Young Make Drugs Part of Everyday Life

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Nov 25, 2002.

  1. By James Meikle, Health Correspondent
    Source: Guardian Unlimited

    Britain's twentysomethings have defined their own "sensible" drug-taking culture and incorporated a regular use of illegal substances into a work hard/play hard lifestyle, according to research.
    Far from "maturing out" of adolescent binge drinking and occasional drug taking, these young people are helping to make recreational drug use part of everyday life.

    They are also challenging assumptions that drug users are unemployed and unemployable people who could only fund their habit through crime.

    Howard Parker and a research team at Manchester University have monitored hundreds of young people in north-west England since they were aged 13 or 14. The team warned yesterday that the government's drug strategy must incorporate tobacco and, especially, alcohol use, and embrace the "realities" of how people actually behaved.

    "In the absence of any public health messages for young adults into their lifestyles, hard-soft drug distinctions are becoming increasingly blurred.

    "At 18, nearly all this group said they would never touch cocaine because it was addictive. Yet by 23 , more than a quarter of them have used cocaine powder."

    This research coincides with a seperate survey which found that increasing numbers of teenagers are using cannabis.

    The proportion of 14- and 15-year-old boys who said they had tried the drug jumped from 19% in 1999, to 29% in 2001, according to research by the schools health education unit. Cannabis, which is being downgraded from a Class B to a Class C drug, was the only illegal drug not considered to be "always unsafe" by older children, the unit found.

    Researchers said that the response of 22- to 23-year-olds indicated few signs of moderation since they were 18.

    At 18, 82% were weekly drinkers; most went drinking several times a week. This profile was almost identical five years later. Binge drinking remained endemic.

    At 18, 63% of the sample had tried an illegal drug. By 23, this had risen to 76%.

    Professor Parker, director of Manchester University's social policy applied research centre, said: "Even now, more than half remain drug active with 30% being regular drug users (having tried at least one drug in the last month), primarily of cannabis, followed by ecstasy and now cocaine replacing amphetamine and LSD use."

    As he and fellow researchers reported in the journal Sociology: "Thus far, their drug involvement is only plateauing and at a high rate. It is only with their increasing tendency to become cannabis users despite previous, more florid, drug repertoires, that these users are showing signs of moderation."

    The young people said their parents, too, were far more "realistic" and tolerant of cannabis use than they were a few years ago.

    Prof Parker explained yesterday: "What has changed is the way their substance abuse is managed.

    "Subjects reported they now exercised more self-discipline and control over their drug use and binge drinking, by restricting it far more to weekends.

    "The sample see their substance use as de-stressing - chilling out activity, whereby intoxicated weekends and going out to 'get out of it' is the antidote to the working week."

    Access to drugs was straightforward, according to the article in Sociology.

    Educated, employed, and otherwise conforming young people had informal drugs distribution methods whereby friends and friends of friends "sorted" the matter, distancing them from "real" dealers.

    Their choice of drugs, beyond cannabis, was partly determined by the need to get up for work on weekdays. Thus cocaine powder, which, for most, had short-term effects, was replacing LSD and amphetamines.

    There were other limits on "sensible" consumption. Both drug users and abstainers were less comfortable with friends who regularly took class A drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and LSD.

    "What the Class A stimulant users have done is pose a very knotty political dilemma.

    "As primarily educated, employed young citizens with otherwise conforming profiles, they challenge the 'war on drugs' discourse which prefers to link drug use with crime and personal tragedy and utilises this discourse as a reason for not calling a truce."

    Note: Employed users challenge idea of 'losers' funding habit by crime.

    Special Report: Drugs in Britain:,2759,178206,00.html

    Source: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)
    Author: James Meikle, Health Correspondent
    Published: Monday, November 25, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 Guardian Newspapers Limited

    Related Articles & Web Site:

    Drugs Uncovered: Observer Special

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