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The Needle and the Damage Done 2 March, 2008

Posted by paralleldivergence in children, education, Life, Music.

The unexpected demise of famous young people due to “accidental” drug overdoses has dotted modern history. Janis Joplin, John Belushi, River Phoenix, Kurt Cobain, and Heath Ledger all succumbed to an addiction that snatched away their lives when they were in their prime. While crystal-meth, crack and ecstasy are now the most “popular” of illicit drugs, Heroin still remains the pinnacle.


It’s a world that a relatively very few people choose to enter, but the social impact is often massive as relatives bear witness to the demise of someone they love; as neighborhoods endure crime waves and health systems redirect their attention to self-inflicted victims.  In 1983, a high school student who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote an insightful poem capturing the struggle of heroin addicts.

Take Me in Your Armsby Anonymous 

So now, little man, you’ve grown tired of grass
LSD, goofballs, cocaine and hash,
and someone, pretending to be a true friend,
said, “I’ll introduce you to Miss Heroin.”

Well honey, before you start fooling with me,
just let me inform you of how it will be.

For I will seduce you and make you my slave,
I’ve sent men much stronger than you to their graves.
You think you could never become a disgrace,
and end up addicted to Poppy seed waste.

So you’ll start inhaling me one afternoon,
you’ll take me into your arms very soon.
And once I’ve entered deep down in your veins,
The craving will nearly drive you insane.

You’ll swindle your mother and just for a buck.
You’ll turn into something vile and corrupt.
You’ll mug and you’ll steal for my narcotic charm,
and feel contentment when I’m in your arms.

The day, when you realize the monster you’ve grown,
you’ll solemnly swear to leave me alone.
If you think you’ve got that mystical knack,
then sweetie, just try getting me off your back.

The vomit, the cramps, your gut tied in knots.
The jangling nerves screaming for one more shot.
The hot chills and cold sweats, withdrawal pains,
can only be saved by my little white grains.

There’s no other way, and there’s no need to look,
for deep down inside you know you are hooked.
You’ll desperately run to the pushers and then,
you’ll welcome me back to your arms once again.

And you will return just as I foretold!
I know that you’ll give me your body and soul.
You’ll give up your morals, your conscience, your heart.
And you will be mine until, “Death Do Us Part”

In 1972, Neil Young released his often covered track, “The Needle and the Damage Done“, which chronicles the descent of musicians he knew into heroin addiction. It was written about the heroin use of his Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten.  Danny eventually died from an overdose. The other night I was listening to this track and decided that as a follow on from my last article about Heath Ledger, this brief song needed a music video to help people to better undertand Young’s intentions.

 I hope you liked the poem above and this video. Please leave any comments below.



1. Emily G - 2 March, 2008

The poem and the video are sooo sad! Thank you for sharing both of these. I like how well the images flow in the video, no matter how distressing they are.

So what can we as a society do when people continue to choose to start taking hard, addicting drugs themselves?

2. Karen Halls - 2 March, 2008

I found your site on google blog search and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. Just added your RSS feed to my feed reader. Look forward to reading more from you.

Karen Halls

3. The Needle and the Damage Done | Rehab From Drug - 2 March, 2008

[…] More: continued here […]

4. Mr Cleanster - 2 March, 2008

Why on Earth do people do this to themselves? I swear people who don’t take drugs will never understand those that want to. Is it depression? Is it loneliness? Do they not see the outcomes of all those who became addicted before them?

The start of your video put across an important product. Heroin is a natural product, from the poppy flower. But certainly injecting this natural product into your veins is not a natural event. Which then led me to track down the history of heroin:

“The Bayer Company started the production of heroin in 1898 on a commercial scale. The first clinical results were so promising that heroin was considered a wonder drug. Indeed, heroin was more effective than codeine in respiratory diseases. It has turned out, however, that repeated administration of heroin results in the development of tolerance and the patients become heroin-addicts soon. In the early 1910s morphine addicts “discovered” the euphorising properties of heroin and this effect was enhanced by intravenous administration. Heroin became a narcotic drug and its abuse began to spread quickly.”

I watched a recent movie with Heath Ledger called “Candy”, all about a couple who were heroin addicts. Very sad and often painful to watch.

