Howard Stern, Artie Lange, and Heroin Legalization

Posted: April 13th, 2009 | Filed under: drugs, heroin, legalization, opiates | 6 Comments »

On other shows, cast member Artie Lange’s heroin addiction would have been covered up. On The Howard Stern Show it has been openly discussed. Thanks to this honesty, heroin and opiate addiction myths have been toppled for millions of Howard Stern listeners. Some of these misconceptions are:

1. Heroin Affects Your Functioning – Opiates do not substantially interfere with functioning like alcohol does. They can with extreme usage, but even for hard-core addicts maintenance levels do not necessarily create functional differences. Studies have found that doctors addicted to opiates are just as proficient as their peers. The cast of The Howard Stern Show has not been able to tell when Lange is using. Lange has been extremely tired on some shows, but this was because he had a brutal schedule and was up all night driving to Delaware for his heroin – not from the pharmacological effects of heroin. Moralistic listeners want Lange kicked off the show for his usage, but as Howard Stern has said, “He does a great job … I don’t have a problem with him. He does what he is supposed to do.” (1/5/09)

2. Heroin Users Are Monsters – The large majority of people who try heroin do not go on to become addicts. [On the show it has been revealed Stern, Chris Rock (9/24/08), and David Arquette (4/16/07) have used heroin and never become addicted.] And many people who do become addicted lead relatively normal lives and never resort to criminal behavior. Of course, these responsible and conscientious addicts are invisible to mainstream America because they hide their habits well and do not get caught up in the criminal justice system. It is the out-of-control and dysfunctional users whose asinine behavior gets them in the papers and on COPS. Heroin and opiates do not chemically change your moral compass. Other cast members of The Howard Stern Show have accused heroin of turning Lange into a liar. But as Lange has argued repeatedly, he only lies when honesty about his usage would endanger his job.

3. Legalized Heroin Would Be Dangerous – At the time of this posting, Lange had been using the prescription opiate, Subutex, off and on for four years. Although heroin has the most evil reputation, all opiates work in the same manner. Heroin has the same effect as morphine. It is simply three times as potent in the body. Subutex is 25 times as potent as morphine. Declaring a war on heroin is similar to declaring a war on wine but not beer or liquor. When Lange went on Subutex it felt like, “[he] was flying, completely normal, and high too,” and “within a month, [his] life had turned from complete darkness to amazing light.” On Subutex, Lange was able to do The Howard Stern Show while simultaneously making his movie, Beer League. On Subutex he no longer had to lie about his behavior, he didn’t have to drive to Delaware, and the threat of accidental overdose virtually disappeared.

As a public defender I was always surprised how people did not think drugs should be legalized, but when their loved one was busted for drugs she or he was not a criminal. The same phenomenon occurred on The Howard Stern Show. No one clamored for Lange to be prosecuted. In Lange’s rarified showbiz world it was inconceivable to some of his peers that he could even be arrested. [Show co-host, Robin Quivers, “What’s he going to go to jail for?” (1/6/09)] Lange supports legalization of all drugs. (12/1/08)

To learn the fascinating truth behind other myths surrounding drugs and sex read You Will Die: The Burden of Modern Taboos.


  1. Robert Arthur, You Will Die: The Burden of Modern Taboos (2008).
  2. Gary Dell’Abate, The Howard Stern Show, Sirius XM Radio.
  3. Artie Lange, Too Fat to Fish (2008), pp. 264-265.

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6 Comments on “Howard Stern, Artie Lange, and Heroin Legalization”

  1. 1 TK said at 7:38 am on April 25th, 2009:

