Teen Challenge Letter
I am writing to you in regards to your web page From a Heroin Addict to a Respectable Citizen. This letter is part of the Heroin helper mission to improve the lives of heroin users. An important part of accomplishing our mission is to educate the population as a whole about heroin; to replace myths with accurate, objective information; to transform hysteria into rational discourse. I hope that you will give our comments serious consideration and make the changes suggested.
Below is a list of statements made on your webpage, why we think they should be changed, and how they should be changed.
The title itself ("From a Heroin Addict to a Respectable Citizen)
is offensive. It implies that a heroin addict cannot be, by definition,
a respectable citizen. We could certainly spend days discussing what
exactly makes up a respectable citizen. I doubt we could say that a
respectable citizen must be one who never breaks the governmental laws,
because it is almost impossible to not break the law in the United States
given the enormous number of laws we now live under.
I think we could agree that a respectable citizen should not hurt anyone. Many heroin addicts qualify in this way, at least. Many (perhaps most) support their drug habits entirely through legal means. They thus break the law only in that they use a drug that is prohibited by the government.
I do not mean to imply that following the governmental laws makes one a respectable citizen. Instead, I want to show that there is no reason to say that a heroin addict is disrespectable, by definition.
The article states that Phil's experimenting with drugs led to a 23-year
addiction to heroin. I question this statement, but before I discuss
that I question the use of it. The statement only serves to
vilify heroin and reinforce in the mind of the reader, that heroin
is the ultimate (hardest) drug; this is a bad idea to reinforce given
that it is wrong. Also, it blurs our recognition that our legal drugs
are amongst the most damaging drugs available in physical, psychological,
and sociological terms.
I suspect that Phil was addicted to drugs other than heroin during this 23 year period. In particular, I suspect that he was addicted to alcohol--a far worse drug to be addicted to--according to DEA statistics. Also, it is questionable that Phil managed to stay addicted to heroin for 23 years without interruption.
I cannot say how this paragraph should be corrected, because I do not know Phil's complete story. What I would like to see, however, is exactly how, during this 23 year period, Phil lived an immoral life. What we are given instead is, "Phil lived an immoral life; and as proof, just note that he was addicted to heroin." This is an insult to all heroin addicts who are trying to live the best lives they can.
The article takes it as given that addiction to heroin is bad in
God's eyes. I can see how heroin addiction could distance one from
God; I can even see how the life that a heroin addict might lead
would be an affront to God; but I do not see how heroin addiction
in and of itself is something of which God holds much of an opinion.
Even though opium (heroin is derived from opium) use was common during the centuries in which both testaments of the bible were written, there is no mention made of the ill effects of opium; certainly, no opium prohibition is found in the bible. It was not until around 1300 that Christian Churches in Europe made opium a taboo. And it is not because of the effects of opium that it became a taboo. Rather, it is its link to Eastern cultures which were considered influenced by the Devil.
Heroin does not turn those who use it into monsters. I believe it is possible for a person to be good and still use heroin. You may disagree and I may be wrong. But certainly, it is an issue to be discussed, not simply taken as fact.
- Alcohol is a drug. Using the phrase, "drugs and alcohol" implies that it is not. Just because a society makes one drug legally available does not suddenly take it out of the scientific category "drugs". Let us not forget that for a number of years in the 1920s, heroin was legal and alcohol was not.
If you care about helping people (and you seem to), please make the changes I have suggested. When heroin users are dismissed as evil things, they are further marginalized and thus placed further from leading the best lives possible.
Heroin helper, Managing Editor