Heroin Was a Deadly Muse for STP's Scott Weiland


They say music is an anchor for memory, and I wholeheartedly agree.

They say music is an anchor for memory, and I wholeheartedly agree.

When a song really sticks with me, I can usually remember where I heard it the first time.

In early 1993, I was in the basement of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity house at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science with a warm Milwaukee’s Best in hand. The intro of a new song caught my attention, and it only got better from there.

I asked my Pi Lambda Phi brother who the band was, but he didn’t know. A few minutes later, however, he yelled in my ear, over the beautiful din, that it was Stone Temple Pilots (STP).

The guitar was powerful and had a delicious amount of distortion. The drums were driving the song, the bass line was absolutely punishing, and the vocals were a melodic roar.

The effects of hearing the “I am, I am, I am,” for the first time has stayed with me to this day, and the album Core remains in my car’s disc changer, as well. By far, it is my favorite 90s album.

When I bought the CD in May 1993, I immediately opened the jacket to see who this front man was. Weiland was the only name in the credit. Later, I found out his first name was Scott.

When given the opportunity to see STP live, I jumped at the chance. The band was raw and powerful, and Weiland was a commanding, whirling dervish who moved across the entire stage.

It’s probably the best concert I have ever attended.

Weiland was mesmerizing, but he was also presumably high on heroin.

Addiction took up a lot of his spare time, and he had many stints in rehab. Once or twice, he would get arrested for possession of a controlled substance on the day he got out. Heroin commanded his stage all too often.

When I heard he died last week at the age of 48, it hurt me. They say he wasn’t using drugs and died from cardiac arrest, and I believe it.

Over the past 20 years, however, the needle probably set this up. Heroin is a deadly muse.

Celebrities make the papers when they go to rehab, but children and adults of all classes of society are quietly dying because of heroin. When police officers carry opiate blockers and high schools are debating keeping them in the nurse’s office, it shows society’s addiction to a deadly substance in epidemic proportions.

Pharmacies sell “insulin syringes” to heroin addicts, and they make a nice piece of change doing it, unfortunately. I believe it to be a good service to provide clean needles and reduce the spread of disease, but it is a shame we have to do it.

As somebody who has battled addiction in his lifetime, I empathize with addicts. They are mostly good people with a bad problem.

Maybe, if they were shown more compassion than scorn, they wouldn’t be dying in the prime of their lives.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, is the author of Fatman in Recovery: Tales from the Brink of Obesity.

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