September 17, 2013

Is Heroin The New ‘It’ Drug?

I never thought I would personally know a heroin user. It has such a junky stigma attached to it, that I was incredulous to the fact that anyone I know might be using it. But in just the past year, I’ve heard of numerous friends—or friends of friends—who have gotten into heroin. And unfortunately, this seems representative of a broader trend among 20-somethings.

In 2012, New York Magazine published an article about heroin being cheaper in New York City than in Long island. It dubbed the Long Island Expressway “heroin highway,” because it’s apparently where people started buying heroin as a cheaper alternative to buying it on actual Long Island.

Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Then, only two months ago, Cory Monteith died of an accidental heroin overdose and the world finally seemed ready to accept the new face of heroin. Because according to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the new face of heroin is “a white male in his 30s.”

Heroin is no longer a drug cordoned off for the poor, street-living night-dwellers. According to an NBC News article on Cory Monteith’s death, “The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), documented an alarming 80 percent increase in first use of heroin among teens in 2002.” An emergency room physician and director of toxicology at the University of California San Diego Medical Center told NBC News, “The stereotypical user on the street? That’s the past as far as heroin use in the U.S. is concerned. Lots of people are using it these days – kids, teenagers, white-collar workers.”

And so, while lamentable, it should really come as little surprise that Sky Ferreira has found herself deep in drug problems, most likely including heroin. Ferreira, whose aesthetic is an attempt at reviving the heroin chic look—if sometimes a little too overboard on the heroin aspect—was arrested with her boyfriend, Saint Laurent model and DIIV frontman Zachary Cole Smith during the early hours of this past Saturday morning.

While Ferreira was only arrested on possession of ecstasy and resisting arrest, Smith was arrested on much more, including a plastic bag containing 42 decks of heroin, one count of possession of stolen property, one count of aggravated assault, and violations of an unregistered motor vehicle.

Driving around upstate New York together—apparently near Saugerties, New York—with such incriminating evidence, one can only suspect that her boyfriend took the blame for the both of them.

The recent rise in heroin use isn’t a coincidence, for it coincides with some other crucial changes. For one, where heroin used to only be made in Far East and Southeast Asia, it’s now being made much closer to the U.S.—in South America and Mexico. Also, cops have recently come down hard on prescription painkillers, leaving people desperate and with no choice but to resort to heroin. Eliza Wheeler, project manager for overdose prevention and treatment with the Harm Reduction Coalition told NBC News, “For the folks dependent on prescription pills, the logical thing is to switch to heroin.”

Yes, heroin use dropped during the 1980s and 1990s after the AIDS epidemic instilled fear in people of contracting HIV intravenously, but since then people have found alternative ways to use heroin. Now heroin can be snorted or smoked, which, aside for quelling users’ anxieties about using needles, makes the drug, in general, seem less taboo.

The evidence is blatant, as is the rise in heroin use. And just as Cory was a role model for teens everywhere, Sky is looked up to by many 20-somethings living in Brooklyn or downtown NYC. Only a couple days ago, she walked the Marc Jacobs show (clip below), where the models’ hair and makeup was styled to make them look “sickly.”

And so it’s hard to put all of the blame on Sky for her arrest. It seems everyone around her is egging her on—if not to do heroin, than to maintain her heroin chic image.

Sky and her boyfriend were taken to Ulster County Jail, released on $1,500 bail, and then performed together the following night at one of DIIV’s shows (video clip below). That’ll certainly teach them! TC mark