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January 03, 2012

Every illicit drug seems to have its own strange culture and appeal.

The modern cocaine trade is socially linked to cash, flash and ostentatious cars. Marijuana has a certain pseudo-intellectual cache. Ecstasy is the vitamin E of the all-night dance party scene.

And then there's heroin. Part of the family of drugs extracted from the sap of the poppy bulb, it is among the oldest and most potent painkillers. Its cousin, morphine, remains the pain-killer of last resort even in an era when many similarly ancient remedies have been replaced by more easily controlled synthetic compounds.

Of course, the two most notorious aspects of the poppy-derived drugs, members of the opium family, are that they are physically and mentally addictive in the extreme and they are deadly. Even so, just as cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy have found social circles to embrace them, so has heroin. There's even a description for the devil-may-care attitude and sickly demeanor of those who admire the opiate-addicted lifestyle: heroin chic.

All the glamour associated with illicit drug cultures, however, is at best fleeting, as the party scenes and social interactions give way to being cash strapped, and in need of money to buy the next high. And the cost always goes up.

Unfortunately, three young people in Harford County paid the highest price over the holidays for partaking of heroin. They aren't the first to have succumbed to the drug, and undoubtedly there are plenty more young people who have been snared by what probably started out as a simple desire to have a good time.

All too often the people seduced by the allure of heroine, cocaine, ecstasy and other illicit drugs are too young to have seen the damage done to previous generations and too old to pay heed to alarmist warnings from official sources like newspaper editorials.

As a result, it falls to people who are trusted by teens and young adults to take notice of interest in illicit drugs and exert whatever influence they can to dissuade the use of such substances. This request to not do drugs may seem a little on the corny side, but it's the kind of action that has the potential to save a life.

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