When it was released in March of 1967, The Velvet Underground’s inaugural album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” shocked many of its listeners with its frank depiction of alternative lifestyles, particularly the Lou Reed composition, “Heroin.”
An attempt at a sonic representation of what it feels like to use heroin, the seven-minute-plus journey into the depths of drug use was a jarring harbinger of things to come, as nightly news footage of the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco would soon deteriorate from paisley psychedelia into darker, heavier and more dangerous drugs.
Fifty years later, we as a society are much more educated on the dangers of heroin, but if anything, we seem to be more powerless to stop its spread than ever before. As recently as ten years ago, heroin was seen by many as a drug of the past, a scourge that wore out its welcome and waned into the shadows. Today, I would be hard-pressed to find anyone whose life has not been touched by the drug in one way or another, often within just the past couple of years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people died of drug overdoses in 2014 than ever before.
Last month, an online video quickly went viral, depicting a man overdosing on a public bus in Pennsylvania. It is just the latest in a string of attempts by law enforcement and advocates to raise awareness when it comes to how deadly this drug and the ensuing epidemic has become, along with efforts to increase availability of the opioid-battling drug Narcan.
Closer to home, we need no reminders, as it seems every time the word slips from the headlines and the top stories on the nightly news, another body is found in the Riverbend area. It is a constant reminder that this fight is ongoing.
We have devoted space in this issue of AdVantage News to the subject, attempting to educate our readers on what is going on in our back yards and how they can get involved. If you know someone in the throes of addiction, drug, alcohol or otherwise, please take a few minutes to check out our special section and note the websites and phone numbers dedicated to helping those in need.