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Drug use fundamental to social life of most clubbers By Richard Ford, Home Correspondent
DRUG-TAKING is a fundamental part of the social life of almost half the young people currently using illegal substances, according to a Home Office report published yesterday. The central role played by drugs in clubbing and partying is highlighted in a report revealing that drug users are experimenting with a wider range of substances than ever before.
A new drug fashion is emerging in youth culture, in which the synthetic substances ketamine and GHB are becoming increasingly popular. Large numbers of young people are also mixing drugs with alcohol and 60 per cent are drinking hazardous levels of beer and spirits, consuming the entire weekly recommended alcohol level in one night.
Danny Kushlick, of Transform, the campaign for an effective drugs policy, said yesterday: ?There are few people in clubs that do not use drugs. Most people who go out to listen to repetitive beats for five to six hours need to have drugs to change their way of thinking just to get through that.? He said the report?s findings showed the continuing normalisation of recreational drug use in certain cultures and that their use was seen as a lifestyle choice.
The study found that clubbers have far more experience of drugs than the general young adult population: 80 per cent admitted using a drug at some time in their life, compared with only 50 per cent among those between 16 and 29. ?Drug use is far more prevalent among those attending mainstream clubs than among the general population of young people,? the report, published by the Home Office, said. ?Moreover, among the clubbers sampled, the vast majority considered recreational drug use to be a normal activity.?
The study added: ?A particularly striking finding is that current drug users had more wideranging drug-use careers than those classified as lapsed drug users.?
The study also found that clubbers drank more often and in greater quantities than young adults in general. Many questioned during the survey of six clubs in the South East intended to drink at least ten units of alcohol that night. Eighty per cent of clubbers had tried at least one drug. Three quarters had used cannabis, more than half had used Ecstasy, half had used amphetamines and cocaine and one third LSD and amyl nitrate.
Among clubbers interviewed in 2000 the most popular club drug was Ecstasy followed by cannabis. Young clubbers gave a variety of reasons for using drugs, the most popular being boredom, curiosity and others using drugs. No one said that they had been pushed into using drugs by a dealer and many were dismissive of those who suggested that this was a way of initiation into drug use.
Most said that they had a regular supplier and a set pattern for obtaining drugs that was part of detailed planning, sometimes weeks in advance, for a night out. A typical night out would start with meeting at a friend?s home, drinking alcohol occasionally followed by cocaine. In the queue for the club, the first tablet of Ecstasy is taken followed by more in the club.
Cannabis or alcohol would then be used to ?come down? at the end of the night. Hardly anyone admitted buying drugs from a dealer in a club and most were dismissive of security guards on the doors. Searching on the doors was described as ineffective because it was either not carried out at all or only in a superficial way.
Clubbers believed that drugs confiscated by door staff were then resold by them. None of those questioned had been reported to the police after drugs had been found during a door search.
Last night Caroline Flint, the Drugs Minister, warned young people of the danger of mixing alcohol and drugs particularly over the new year. She said: ?Over the party season some young people, who have never taken drugs before, may be inclined to try. All illegal drugs are harmful and no one should take them. We all know the dangers of binge drinking and drugs, but people often give little thought to the toxic cocktail of alcohol mixed with drugs.?
A Home Office spokesman said that the findings of the research had taken four years to publish because of administration. He added: ?These things take a long time. It is down to administration in this case?.
There are currently 15 research reports awaiting publication by the Home Office, including three from 2002.
A 26-year-old woman was raped after her drink was apparently spiked with an unknown drug, police said yesterday. It is thought that the victim was attacked as she walked home after a night out in Towcester, Northamptonshire, on Boxing Day. She was seen at about 1am, barefoot and in a distressed state. Police said she accepted a lift from two white men in a dark-coloured car, possibly a VW Golf. Just after 5am the woman flagged down a police car after finding herself in a field near the old Towcester Football Club ground.
FROM EXPERIMENT TO DANGER
Typical British clubbers are employed, in their early twenties and white
Almost all follow a similar pattern of experimentation with drugs. The path starts with alcohol at around the age of 14, followed by cannabis which typically leads on to LSD and/or speed
By the time they become regular clubbers, Ecstasy is the drug of choice. Clubbers often then move on to cocaine and, to a lesser extent, to ketamine, also known as ?Special K?, and GHB (gammahydroxybutrate) which is also known as ?liquid Ecstasy?