie and me. She did not deserve to be just another junkie found dead on her front room floor. “That’s terrible.” I said softly. She was by no means the only young person to suffer such a fate on Venice Beach and I was honestly sick to death with that fucking drug that was ruining so many lives. I decided then that there was only one thing to do. Quickly I got up and went to my room where my type writer sat, inviting me to plead my case to all of the people who read my words.
    I had to approach the subject with care. That much I knew. So many of my readers were probably in to heroin and I didn’t want to turn them off of the paper or the message I had for them. I didn’t want to be too preachy. But I couldn’t sit around and listen to another overdose announcement without knowing I had said something that might get through to someone, even if it was just one person. So I wrote the first article ever to appear in the paper, or any underground paper, against a drug. I didn’t give facts, I gave experiences. Relating to people on a personal level usually did more than spouting out Surgeon’s General style warnings. In the end, when I was satisfied, I put my initials on it and prayed that it wouldn’t hurt the paper because I told the truth.'

When it came to drugs with this book, I knew that Liz's experiences were going to be far more than my own. I have smoked pot. Everything else she did or her friends did in this book, I had to ask people about in order to attempt an accurate description of the high. Because of the scene she was in, her attitude was going to be far more laid back than my own. However, when it came to heroin and its destructive effects, I knew she would draw the line and she would grow to despise the very idea of the drug as it took over the scene and the lives of people she loved. It wasn't just rock stars that ended up victims of this drug. Every day there were people in flop houses that either OD'd or got a hold of bad stuff. It killed many then and today it continues to destroy and end lives. There seems to be a resurgence of the use of this drug that personally frightens me because there are few drugs out there that can destroy as completely as heroin. 

An article about the heroin "epidemic" of the late '60's from
The Heroin Epidemic of the 1960s:

During the 1960s, there were long-standing misconceptions about the potential scope of heroin's appeal were rocked as heroin and other drugs gained popularity among middle-class teens. These teens, many of whom were involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement in America, had grown mistrustful of the establishment and sought to defy its codes of behavior. Author Margaret O. Hyde notes that the reality of heroin abuse forced itself into the American psyche: [Heroin abuse] moved out of the slums and ghettos to infect the sons and daughters of well-to-do citizens of middle-class America. The alarm sounded across the country at that time did not emanate from concern about the long-standing drug abuse problems in racial ghettos, but rather was a result of "dope" reaching white youths in "good" neighborhoods.

Patterns of narcotic use dominant in the well-known drug communities . . . "rippled out" to other communities: Palo Alto, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Phoenix, Arizona; Grenell, Ohio; and Bar Harbor, Maine, are just a few. . . . Shocked, distraught, unbelieving parents who discovered that their son or daughter was a heroin addict demanded government and community response to deal with the crisis.

Investigations revealed that young, teen-age white boys and girls, just like the boys and girls in the slums, rob, steal, and prostitute themselves, or "hustle," on the streets to support drug habits of $25, $50, and even $150 a day. Heroin also became an increasing concern of the U.S. military throughout the Vietnam War as American military personnel stationed in Southeast Asia encountered heroin that was inexpensive, pure, and readily available from the nearby "Golden Triangle." Military officials eventually estimated that one out of every five U.S. soldiers had become addicted to the drug during their tour of duty in Vietnam.

By the decade's end, law enforcement and health officials estimated the number of heroin users in the United States to be in excess of 1 million.

In response to this startling statistic, President Richard M. Nixon declared a war on drugs in a statement to Congress, and urged them to pass a $370 million appropriations bill to fight the heroin epidemic. The bill led to the implementation of federal programs to educate the public, expand treatment opportunities, and strengthen drug traffic control.

Additionally, the military's new Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention instituted mandatory drug testing and required returning Vietnam War veterans who tested positive for the drug to undergo treatment.

In 1973 the number of heroin users finally began to subside and would be fewer than four hundred thousand by the decade's end. Hyde attributes this decline in use to "changing public attitude and increased financial support for education, research, and treatment, as well as a more balanced law enforcement approach toward the control of the distribution and supply of heroin."As heroin use diminished during the 1970s, however, cocaine use caught on with the American middle and upper classes, and its widespread popularity would eventually help widespread heroin use to reemerge. Cocaine use became increasingly accepted in society as a sign of social status and affluence during the 1970s, and media coverage of the drug's use among the rich and famous enhanced its glamorous image and legitimized its use in society. "For many Americans," explains Hyde, "cocaine became the symbol of fast-track living which lasted well into the 1980's. . . . In this period of liberalization, only the social consensus against heroin held firm, largely because . . . its use had long been associated with criminals and social outcasts." With its estimated 2.2 million users by the late 1980s, however, cocaine use also escalated to epidemic levels. Connotations of status began to fade as cocaine addiction wrought increasing havoc in the lives of users across the American socioeconomic spectrum—but particularly among crack cocaine users in the inner city. By the early 1990s, cocaine lost its standing as the nation's drug of choice, and the number of users significantly declined.

A Heroin Propaganda Video from 1969:

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