Heroin: The Velvet Underground Track.
Above Photo: Mexican smugglers perhaps lead authorities to smell a rat by smuggling heroin in “coke” cans.
I recently read an interesting article about the upsurge of heroin use in the USA (see link at the end of this article). Last year 700,000 people had used the drug in the US, a number increasing every year, whereas in Europe the number of users is declining.
The article placed some of the blame on previous abuse of prescription painkillers, which doctors are now cracking down on, meaning some former prescription-pill addicts have turned to heroin for a similar but cheaper fix.
The other reason is that the supply of heroin has increased. America gets most of its heroin from Mexico, where the amount of land being used to grow opium poppies (from which heroin is derived) increased tenfold between 2000 and 2009. More heroin is making its way to the United States, feeding the growing demand and keeping prices low.
Heroin traffickers are also responding to market forces. Americans are consuming less cocaine than they used to, and the cannabis they buy is increasingly home-grown: nearly half the United States now allow medical marijuana, and four have voted to legalise it outright, making it difficult for Mexican exporters to find a market.
Struggling to sell cocaine and cannabis, they have homed in on heroin. The rise in consumption is therefore down to the coincidence of rising supply at a time of rising demand.
This interesting article reminded me of the Velvet underground track, Heroin, which was included on on the Velvets’ 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Written by Lou Reed, the song deals with heroin use and abuse.
Some critics at the time objected to the band glorifying the use of drugs, although Reed and his band members denied that the song was advocating use of the drug. Lou Reed said his lyrics were more meant to focus on providing an objective description of the topic without taking a moral stance on the use of drugs.
Amazingly, The Velvet Underground & Nico was a critical and commercial failure on its release, but it is a superb album and one of my favourites, helping guide me towards Punk in the 1970s, as described in the pages of my Punk and New Wave memoir, Bombed Out!
Unsurprisingly, the album has endured to be one of the most influential and critically acclaimed albums in “rock” music history.
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php
I’ve added a You Tube link to Heroin below. I’ve also added another favourite of mine off that album – Sunday Morning.
Read the full Heroin article on the Economist’s Blog: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/11/economist-explains-19?fsrc=gp_en&google_editors_picks=true