Up In Smoke
Drug use is often viewed as a way to create or enhance an activity, but some drugs are commonly used for other reasons. In “Illumination Rounds” by Michael Herr, Herr documents his experiences during the Vietnam War. He writes about the wide use of marijuana to help soldiers, and even journalists, cope with the stress that comes from being in a war. The use of marijuana to relieve stress is still prevalent in today’s society, both in popular culture and real life. Many artists such as Bob Marley, Asher Roth and B.o.B. openly express their affection for marijuana and the short term release of stress smoking marijuana gives them. Researchers are finding that not only is the use of marijuana to relieve stress seen in Vietnam and popular culture today, but it is also a problem among a rising number of youth throughout the United States, and even beyond.
“Illumination Rounds” was published in 1969 and was a firsthand account by Michael Herr about his time covering the war in Vietnam. The essay is made up of a collection experiences. These vignettes often are about the stress and hardships of being in a war on the other side of the world, fighting for someone else’s freedoms. Of the ways Herr writes that soldiers dealt with the stress of war, drugs was the most prevalent. The primary drug written about is “grass” or marijuana. There are multiple accounts of Herr smoking marijuana with soldiers. In one account he goes to a soldier’s house off base and they smoke marijuana before some friends come over, then smoke more once the friends show up. A second time is when he is waiting for a helicopter to depart for where he needs to go. He waits with a soldier who is trying to get on a helicopter to a different location, but while they wait together they smoke a “joint” and share stories.
In popular culture there are many references to the use of marijuana to relieve stress and escape the troubles of life. In a song entitled “Cloud 9” by Bobby Ray Simmons,...
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