Neil Young: The Needle and the Damage Done 

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Neil Young and his Experiences with Heroin

Neil Young is a Canadian-American singer who has been active since the early 1960s. Young is known for his story-telling ability through song and his unique folk-rock sound. His lyrics address a multitude of issues, but the album Tonight’s The Night sticks to a specific theme.

Throughout the 1970s, Young witnessed the rise in heroin use among his circle of friends and fellow musicians. He has stated that he drank and smoked marijuana regularly throughout the years, but never experimented with harder drugs. Tonight’s The Night tells the story of Young as he attempted to navigate the music scene as those close to him fell victim to heroin.  

Three years before the release of Tonight’s the Night, Young released his arguably most popular album, Harvest in 1972. The album includes the song The Needle and the Damage Done which addresses heroin use and foreshadows the theme of his subsequent album Tonight’s the Night.  

In the song, he sings “I hit the city and I lost my band. I watched the needle take another man. Gone, gone, the damage done”. Young’s close friend and bandmate Danny Whitten would succumb to a fatal overdose and die later that same year.

A few months after Whitten’s death, Young’s friend and roadie for the band Crazy Horse, Bruce Berry, would meet the same fate. Berry was directly named in Young’s song Tonight’s the Night off of the album by the same name. In the song, Young sings “He used to sleep until the afternoon. If you never heard him sing, I guess you won’t too soon…I picked up the telephone and heard that he’d died out on the mainline”. 

Heroin Today 

Unfortunately, the presence of heroin in the United States has increased significantly since the 1970s.  Heroin is a contributing factor to the current opioid epidemic in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that nearly 841,000 people have died in the past two decades from a drug overdose, with 70% of those fatalities involving an opioid. These alarming numbers have only continued to increase due to the introduction of fentanyl. According to the DEA, One kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people. Fentanyl is often used to “cut” heroin, resulting in a significant spike in overdose fatalities within the last few years. 

Oasis Recovery Can Help 

Heroin use is extremely addictive and oftentimes fatal; therefore, it is extremely important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with this addiction. At Oasis Recovery, treatment specialists utilize a 12-step program and practice holistic rehabilitation. 

Services at the center include: 

Partial Hospitalization Program – At Oasis Recovery,  we offer a partial hospitalization program for clients who need post-residential treatment as well as for clients who need primary treatment but are unable to enroll in inpatient programs. Our PHP track offers a variety of therapeutic services and benefits to individuals in early recovery from substance addiction.

Our day program is full-time, offering all of the clinical hours provided in residential treatment (from 9 am to 5 pm) with the benefit of allowing clients to return home to a structured sober living environment at night. This gives individuals the opportunity to build a community of peers and practice life skills, such as cooking, cleaning, and self-care, while still participating in immersive and intensive clinical addiction and trauma treatment.

Outpatient Rehabilitation – During intensive outpatient treatment, clients live at home or in a sober living residence which can help keep them accountable for their recovery commitment. Our staff coordinates with local, reputable sober living homes to ensure that our clients are living in a safe place and that their needs are being met, even when they are not at clinical sessions.

During this time, clients are also encouraged to become involved in local twelve-step fellowships, to find sponsors, and to begin working the steps of recovery through participation in these groups. IOP is a place where clients can process their experiences in twelve-step fellowships and support one another in those individual journeys.

Addiction is difficult to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with heroin abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call us today to speak with an addiction specialist.


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