In one sequence, OBrien describes in poetic eloquence the same patterns which the research cited here above notes. Particularly, though all are exposed to the same terrors and opportunities in Vietnam, some are more prone than others to returning home with the dependencies formed at war. OBrien tells that “you come over clean and you get dirty and then afterward its never the same. A question of degree. Some make it intact, some dont make it at all . . . Vietnam had the effect of a powerful drug: that mix of unnamed terror and unnamed pleasure that comes as the needle slips in and you know youre risking something. The endorphins start to flow, and the adrenaline, and you hold your breath and creep quietly through the moonlit nightscapes; you become intimate with danger.” (OBrien, 114)
The explicit connection that OBrien makes here between the war and the abuse of heroin seems to imply that the inherent dangers of the latter were given prelude by the clearly visible dangers of the former.
For those who faced the legitimate possibility and the definite visage of death every day, the risks that were a part of hard drug use were well worth the benefits. That is, the same passage suggests, until one returns home incapable of shedding these impractical associations. The danger of addiction then takes precedence.
Indeed, as the research addressed here throughout demonstrates, the transition into civilian life would often be obstructed by the combined trauma of wartime experiences and a deepening dependency on the chemical crutches which seemed rational to assume during the war. In the years to follow the war in Vietnam, shattered and disabled veterans would bring into much clearer view the patterns that would ultimately spill over into long-term addictions.
American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2001). Vietnam-Era Drug Problems Last for Decades, Study Finds. Psychiatric News, 36(18), 20.
Langdale, T. (2009). Drug Use and Addiction in War. Highest Five. Online at http://www.highestfive.com/combat/drug-use-and-addiction-in-war/
OBrien, Tim. (1998). The Things They Carried. Broadway, Reprint Edition.
Robins, L.N.; Davis, DH &.