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Did Saturday Night Live’s Heroin Commercial Make you Angry?

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Linda Rosenberg

President and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health

Did Saturday Night Live’s Heroin Commercial Make you Angry?

April 19, 2016 | Addiction | Substance Use | Comments
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America is worried about the wrong thing.

This weekend, Saturday Night Live ran a commercial parody for a fictitious pharmaceutical product, Heroin AM, a product that combines heroin with cocaine and caffeine. The “commercial” depicted three white, middle class, suburban parents using the product to achieve “added productivity” while using heroin.

Americans reacted by sending angry tweets to SNL, with many people and organizations calling for the show to apologize.

What is striking a nerve for so many is that the bit hits close to home. SNL didn’t make the premise behind the epidemic up. PTA moms are doing heroin. Soccer coaches are doing heroin. School bus drivers are doing heroin. People in “middle America” (and many others) are combining opioids with other dangerous drugs.

And the graph they show in the parody is real. Heroin use has climbed dramatically, and that is the real problem we need to be passionately reacting to.

It’s not funny that hundreds of Americans die every day from overdosing on heroin and other opioids. It’s not funny that parents, coaches and bus drivers are addicted to heroin. It’s not funny that most of those middle Americans who are doing heroin have switched to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to get than other opioids – products that are available by prescription yet advertised directly to consumers. Heroin is so pervasive, it’s almost as easy to get as an over-the-counter drug.

And that’s the point. Heroin addiction is national news because it is a national problem. SNL picked up on it and made fun of it. Maybe it’s time we turn our anger away from SNL poking fun of the epidemic and toward the roots of the problem itself. More importantly, let’s focus our energy on the solutions to address this crisis—funding prevention initiatives, bolstering quality treatment and ensuring those in recovery have adequate supports.

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