It’s one of the most famous monologues in cinematic history: “Choose life,” says Ewan McGregor in the 1996 film adaptation of “Trainspotting,” Irvine Welsh’s gritty novel about a group of drug addict friends living in Edinburgh.
But why would I want to do a thing like that?” continues McGregor’s character Mark Renton. “I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?” The dark comedy-drama with a blistering Britpop soundtrack was an international success that shone a light on Scotland’s drug scene.
“Irvine Welsh did us a favor,” said Roy Robertson, professor of Addiction Medicine at the University of Edinburgh who has worked as a doctor in the city for more than 40 years.
The book’s original publication in 1993 was “a landmark moment,” said Robertson. “For those of us who worked in, and lived in that sector at that time, it really was a very accurate portrayal of the problem. That very young, very dynamic, very aggressive marketing of very pure heroin — and all the consequences of that.” But 25 years after the movie’s release, Scotland’s drug problem is, by some measures, worse than ever.
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