I’m old enough to be your Mother. I can say that about myself, you can’t. So I see life from an older (and hopefully wiser) perspective than almost everyone reading this. I’m also very open-minded, certainly more than most people.
When I was in high school, I tried almost every drug imaginable (at the time–in the late 70s… told ya I could be your Mom). It was never peer pressure, it was a combination of boredom, curiosity, and the need to escape an environment in which I was not happy.
I listened to rock music back then (this was right before the emergence of rap music), and it was both accepted and understood that the music went hand in hand with drug use, for the artists and the fans. Steely Dan were heroin addicts. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones–these guys were notorious for drug use. Songs like “Sex, Drugs, and Rock N Roll” weren’t just songs, they were a mantra, a way of life; slogans on t-shirts that we wore with pride.
Drug use was prevalent: smoking weed, cocaine, acid (LSD), Chrystal Meth (crank), quaaludes, percocet, triple tuinal, codeine, mushrooms, heroin, opium, speed, etc. Hell, Quaaludes were so popularly abused and bootlegged that the company that made them, Rorer, had to stop making them and a new company took over production (Lemmon). I remember wearing a popular t-shirt with the giant picture of a Rorer 714 Quaalude on it after Lemmon started producing quaaludes (714 is still my favorite number three decades later). That’s how large a part of pop culture drugs were–there were t-shirt lines made as odes to drugs. It felt like EVERYONE did some drug or another. I was 16 years old at the time. So I really do understand drug culture and it’s popularity.
On the personal side, I stopped doing drugs the following year because I started hanging out with some older people on the corner and realized that they were squandering their lives centered around “getting high.” I did not want to be in my 20s or 30s hanging on that corner getting high, so I got my act together super quick and turned my life around. Talk about being scared straight…I was! I have barely had a beer since then.
All this to say that I’m not against drugs because I don’t understand the culture or popularity of drugs, hell, I was right there in it when I was young. I’m against drugs because they destroy human potential, ambition, and dreams. And the addiction to them takes the human destruction even further. Drugs create living casualties, and sometimes even dead ones. They destroy lives.
Many of my rock heroes died thanks to drugs (Jimi Hendrix, John Bonham from Led Zeppelin, Jim Morrison from The Doors, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon from The Who, etc). Fast forward to the 90s and 2000s: Pimp C, DJ Screw, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, etc. My point is that nothing has changed. Artists seem to enjoy getting high. Then and now. Without even looking at death as an outcome, how many people in your own life have messed up their lives with drugs?
Drugs have been prevalent in rap music and the hip hop community for my whole career. Almost everyone I know smokes blunts (except me and my hubby). Many careers were built from the proceeds of drug sales, and while I refuse to take drug money in the music industry, it surrounded me constantly: d boys who invested into the music business. Careers were continually built off the successful sale of weed, crack, coke, heroin, syrup, pills, etc.
I’ve even worked with rappers who had terrible addictions to syrup, OxyContin, Roxie’s, weed, cocaine, liquor, etc. Many artists would miss shows, opportunities, and money because they were too high, preferred getting high, or were experiencing the after effects of being high. I remember when David Banner lived with me in New York City, he would go to the clubs to promote and come home shocked at the amount of drug use in the hip hop community–and it’s hard to shock Banner!
I guess what I’m saying is that drug use in music is not getting worse, it’s always been bad. There’s something within some artists that attracts drugs and addictions. I see it in every genre of music: rap, rock, country, dance, etc. That doesn’t make it right, it just makes it reality.
Every time we lose someone to drugs, or ALMOST lose someone to drugs, I go ballistic and rail against drug use. I’m reminded of a friend who once told me that drugs aren’t the problem, they are the symptom of the problem. So, until we solve the problem, people will use drugs to escape. The War On Drugs is a dismal failure that has destroyed families and whole communities. So drugs transcend far beyond the realm of just the person who takes them, it affects a whole host of surrounding people and industries–families, jobs, lifestyles, communities, laws, etc.
I doubt we will solve this problem anytime soon, but I agree with A-Trak that we need to open the lines of communication (see article below by Atrak from Huffington Post). We also need to change the draconian drug laws that exist–they aren’t working to resolve the problems, they are just creating new ones and making drug problems worse. Like I said early on in this article, nothing has changed that I can see in 35 years except the names and types of drugs available. Drugs have always been, and always will seem “cool” to most young people because they are anti-establishment and great tools for escaping (escaping boredom, escaping stress, escaping unhappiness, escaping self-doubt, etc). Abusing drugs is problematic in youth culture, pathetic in adulthood, and detrimental to our health as we age. Rappers and musicians won’t stop singing the praises of illicit drugs anytime soon, and the pharmaceutical lobby is all-powerful within our government, so illicit drugs aren’t going anywhere. What drug should society take to fix THAT?!