No matter what end of the country you’re studying in, from laid-back Brighton to the upmarket Cambridge, you’re bound to encounter drug use at some stage of your university experience. If it’s not the stoners next door, it’s the Nitrous Oxide party starters or the lines being cut up at 4am. It may not necessarily be you who’s partaking – but it’s everywhere. Although illegal, it can be seen as a way to keep the party going or to unwind after exam stress, but when does ‘chasing the dragon’ turn more sinister?
The availability of illegal substances such as your classic party drugs – Cocaine, MDMA & Speed increases each year alongside more risky party favors such as Ketamine, GHB, MKAT and research chemicals. Don’t get me wrong; the use of these substances is not a guaranteed death sentence, and many casual users will go through their life unscathed and being able to control their use – but here’s the flip side. In 2013 there was 2,995 drug-related deaths recorded in the UK and 12,300 drug-related hospitalizations. What went wrong here? Nobody can be too sure. Could it be the purity, where dealers are selling chemicals that are much stronger than before, or are cutting classic substances with poisonous additives?
Either way, something needs to be done to ensure that drug users are safer and are more educated in the dangers of substance misuse. There will never be a day where students let alone other adults don’t take drugs anymore – especially with the rise in house music events that go on all night and the ‘after party’ culture. However, there are people who are trying to embrace drug culture, but also keep us all safe – The Warehouse Project being a key player. The Warehouse Project is one of the biggest dance music event providers in the UK, and in 2013, introduced on-site drug testing. As drugs are sold in batches, and there is a good chance more than one person in the club has the same substance, any seized chemicals found by door staff are handed into researchers in the back – who instantly test the chemicals. If they find strong chemicals (such as PMA which has had many related deaths) they announce it to clubbers, to ensure they know the risks. This was in response to the death of youth worker Nick Bonnie who died at the club after supposedly taking the illicit drug Ecstasy.
Drug use can be very seductive at the beginning. It may give you the confidence to talk to other people, the ability to dance all night or even help you relax and sleep when you’re stressed off your nut about exams. But not only are you dicing with death – you’re also challenging the law. The law states that if you are caught in possession of a Class A drug (such as the party drugs Cocaine, Ecstasy and LSD) you are up for 7 years in prison and an unlimited fine. It doesn’t get much better when you’re caught with a Class B drug (such as Ketamine, research chemicals (eg MKAT, MXE), cannabis & amphetamine) where you’re looking at 5 years and an unlimited fine.
If you still want to go ahead and experiment with drugs – there are websites out there to keep you safer. Any information you need on the effects and the law on every substance can be found at www.talktofrank.com , and websites such as www.ecstasydata.org can show you how impure most street drugs can be, and you can also send your own substances off for testing.