Wicked, Wicked HeroinPosted: February 22, 2014 | |
Addiction is a matter of persistence, not fate
Theodore Dalrymple writes: For five centuries before the Enlightenment, animals were sometimes put on trial in Europe. Pigs were the most frequent defendants, followed by rats, but even insects were not immune. Edward Payson Evans’s classic The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, published in 1906, begins:
It is said that Bartholomew Chessenée, a distinguished French jurist of the sixteenth century (born at Issy-l’Evêque in 1480), made his reputation at the bar as counsel for some rats, which had been put on trial before the ecclesiastical court of Autun on the charge of feloniously having eaten up and wantonly destroyed the barley crop of that province.
But the prosecution of animals was rational compared with an article published on February 11 in the New York Times. At least animals are animate; and my dog had a lively sense of guilt.
“…of course, we are not told, though evidence suggests that the average heroin addict takes heroin intermittently rather than regularly for 18 months before becoming addicted…”
The American “newspaper of record,” however, apparently believes that inanimate substances have wills and even moral purposes of their own. Perhaps one day it will hold an auto-da-fe of the worst-offending substances.
The article, by Deborah Sontag, told the story of a 21-year-old woman, Alysa Ivy, who died in the small town of Hudson, Wisconsin, from using heroin. In recent years, more and more people in America, mostly young and white, have been dying in this way—most recently, the acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Why? According to the Times, the cunning and charm of heroin is to blame.
Heroin “has wormed its way into unsuspecting communities,” wrote Sontag, adding that “statistics [for heroin-related deaths] lag behind heroin’s resurgence.” Wicked, wicked heroin! All the worse because, though bad morally, such drugs are also charming, a little like Svengali. Alysa “was seduced by the potent painkiller” OxyContin before she “moved on” to heroin. Soon she was “in the grip of something beyond her control.” How soon, of course, we are not told, though evidence suggests that the average heroin addict takes heroin intermittently rather than regularly for 18 months before becoming addicted. In other words, becoming a heroin addict is, for most, a matter of persistence and determination rather than of raw, unadulterated fate.
Alysa’s addiction, like Frankenstein’s monster, broke free of its creator and wreaked its revenge: “Her addiction . . . killed her.” Alas, unlike the monster, heroin felt no remorse…
Theodore Dalrymple, a retired physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal, the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of many books, including Our Culture, What’s Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses.
- The Culture of Heroin Addiction (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- New York Times chronicles Wisconsin’s small town heroin scourge (jsonline.com)
- Forum in Mass. held to combat heroin spike (washingtontimes.com)
- Heroin goes mainstream (inmyanguish.wordpress.com)
- Taunton Leaders Held Forum To Combat Heroin Spike (wbur.org)
- Heroin’s Small-Town Toll, and a Mother’s Grief (drugpolicydebateradar.wordpress.com)
- Doper Alert (junkscience.com)
- Heroin’s lethal comeback (theweek.com)
- Heroin’s Small-Town Toll, and a Mother’s Grief (nytimes.com)