heroin advertisment, 21st January 1989

Of all of the big social ‘issues’ I was aware of back in the 80’s the only two that I really remember affecting me that much were the impending nuclear war with Russia and heroin.

Back in the 80’s heroin was bad. It was worse than bad – it was evil, pernicious and addictive. In fact, it was so addictive that if you so much as wrote the word ‘Heroin’ down you’d start stealing money from your Mum’s purse to buy your next fix and before you knew it you’d be dabbing the brick dust on the floor of the school toilets. But that fear, that mystery, brought with it the sort mystique which made doing heroin kinda sexy as this famous press ad proves. I mean look at that the eyeliner he’s got on…so sad, so fragile, so fucking cool.

I still remember that ad and although I don’t specifically remember this one above, I’m sure there’s a strong collective memory within my generation of this very orchestrated fear campaign. I don’t know what the legacy of these ads is. I’m not a stranger to casual drug use but I’ve never taken heroin, never injected and know very few people that have. Is that an indication of their success or merely proof that I was middle class and scared easily?

These days you Talk to Frank of course, a campaign that has probably indelibly affected today’s teenage generation as deeply as the 80’s heroin campaign did to mine. The difference between now and then being that nowadays teenagers are warned off the full spectrum of drugs and not specifically heroin. Is crack the new heroin? Is meth the new Crack? Is heroin still the same scourge on society as it was 20-30 years ago? Probably, but it feels like it’s just part of the mix now rather that the embodiment of evil it once was.

Remember kids – just say no!

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