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Judge not the heroin addict

I grew up in a small town in the midwest in the 1970’s. We had pot, booze and occasionally mushrooms – that was it. In the early 80’s coke popped up. Heroin was the stuff of big city ghettos. I didn’t know anyone who used heroin and wouldn’t have known where to find it.

Many of the drugs kids are addicted to these days weren’t around when I was using. OxyContin and Vicodin didn’t really take off until the mid 90’s – when the medical community began using opioids for non-cancer pain management. When I got my wisdom teeth pulled in 1975 the dentist gave my father a prescription for a few Percodans – no refills.

Same for benzodiazepines. Xanax wasn’t  invented until 1981. Klonopin and Ativan weren’t sold in the U.S. until the mid-1970’s but didn’t hit critical mass as illicit drugs until the mid-1980’s. In the mid-90’s fentanyl patches were introduced. The 2000’s saw the fentanyl lollipop, tablets and sublingual spray hit the market.

So, who am I to judge today’s heroin addicts? Would I have experimented with some of these drugs had they been around when I was in my teens and 20’s? Or would they have been surreptitiously added to something else I was using? Probably.

I am an alcoholic with a very addictive personality. I’m not going to sit here all holier-than-thou and look down on today’s heroin addicts.

I wasn’t better or smarter than today’s heroin addicts. The opportunities just weren’t there. I was lucky to be born in a small town in the midwest in 1958. Highly addictive opioids and bentos weren’t available when I first began using drugs and alcohol.

Time was on my side.

Judge not the heroin addict

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2016). Judge not the heroin addict. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 4 Nov 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Nov 2016
Published on All rights reserved.