It cannot be denied that drug use is a part of our culture. The youth of the UK have been partying with the aid of chemical concoctions for decades. From the hippie movement in the sixties to the ravers of the nineties, whether we care to admit it or not, recreational drug use has been ingrained in our society for years. Despite this, there is very little education on the subject.
This is clear, as 18-year-old student Samuel Shannen was arrested last month, for intent to sell class A and B party drugs to fellow students at Brighton Hove and Sussex sixth form college. The reason behind selling drugs is more often than not, money. However, the reason behind why students are buying them and whether they know what they are buying, is left unanswered.
From my brief experience with party drugs, it seems young people take them in order to escape from reality. That, or they just use them to stay awake. A night out typically begins by drinking as much spirit as you can, without being sick. If you can achieve this, your night is swiftly upgraded to a bump of anything class A in the toilets. It is an attempt to free both body and mind, to numb ourselves until all we can do is move to the music.
Nonetheless, young people from all over the country are dying in their attempts to reach this sense of freedom.
Why? They are poorly educated on the effects drugs have on their bodies and they indulge until they simply cannot indulge anymore.
In 2013, the government based information service, working with the PSHCE association filed a report on drug and alcohol education in schools. They found that on average, schools only dedicated 1-2 hours per year on alcohol and drug education. They also found that the resources schools used were outdated and unrelatable.
When speaking to a sixth form student, it becomes obvious that drug education does not come from schools.
“Yes, I’ve taken drugs.” The young man shifted in his chair, before opening his mouth to speak again.
“It probably started with my friends. They were all doing it and I was just led to believe that this is what every young person experiments with. I was interested in seeing how it changed my perception on things, I had heard accounts that smoking marijuana made you more creative. This appealed to me and I guess that’s just how it all started.”
When asked whether he thought education on drugs can be improved, he rolled his eyes in agreement.
“Having a bit of honesty in the attitude to the subject, really. Having the ‘drugs-are-bad-mmmkay?’ approach isn’t convincing to young people. Bringing people in who have taken and experimented with drugs themselves and can talk about their personal experiences good or bad, will provide more of an education on why not to do it, in my eyes.”
Upon my return from my meeting with the student, I was greeted by my neighbor who had obviously been out the night previously.
“alright?” She grunted. Her eyes were huge and had bags below them running extremely deeply. She couldn’t stop moving her mouth, but her most noticeable feature was her smile.
I nodded in acknowledgment.
I decided participating in small talk was the polite thing to do.
My neighbor closed her eyes and smiled as she reminisced about the night before.
She left shortly after filling me in on the escapades of her evening. I wondered whether her drug education was at all like that of the sixth form student and concluded that if it was, she probably had no idea what she had taken that night.
The youth of today’s relationship with drugs is much like a dance with the devil. There’s always risk and they know that. But why stop taking part in something when it feels good? Merely telling them ‘no’ is evidently not working. Schools must stop allowing young people to enter the world of drugs blind. We know they will try them, regardless.
People use drugs to escape, we have done through the centuries and we will continue to do so in the future. No matter how some try, it is difficult to manage. Therefore, schools should offer a fuller education, outlining the dangers and the benefits and offer people the freedom to make up their own minds