Saturday Night Live’s sketch about heroin will most likely disgust you.
In case you missed the skit, here’s a link to it on YouTube: SNL – Heroin AM
The sketch, called “Heroin AM” is described on SNL’s website: “Heroin AM: For people who want to do heroin, but also want to be productive, there’s Heroin AM.”
SNL’s skit was a fake ad for a product that was similarly packaged to over-the-counter drugs like DayQuil or Tylenol AM. The product was aimed towards people who want to use heroin and remain productive.
“That’s why ‘Heroin AM’ combines heroin with five milligrams of caffeine and a small pile of cocaine,” says comedian Kate McKinnon, playing a white, young to middle-age mother sending her kids off to school.
Here are some highlights from the sketch:
A mother with a small child playing next to her says, “I want to use heroin, but I also want to get stuff done. That’s why I reach for Heroin AM – the only non-drowsy heroin on the market, so I can get jacked on scag and then get back to work.”
The mother continues, “And now available in gummy bears! Which you can melt down and inject!”
A kids-league soccer referee says, “When I called a time out to inject black tar heroin, there was almost a stigma about it. But with Heroin AM, I’m almost more alert than if I weren’t on heroin!”
A school bus driver says, “I went from nodding off, to nodding YES to more heroin!”
But the most accurate line of the entire skit? A chart with the rising use of heroin in the United States. “Heroin use in America is steadily on the rise.”
Was the “Heroin AM” skit tasteless? Yes.
Was the “Heroin AM” skit offensive to many families? Yes.
Did the “Heroin AM” skit cross the line? Maybe not.
You see, Saturday Night Live is known for making satires out of very serious – often tragic events. They’ve made light of ISIS, police brutality, racism, and domestic violence. The heroin and prescription drug addiction epidemic certainly falls into similar categories: Sensitive, devastating and deadly.
People are dying from prescription opioids and heroin every single day. In fact, reported deaths from heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013 – with nearly 30,000 overdose deaths reporter in 2014. Those statistics are only part of the story – because many, many more people are addicted to heroin and prescription drugs, but are still living.
SNL’s satire may seem to mock the tragedy, but it also mimics the reality: Heroin addiction is affecting people from all backgrounds, including suburban mothers, school bus drivers, and mini-van driving, youth-league soccer coaches. Heroin isn’t just in the hands of people on the street, or low-income areas – as so often portrayed in TV shows and movies. Heroin in everywhere. And people are dying from heroin overdoses everywhere.
There is nothing funny about heroin addiction, and nothing funny about the millions of people and families affected by the drug. But you know what? If Saturday Night Live is talking about it, it means that it’s a big, tragic deal that needs to be discussed and addressed. The skit may outrage and insult you – but use it as a call to action. Use it as an opportunity to educate you family and friends about the drug, the warning signs and dangers. Use it as an opportunity to have a discussion about the misuse of opiate prescription drugs. Talk about treatment and recovery. Use SNL’s skit to open a conversation about the fight against heroin – and take action.