The Basketball Diaries

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Lizzie Janes
Drugs and Behavior

Within Hollywood’s movies depiction of drug addiction, many have failed to represent all true aspects that come along with such lifestyles. The movie, The Basketball Diaries, is based off a novel Jim Carroll wrote from his own diary entries. As a teenager growing up in the sixties, Carroll reveals his progression of drug abuse which eventually leads him addicted to heroin.Heroin is a white powder derived from morphine found in opium. It is commonly prescribed as a painkiller, but is also a popular street drug.The director casted Leonardo DiCaprio as Jimmy, and concentrates on creating the character as a stereotypical drug abuser. DiCaprio’s most captivating scene is when he is going through heroin withdrawals. The viewer also get an accurate depiction of heroin when Jimmy is describing his first time using heroin.Overall the movie is probably one of the best at revealing the realities of drug abuse by not glamorizing it but by showing the downward spiral it can cause on ones life. By analyzing Jimmy’s first time using and eventual dependence of heroin it is easy to see there are realistic and unrealistic scenes to The Basketball Diaries.

The movie follows Jim Carroll through his progression of drug use and the circumstances that led to him to finally become sober. At the beginning, Jim has many friends, attends a Catholic School, and is a star on his basketball team. Even with such protective factors in play, Jim finds himself and friends taking drugs and participating in risky behavior. He starts off huffing, moves to snorting cocaine, takes barbiturates, and eventually become heavily addicted to heroin. His addiction slowly takes over his life, as he stops playing basketball, drops out of school, and get kicks out of his house. After going through an intense withdrawal, he still abuses drugs and does not become sober until after getting arrested. In the end Jim is seen talking to others about his addiction, in hopes to prevent others from following his tracks.

As Jimmy’s drug abuse gets worse through the movie he finds himself trying heroin.The development of his use is extremely fast in the film and is probably not completely accurate to real life. He shoots up his first time, while most user progress from snorting to popping and then to using needles. Many heroin users report feeling a “rush” when shooting up heroin.While a scene of Jim running through a field plays, he describes, “It was like a long heat wave through my body, any ache and pain or feeling of sadness was completely flushed out.” This “rush” is causes by the rapid entry of heroin into the brain and the attachment of 6-acetyl-morphine and morphine to opioid receptors. It usually last one or two minutes right after administration. The euphoric effect is caused by the reduction of GABA neurons, which ultimately increases the amount of dopamine produced. Jimmy also compares it to one of the most intense orgasms he has ever had. Recent imaging studies have found that the areas the brain most active during ejaculation are also most active following heroin injection. After his first time using Jim describes,“I felt dazed, like I just came out of a four hour movie I did not understand.” Many people who take opiates experience a subjective sense of mental dullness and often report feeling dreamy or spacey The movie does a legitimate job describing and interpreting the “rush” phenomenon and the after effects of first time use.

Many heroin users have an extremely hard time quitting for long periods of time. This is due to both psychological and physical dependence.The movie does a great job portraying the physical but fails to accurately depict the psychological.Physical dependence is shown when Jimmy’s friend forces him to sustain from heroin.Many users keep abusing heroin to avoid the withdrawal effects.Usually six hours after the last dose of daily users, do they start to become anxious and cravings set in. This is...
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