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Essay/Term paper: Drugs

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Alcohol and Drugs

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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 glamour drug that mellowed people out and made them feel
good. Even though one scene did have the female role overdose, many more scenes
showed how cool people were who do heroin. The movie Trainspotting deals with
"Scotland's junky underbelly" and is criticized by many for making heroin use
seem attractive. But, despite criticism this film is one of the most hyped
imports of the year. The acceptance these movies have recieved show that people
are also accepting the rise in heroin use, therefore teenagers will see nothing
wrong with it. Next, fashion designers continue to hire "druggy looking" women
to model their clothes. One designer, Jil Sander, was criticized for showing a
"wasted" looking woman with one sleeve pushed up. The trend in the fashion
industry is to hire skinny women with sunken faces to model their clothes. One
model who recently kicked the habit, Zoe Fleischaur, said "They wanted models
that looked like junkies, the more skinny and f---ed up you look, the more
everybody thinks you're fabulous. One example of a "druggy-looking model" is
Kate Moss who has based her entire career on being skinny and looking wasted.
Young women see these models and want to be like them. This puts a lot of
pressure on young people, especially women, to do heroin in order to fit the
appearance that fashion designers project in their productions.
Third, heroin abuse has increased because baby boomers have a relaxed
view on drugs. Many parents used drugs as teenagers and do not see anything
wrong with their children doing drugs. During the 60's and 70's many teenagers
became caught up in the counter-culture movement led by people like Timothy
Leary. Timothy Leary viewed the use of drugs as a way to expand one's mind.
There are parents who still follow that philosophy with their children. They
believe that expanding one's mind is not wrong therefore doing drugs is not
wrong. Moreover, children see their parent do illegal drugs and think that it
is not wrong. It's been proven that parents are one of the biggest contributors
to a child's value system. "Parents who do drugs have children who do drugs."
reads a major slogan on the war on drugs. Teenagers see their parents values on
certain drugs and contribute those values to harder drugs like heroin. In
addition, parents do not spend enough time telling their children what heroin
and other hard drugs can do to their child's body or future. During the 80's
there was a huge war against drugs. Many parents thought that the government
was doing a good enough job of informing children of the risks about drugs and
let their guard down. Obviously, the government did not do a good enough job of
informing children of the dangers of drugs, recently there have been a number of
studies showing that almost every illegal drug's use among teenagers has risen
dramatically since the early 90's.
In conclusion, the use of heroin has grown because rock stars and actors
have been caught with the drug, because the media glamorizes the use of heroin,
and because some parents have a carefree view of drug usage. Almost everybody
knows at least one person who has at one time done an illegal drug. Anybody can
become hooked on drugs. Today the percentage of teenagers using drugs keeps
rising just as it was in the sixties. Chances are in the future there will be
another strong anti-drug campaign just like the one in the 80's which will
reduce the amount of drug abuse for future generations. When today's teenagers
become parents what will the attitude on drugs be? Will it be more accepting or
less accepting?


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