Drug abuse and addiction are severe, widespread problems that frequently occur around the U.S. and globally. In this country in 2020, drug overdose deaths rose by 30%, led by the use of opioids, including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone.
Unfortunately, while the U.S. is being plagued by an opioid crisis that’s destroying lives and killing individuals from all walks of life, many media outlets continue to romanticize drug use. For example, television shows and movies often depict drug use in much less damaging ways than reality.
The term “heroin chic” came to be common in the mid-1990s in the fashion world. The notion of heroin chic was marked by certain features in top fashion models, including pale skin, undereye circles, and being extraordinarily skinny and somewhat androgynous.
In the years before the heroin chic trend, supermodels were typically physically healthy-looking, such as Cindy Crawford and Elle McPherson. However, the mid-90s heroin chic appearance was a look that managed to push back against the typical supermodel look of the early 1990s.
The heroin chic look was essentially representative of other things going on culturally in the U.S. Heroin had become purer, and it was more commonly used because it was cheaper than it had been in past years. It was also a different time in the drug industry because heroin was no longer exclusively being injected. Instead, it was more and more often being snorted, which reduced some of the past stigma associated with the drug’s use.
Heroin was also being used by the middle class more often, whereas it had been more associated with lower-class populations in previous years. However, it wasn’t just middle-class people making heroin use more widespread—it was also becoming prevalent among wealthy individuals.
Heroin in Music
In the mid-90s, heroin use wasn’t just depicted in fashion. It was also being shown in films such as Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting. In addition, the grunge music scene, which began as a subculture originating in Seattle, Washington, also popularized heroin chic. One of the common themes among many grunge musicians, such as Courtney Love, was heroin use.
Love’s husband Curt Cobain was also a heroin user, and at the time, his nihilistic effect influenced many people in their teens and 20s. He killed himself in 1994 at age 27 via a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was believed to have been on heroin when this event occurred.
Moreover, many of the concepts inspiring the grunge scene were about depression, angst, and self-loathing. The idea of heroin use allowed young people to withdraw and escape from society and reality.
Heroin Chic in Modeling
The fashion world adopted the heroin chic trend in films and pop culture, but it also caused fear and anxiety in much of mainstream America. Among the most famous heroin chic models was Kate Moss, who became known for her almost emaciated and waifish look.
Calvin Klein advertisements were among the most well-known examples of the heroin chic look being applied, and many of the most famous heroin chic models were featured in these campaigns.
In addition to the heroin chic models of the era, other figures were significant in the movement as well. For example, the young fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti, who passed away at the young age of 20, was explicitly known for capturing models with the heroin chic look and purportedly were often literally high on heroin at the time.
Davide was believed to have died of a kidney ailment, possibly caused by a combination of this illness and excessive heroin use, but autopsies were incomplete. When he passed, some would say the idea of heroin chic died along with him. After Sorrenti’s death, a movement began that featured healthier-looking models, such as Gisele Bündchen.
Getting Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Just Believe Detox and Believe Recovery offer individualized, multifaceted programs designed to provide those we treat with the care, education, support, and tools they need to break free from substance abuse and reclaim the fulfilling and happy life they deserve.
Our programs include therapeutic and corrective evidence-based services and activities proven effective at addressing all aspects of addiction and overall mental and physical health. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Peer group support
- Individual/family counseling
- Addiction education
- Relapse prevention
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events