Posting in Cities
How willing are you to chance your health and 'drop' a mystery substance?
A survey conducted by the Guardian and Mixmag has yielded results that some may find surprising -- but for the generation involved, says little that we did not already know.
In the survey, 15,000 regular drug users spilled their secrets on everything from drugs of choice, time of use, and how much they pay for both illicit and currently legal drugs.
Stereotypically, perhaps you may imagine these drug users as wasted figures behind locked doors shooting heroin in their arms, or someone being carted off to a rehab clinic. This was not the case.
Instead, the survey found that modern drug users are predominantly white, educated, relatively healthy and are an average age of 28. These are the same people you may see behind the cashier's desk at the bank, or the person you hired to control your stocks. They rarely touch hard options -- such as heroin or crack -- and instead, choose 'softer' options or legal highs.
However, this generation are also willing to take significant risks to their health; admitting that they take cocktails of drugs, mix substances with alcohol, and are not necessarily deterred by the idea of ingesting 'mystery' powders without knowing the content.
Furthermore, the majority of respondents, 76 percent, said they did not need drugs for a good night out - but 86 percent believe that taking something can make a night better.
It has to be kept in mind that the survey may have biased results, as not everyone would be willing to disclose details of potentially illegal activity, and those that would come across the survey in the first place might be a higher proportion of drug takers than a 'general' control sample would include.
However, taking the approach of a UK-based member of Generation Y, we are brought up surrounded by more drug use than we admit. Some may frown upon the idea, however, especially within backpacking and university circles, the use of drugs -- both legal and illegal -- is rife.
A drug user is not necessarily viewed as a social pariah, and perhaps this survey offers a further glimpse in to changing attitudes -- drugs as a tool to 'switch off' from work, as dangerous as it may be. The Guardian mentions the example of James, who works by day in London as a financial broker. At the weekends, he takes a mix of MDMA, cocaine and ketamine.
"My daily life is sensible, regimented and very stressful, so at the weekend I want the complete opposite. When I go out, the last thing I want is to think about work and responsibilities. I just want to lose myself for a few hours."
Those who participated who were under 25 were twice as likely to ingest a 'mystery white powder' than other age groups. 19 percent admitted to this practice, and within this bracket, 80 percent were intoxicated when they took the unknown drug -- and a third accepted it from a stranger.
Not only can drugs be readily bought in cities and university towns, but finding legal alternatives is easily done. Instead of lurking in a dark alley waiting for a dealer, you can go into a 'Head shop' on the streets of London, or order what you want from the sofa at home, to be delivered at your door.
In terms of legal highs, 20 percent have taken them within the last year, 35 percent purchase them from friends, 42 percent from stores, 22.5 percent through dealers -- and 45 percent acquire drugs from online sources.
A 25 year-old accountant from London, Sarah*, believes that it is the illicit nature of drugs which makes people take such risks:
"You've had a stressful week at work, you hit the town, and after a few drinks you want to keep the night going a bit longer. Legal highs are cheaper to get, and can be found quickly online.
I always look at forums and reviews to get an idea of what to expect - you can't always do that with illegal drugs, unless you ask a mate what they've used."
Sarah is a frequent user of legal highs, and buys them online before 'big nights out'. She admitted to using mainly MDMA, Ecstasy and Speed legal alternatives; including 'White Pearls', 'Pink Panthers' and 'MXE'. The majority of the drugs she takes do not reveal their ingredients.
Most are labeled as 'research chemicals' with the instructions that they are not for human consumption. Other drug types take a more satirical approach -- in the case of MDMA equivalent 'White Pearls' the instructions for use are disguised as a means to clean jewelry.
The resounding issue that the UK government faces is that the moment they ban a particular chemical, another alternative springs up in its place. Some view the practice of banning drugs one by one as a useless battle; whereas drug education and awareness should be the priority in tackling the rising use of legal highs.
In the UK, the issue is not helped by confusing and conflicting messages concerning drug use. In the case of cannabis, it is legal to buy all the equipment and to purchase seeds. Your actions only become illegal once a seed enters a plant pot filled with soil.
You are not allowed to smoke it (unless it is prescribed), and yet, if you walk into many London newsagents and corner stores, you are hit with paraphernalia, pipes, and even a 'Blunt Wrap' or two available in every flavor you could wish -- which, naturally, the government gains VAT on.
There are many factions that consider tackling the 'gateway' would be more successful than banning the result. The British are known for their drinking culture -- and the majority of drug users take substances once they've had one too many. Perhaps tackling our reliance on alcohol would be the better alternative.
*Name changed on request.
(via: The Guardian)
Image credit: Bonio/Flickr
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The gases emitted from the flights of EU to other courtiers are discussed comprehensively here. http://www.legaladvicefirm.com/
I am going to be out on my own here. A somone who has worked all my life to put a roof over my families heads and didnt drink or take drugs. The fact is that the system has become top heavy, and doing the right things in life are imposible for many young people. If you work now the money in your pocket at the end of the week is just about enough to get drunk. Getting a job that pays, and then getting a morgage or rented accommodation, and making a life is for many a dream. If putting a strain on the population to reduce it is the aim, then it is working.
I recently watched the Ken Burns series on Prohibition. The first disc was "Nation of Drunks" with information that drinking was common place and the problems with excessive drinking, alcoholism, family problems and other problems. The second disc showed that in spite of have a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol that the consumption went up and was barely underground. The last disc was the effort to repeal the 18th amendment that had overwhelming support. The repeal also included strict laws on the sales of alcohol so that the results were fewer people were drinking afterwards than during prohibition. The supposed lesson from this is that morality can not be legislated while at the same time the prohibition attention went from alcohol to drugs like opiates and cannabus. The results of the war on drugs is that the drugs are still easy to get and the quality is very good. What helps is having good information about the short term and long term effects of any drug. This should be scientific based information and not a gut level opinion. This kind of information falls into the same information as birth control and contraceptives; meaning that the fear is that giving information equals giving permission. The lack of information is what is causing problems in that people do not know how long the effects will last, how to deal with an overdose or even not driving while under the influence. The long term problems of addiction that leads to taking risks to support that addiction and sometimes homelessness. The war on drugs has failed, but it gets a lot of money from the various parts of government to use to combat drug use that has increased in spite of legal actions. In some cultures, having done jail time is a rite of passage. In jails the officers take the prisoner's belts and shoe laces to prevent suicide and the weird fashion of wear pants with the waist below the buttocks is a result. The drug laws do not work and it has had the opposite effect from what was intended. The law makers should revise the drug laws so that the laws do a better job by regulating access as well as stipulating the consequences of abuse, misuse and addiction. The lesson supposedly learned from prohibition.
We can't stop people from being stupid. A joy you're not one of them. Now when will the gov put up the white flag and stop wasting our money over problems they can't fix?