Well of course heroin is “very agreeable”

Jeez, that’s the point of it after all.

Rock star Damon Albarn has come under fire after describing his past heroin use as “very agreeable and very creative”.

No one would take the stuff if it wasn’t agreeable. But of course we get the wowsers:

Mark Dempster, who is one of the country’s most respected addiction experts and runs a Harley Street drug counselling clinic, said it was very irresponsible for people in the public eye to dismiss the dangers of heroin.

He said: “It is really not a good idea for a rock star to suggest that heroin can help you be creative.

“In music you get this whole rock and roll thing where it is seen as living on the edge and living for the ultimate hit, but that is a rather naïve view.

“To send out a message that heroin is glamorous is very dangerous because you may have young people who are already smoking cannabis and this simply helps make the leap between the two that much easier.

“There maybe people who are able to take heroin recreationally for a short period of time, but the reality is that for most people, it does not take very long at all for you to become physically addicted.

Crippled JC on a pogo stick: no one ever becomes physically addicted to heroin. Psychologically addicted to it, yes, sure, but not physically. And the vast majority who use heroin at one time or another don’t even become that. Finally, near all the harms that do come from use come from the fact that the stuff’s illegal. Those who get hold of the pharmaceutically pure stuff (and there’s always a few in the medical system who do) have no particular problem in keeping themselves and their careers going for decades.

But that this is one of the country’s leading “drug counsellors” spouting this nonsense shows how absurd the ground over which this is debated is.

10 thoughts on “Well of course heroin is “very agreeable””

  1. Cannabis is not physically addictive but may be psychologically.
    When the body has adapted to regular heroin intake, sudden withdrawal is deeply unpleasant with nausea and diarhoea, sleeplessness, cold sweats, tachycardia, panic as the autonomic nervous system does overdrive.
    Embarassing, Timmy, in the age of google.
    However the best day of my life was on a heroin analogue while seriously ill.

  2. The odd thing is that this is a bloke basically talking himself out of work. Though I suppose I hadn’t heard of Mark Dempster before now, so there’s that.

    Heroin is mildly physically addictive – withdrawal is an unpleasant reality, it’s just nothing like as bad as the withdrawal of popular fiction see Trainspotting etc.

    Various studies have shown it to be about on a par with a dose of the flu. Hardly worth worrying about.

    How many US soldiers came home from Vietnam as bagheads and how many remained bagheads a year later? And how did those who stopped (the majority) do so? Clue: Mark Webster wasn’t involved.

    The real problem with heroin is that it’s very pleasant to take and people with not much cash and not much else to do will break into your house or mug you for your iPhone to get the readies to do it.

    We could solve this problem almost overnight, but we already know that.

  3. Sure there’s withdrawal. Just as there is with booze: that can kill a determined drinker in fact. But this isn’t the same as stating physical addiction, a never-ending physical longing for the drug.

  4. But is ‘physical addiction’ actually defined as ‘a never-ending physical longing for the drug’?

    I’m pretty sure everyone knows you can get off anything eventually – by your definition, nothing would ever be addictive as nothing is ever never-ending.

    (Your definition sounds more psychological than physical, just that you’ve inserted the word ‘physical’.)

    But I think we basically agree – heroin addiction is trivial compared to alcohol, sudden withdrawl from which can quite easily kill you.

  5. My point being that the withdrawal symptoms – which definitely exist, I’ve had them, albeit from pharmaceutical morphine – prove the physical addiction.

    (I stopped suffering from them fairly quickly, but if a bloke in the pub offered me some diamorphine I might be tempted. Turn on Spiritualized Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space and just drift away. Bliss. Anyway, where was I?)

  6. Having toyed with various drugs in earlier years and spent a great deal of time around drug users, I’d say trying to be cut and dried about addiction is nonsense. Some people can get addicted to chocolate. Others don’t get addicted to anything. And there’s a whole range of reactions between.
    Interested’s quite correct about H. It’s paradise in a bag. It’s also a sure-fire flu remedy and I’ve used it for that once or twice. But it’s like being at a really great party knowing you’ve an early start at work the next morning. Some people get their coat & leave. Others party on to the small hours and struggle through the next day. Some stay on for the next night’s party and lose job home the lot. it’s as important as you want it to be.

  7. Dear Mr Worstall

    Please don’t let that nice Mr Dempster know about food, water or oxygen addiction. They are all very agreeable, in moderation. However the withdrawal effects are deadly.


  8. If we’re discussing addictions, DP, it’s worth mentioning those who’ve an addiction to endorphin & adrenaline highs. The ones visit the gym several times a week or play competitive sports regularly. Just as addictive and the casualties litter the country’s A’nE’s most weekends.

  9. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Opiates wire themselves so profoundly into the reward centres of the brain that they’re practically ideal drugs. They are so rewarding that they can easily turn you into a useless demotivated waste of skin (rather than some creative artiste). The worst part of heroin withdrawal itself is the sudden return of peristalsis* which will almost certainly cause you to shit yourself repeatedly. But it won’t kill you, and it’s not even all that tough if you tail off with methadone or even better suboxone. Coke (and especially crack) is a lot harder to quit long-term. Almost all heroin addicts smoke, and most of the ones I know who’ve recovered said nicotine is more addictive.

    * opiates bung you up, big time. Loperamide (immodium) is an opiate that doesn’t get you high but does slow your gut down allowing water to be reabsorbed and curbing diarrhoea.

  10. That article had a glaring omission: which Blur albums were made under the influence? If Albarn’s going to claim heroin’s “creative”, surely, to assess that claim, we need to know what it created.

    Noel Gallagher has blamed cocaine for Oasis’s third album. Which is one of the best arguments against drug use ever made.

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