Are the Kids Alright?

by Scarlet Alexa

Ben and Seb, two fifteen-year-old boys from a small coastal town in the Southwest of England, give us a captivating yet worrying insight into the lives of two teenagers growing up in an age where drugs are ubiquitous and their attainment effortless. 

As a kid growing up, I was always aware of drugs. My uncles and Nan were habitual users of heroin amongst other class A’s and my grandad, a weed dealer from back in the sixties. Thankfully for me, my parents only ever smoked a bit of dope but were always honest about the drug use in the family and as we got older would regale their own past experiences with drugs, usually amusing experiences with psychedelics – drugs were never a taboo subject and I believe this enabled me to make better decisions when faced with offers of drugs later in life. When I had my children, I wanted the same. I didn’t want them to have unrealistic ideologies about drugs. I didn’t want them to fear drugs like at schools and youth clubs teach you to do. I always thought this would cause more temptation and rebellion. The drugs available when I was at school were mostly weed, which back when I smoked at school was soap bar, a cheap resin often found with bits of plastic in it, which I can only assume added to the weight. I’d also get the odd friend who’d get a couple of pills now and then, but it wasn’t a run of the mill thing every weekend, not like alcohol and dope was. But now times have changed. The drugs available to school kids is unimaginable and their acquirement, painfully easy. Today I spoke with two teens, who we will call Ben and Seb, about their relationships with drugs and what it’s like growing up in today’s climate of using social media to buy drugs, where age is not an issue.

Seb explains: “I can get any drug you could want; probably drugs you’ve never even heard of. all you have to do is message the owner of the group chat (telegram) and you can get them delivered straight to your door.”

The two of them having tried marijuana at the same age of thirteen, it wasn’t long before they were both trying harder drugs – that’s not to say that marijuana was the gateway drug, I’ve always hated that idea, but perhaps more to do with its accessibility and its mostly minor side effects. Ben mentions: “It started with marijuana and alcohol, then it wasn’t long before friends were offering me MDMA, ketamine, pills (ecstasy), acid, mushrooms, and NOS – So much NOS, (nitrous oxide).”

I asked how they had managed to procure such drugs and how they felt after having tried them. Seb’s response was surprising: “I thought it was amazing. I’m not going to lie, because I had never experienced anything like it, and it opened a whole new path for me mentally! I can get any drug you could possibly want, probably drugs you’ve never even heard of, all you have to do is go on to certain Instagram accounts that promote drugs, click a link in their bio which takes you onto an app called Telegram where they will have daily updates on their private chat groups, which say whatever drugs they have available at that time; Then all you have to do is message the owner of the group chat and you can get them delivered straight to your door and it’s normally trouble free. Or, if they’re local, you can arrange a time and place to meet them and you can get them like that.”

They told me they had been getting drugs this way, or at least, if not them, their friends had been. It doesn’t seem to matter what age you are, they seem happy to deliver to you, especially when they’re using younger people to deal for them. 

They spoke about how many kids their age were using drugs. Ben comments: “Even the so called ‘geeks’ will be doing hard drugs at parties, or out in town on the weekend. It doesn’t seem to be such an isolated problem anymore. It seems very widespread.”

I wondered if when they looked back, whether they would change anything about their drug intake, or the age that they took them. Did they think it had affected them negatively although they enjoyed it the first time they had taken them. Ben remarks: “I definitely wouldn’t have tried them at such a young age and definitely wouldn’t have taken so many. They affected me in both ways. They made me feel amazing at the time but it’s afterwards that they make you feel shit, but then I would just take more to make myself feel better, then you get stuck in a never-ending loop of taking them every weekend.”

Calderdale council state: “the main predictor for the severity of young people’s substance misuse problems, is the age they start using substances.” The two lads we have spoken to today seem intelligent, well rounded, and aware of their drug use and its negative impacts. The council also state: “Evidence shows that physical and mental well-being and good social relationships and support are all protective factors.” We can only hope most youth trialling drugs at such a young age today, are in supportive families, with supportive friendships, and their drug use is experimental and short lasting. Otherwise, where does that leave this generation of kids with a whole wealth of drugs at their fingertips?

Editor’s note: Pseudonyms were used in this article.

© 2023

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