Drug Addiction – Different Now Than in the 60’s & 70’s?

November 24, 2014 / by armstrong

Readers are often shocked by the description of drug abuse and addiction in White Sugar, Brown Sugar.  It does not surprise me at all that this kind of activity is foreign to most. I wrote the book in order to relate things that I feel are important to people who haven’t experienced it directly.

Many families have someone who has suffered from drug abuse, addiction and alcoholism.  And they thank me for showing things that a non-addict or non-alcoholic would not realize.

I have met many young people in recent years that are suffering from exactly the same drugs and in exactly the same way that I described in W.S.B.S.  Just as the topic is foreign to people of my age, it is probably also foreign to most young people.  But the problem persists, in almost the same way as we experienced in the 60s and 70s.

The Economist has posted an article titled, “The Great American Relapse – An Old Sickness has Returned to Haunt a New Generation.” which covers this exact issue.


In the article, the writer distinguishes the kind of people that one would normally think of as a heroin addict, and shows that addiction can afflict anyone, even innocent-looking, people from various social classes. Regarding the title of the article, I would say, the “old sickness” is not really returning. It never left.

This is the beginning of the article from the Economist (and other publications):

“The Great American Relapse – An old sickness has returned to haunt a new generation

Nov 22nd 2014 | DENVER

PICTURE a heroin addict. “A bum sitting under a bridge with a needle in his arm, robbing houses to feed his addiction,” is what many people might imagine, believes Cynthia Scudo. That image may have been halfway accurate when heroin first ravaged America’s inner cities in the 1960s and 1970s. But Ms Scudo, a smartly dressed young grandmother from a middle-class Denver suburb, knows that these days it is not always like that. Until not so long ago, she was a heroin addict herself.

The face of heroin use in America has changed utterly. Forty or fifty years ago heroin addicts were overwhelmingly male, disproportionately black, and very young (the average age of first use was 16). Most came from poor inner-city neighbourhoods. These days, the average user looks more like Ms Scudo. More than half are women, and 90% are white. The drug has crept into the suburbs and the middle classes. And although users are still mainly young, the age of initiation has risen: most first-timers are in their mid-20s, according to a study led by Theodore Cicero of

The spread of heroin to a new market of relatively affluent, suburban whites has allowed the drug to make a comeback, after decades of decline. Over the past six years the number of annual users has almost doubled, from 370,000 in 2007 to 680,000 in 2013….”


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