5. paralleldivergence - 3 March, 2008

Hi Emily. Thanks for your thoughts. It is certainly very sad that humans can do this to themselves. To me it is a very selfish act without any consideration of relatives and friends. Of course, some people are coerced through peer-pressure and difficulties in their lives, but it’s still a pretty bad cop-out.

Karen, welcome. I hope you like the site. It’s all about critical thinking. Seeing things from different points of view. The articles, videos and comics are their to spur on discussion and the comments by visitors are what allows everyone a chance to have their own say.

Mr Cleanster, thanks very much for finding out the history of heroin. I wasn’t aware of it myself. I’ve seen Candy. Very heavy viewing.

6. tobeme - 4 March, 2008

Thank-you for sharing. This should be required viewing and reading for everyone.

7. paralleldivergence - 4 March, 2008

Hi tobeme! Yes I think we all close our eyes too much to the things that go on around us everyday. We’re all one people. Apathy divides.

8. Neal Watzman - 9 March, 2008

That Neil Young video is haunting.

9. marc - 11 March, 2008

thank you Neil for speaking out

10. Byron - 13 March, 2008

Good article and an incredible song, but I have to point out that Kurt Cobain’s death was not an overdose….

11. jeopardygame - 13 March, 2008

Yes, that’s right Byron –

“On April 8th 1994 Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, was found dead in his Seattle home of an apparent shotgun wound to the head and with three times the lethal amount of heroin in his system. A note lay at the scene. The verdict was suicide. Others are skeptical.”

However, I’m sure heroin played a large part in his downfall.

12. John Daniels - 14 March, 2008

I saw this video at the conference today. I showed it to my 14 year old son as soon as I got home.

13. paralleldivergence - 14 March, 2008

Glad you liked the conference. Always tough working a last-day crowd. 🙂 Hope your son learned something from the video.

14. graeme - 20 April, 2008

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet! I’m skeptical about a ‘poem’ where the opening verse concerns a progression from soft drugs to hard drugs. It’s just another mechanism for placing that link in the public’s mind. Why wasn’t booze in that first verse? Afterall, the main problem we have is binge drinking.

Don’t get me wrong, i’m not advocating the abuse of any drugs, but if we are going to be hypocritical then our kids won’t trust us.

Read an excerpt from “The La Guardia Report” here

Dr Lester Grinspoon’s site is also worth a read, especially his own article.


15. paralleldivergence - 21 April, 2008

Thanks for the links Graeme. I agree that alcohol and binge drinking in particular are worse problems for society in terms of the number of “victims”, but in defence of the poem, all of the drugs mentioned are *illegal*. Whilstever alcohol and tobacco are classified as *legal* drugs, there will always be a leniency toward them and an expectation from kids that they can use them safely in later life.

As for cannabis, the only mention in the poem and article is that it could be a stepping stone to harder drugs. That’s a fair enough statement. Most cannabis users wouldn’t break-in to people’s houses or mug people on the street for their next hit.

16. Jerry - 1 July, 2008

I’ve always been pro-legalization of drugs of any sort. A recent experience with a methed up homo freak in a quiet park here in Thailand has maybe prompted a 2nd look at the problem. Those lyrics were amazing… I grabbed your RSS.

17. paralleldivergence - 1 July, 2008

Jerry, realistically, it’s up to each individual what they decide to pump into their own body. I have zero problem with personal choice. The problems arise with the impact that choice has on those around them. The family whose house was robbed while they were at work to feed a drug habit. The relatives of the drug-user who are left to pick up the pieces – regularly. The jogger just trying to go out for a run and not be accosted or mugged by a deranged druggie.

As for the poem and the video above, yes, it’s powerful stuff.

18. rich - 10 January, 2009

they did away with the sound on the video

19. paralleldivergence - 10 January, 2009

Hi Rich, yes, our good friends at YouTube got a demand from “the copyright owners” (aka the evil record company) to remove the audio. The thing is, while my video embellishes the original song and possibly promotes sales for the record company of this track and others in Neil Young’s vast collection, YouTube does nothing against the blatant copyright-ripoffs that have flooded YouTube – the video clips, the live performances etc.

Oh well, I’ve moved it to Vimeo so you can see AND hear it again. 🙂

20. k - 10 September, 2009

The first time I read this poem I was about 15yrs old now 31 But still have that copy of the poem. Title was “Until death do us part” by an anonymous heroin addict who at the time(1972) was in the armed forces.

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