Last Saturday, April 16, “Saturday Night Live” featured a fake drug commercial for non-drowsy “Heroin AM,” an option for people who want to use heroin and still get things done during the day. In the commercial, SNL guest host and actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus is portrayed as a school bus driver with a young boy and husband. She gets through the day pumped up on heroin. They mention in the commercial that the medicine is also available in gummy bears, along with “Cocaine PM.” Everything was a big joke.
In a Facebook post, officials from the Dodge County Sheriff’s office in Wisconsin responded to the skit Sunday morning: “The lack of sensitivity for the families of those who have lost loved ones to heroin, and those who are fighting the addiction from this deadly drug was shocking. The skit was distasteful, inappropriate, and irresponsible.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Heroin use has increased across the United States among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use; women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.”
As heroin use has increased, so have overdoses. The CDC also reported that between 2002 and 2013, heroin overdose deaths nationwide increased 286 percent. Heroin overdoses nearly doubled between 2011 and 2013, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013. The Drug Enforcement Administration said the amount of heroin crossing the United States border with Mexico increased from 500 kilograms to 2000 kilograms in 2013, making heroin more accessible and less expensive. (For those opposed to Donald Trump’s proposed wall, maybe this last statistic should be considered.)
SNL and some viewers thought this skit was hilarious, but it has also sparked outrage from those who know what it feels like to lose loved ones to heroin overdoses. Some viewed this satirical piece as a good way to point out an enormous problem, and feel those opposing such a skit are way off base. But that’s bull. That’s why we have that oft-used phrase “crossed the line” as ammunition to prove an argument.
SNL’s attempt to make people laugh backfired. Making jokes about drug problems, even if satirical, is unacceptable and unnecessary. Some problems are never funny and should be treated in a serious manner at all times. How would you feel if your son or a daughter, friend or neighbor, died from a heroin overdose? If you knew someone buried before their time.
I hope SNL finds time this Saturday night to apologize, acknowledge their callousness, and refrain from such stupidity in the future.