    WOW! Finally a voice of reason, thank you so much…I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to find your blog, but you’ve no idea how thrilled I am to be here, how gratifying to read an informed opinion from a person with obvious experience dealing with “criminals” caught up in our country’s fake “WAR ON DRUGS”.
    I say legalize ’em all, like Artie said, lol. Seriously, why not? What about a little personal responsibility America? Hey, if people are gonna OD, they are gonna do it, legal or not. Let the morons take themselves out of society and save us a few bucks.
    I am still astounded that in the year 2009, my husband still has to hide his recreational use of marijuana; it’s not hidden from most people that matter to us, but to society in general. My husband, a 46 yr old man who’s had the same job at the same company for 24+ years, and has no criminal record has to hide like an outlaw to smoke a little weed, and yep I also indulge occasionally–CALL CPS! Sheesh, imagine the horror if the parents of our daughters friends found out! Honestly, at this point I could care less, but we do have to think of our daughter and the way her world works.
    No please, dont call CPS, lol, with the state our economy is in, we dont have any extra cash to pay to our county to get custody of our perfectly healthy, smart and socially acceptable daughter back from them.
    The “WAR ON DRUGS” is a joke, like so many other “wars” our government engages in, but honesly, how do CHANGE the situation?
    Thanks for reading my rant.

  2. 2 matt said at 3:39 pm on November 13th, 2012:

    whenever u make something illegal u give other people the chance to profit of it. more violence comes out of drugs being illegal because the cartels will kill u if u get in their way because they want to control the drug market and trafficking routes. so if u legalize drugs they will go broke over night and there will be no need for them to make violence

  3. 3 NorskeDiv said at 4:08 pm on March 25th, 2013:

    Sorry, I disagree. Before the pure food and drug act heroine sale to the public was banned, the country was full of opiate addicts and it was destroying more lives than it is today. The simple fact of the matter is that opiates are highly addictive, the human brain is almost incapable of making a rational choice to continue using them. Artie Lange says he is much happier now off of heroine than he ever was on it.

    Even doctors who previously thought Opiates should be more widely prescribed admit they were wrong. The answer is to less widely prescribe them so people don’t have the chance to start getting addicted. Personally I don’t ever take opiates, even when I had a root canal, because after taking them once after getting a wisdom tooth removed I realized how addictive and mood altering they were.

    China a fought a war to end the legal use of opium because it was destroying their country. Any kind of legalization would only be temporary, and it would not be long before voters themselves would be clamoring for recriminalization.

    If anything, confusing legalization of heroine with de-criminalizing Marijuana just delays rationally dealing with Marijuana.

  4. 4 Administrator said at 5:30 pm on May 22nd, 2013:

    NorskeDiv, you are wrong.

    1. The vast majority of people that use opiates do not become addicted. If you are that worried about pain relievers after a root canal I recommend you stay away from alcohol. The addiction rates are far higher for alcohol than medically prescribed opiates.

    2. At the time of opiate criminalization the estimated number of heroin addicts was three in a thousand. The number was similar when Nixon declared his war on drugs.

    3. Decriminalization has not been found to have significant effects on usage rates. See my post on Portugal.

    4. Opium usage was demonized and scapegoated in China for political purposes just as alcohol usage was during America’s prohibition. Read Dik├Âtter’s Narcotic Culture (2004) to learn more about China’s opium wars.

  5. 5 Lucas said at 2:32 pm on August 16th, 2013:

    Sorry, but I have to agree to NorskeDiv.

    The addictive nature of opiates is different from that of alcohol, thus much higher. Opiates affects your functioning in a more subtle and deeper way than alcohol, with less of the physical disability and more of emotional attachment.

    Addiction risk is the reason doctors in my country rarely prescribe strong opiates like the hydrocodones and oxycodones that flood USA currently. They just prescribe weak opioids in post surgical situations and morphine for cancer patients.

    I don’t know which source states that the addiction rates are far higher for alcohol than opiates, but I personally strongly disagree with that. And I think the chinese also. Of course there are always political purposes in every war, but this does not deny that the opium flood was destroying China creating a legion of addicts and you’re just ignoring this fact.

    I agree that heroin users aren’t monsters, they just need help. But legalizing heroin? Bad ideia.

  6. 6 Fools said at 2:02 pm on April 21st, 2015:

    Lucas – you have no idea what you’re talking about. Alcohol is the dirtiest, most toxic, addictive crap on the planet and as another poster mentioned, all drugs were banned for political reasons.

    I did opiates for about 10 years, but I still can’t quit drinking. Drinking is wayy harder to quit.