Just under a million young people in the UK are users of ecstasy and cocaine (both Class A drugs), according to the Home Office.
In 2010 the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported that 6.2% of Britons between the ages of 15 to 34 said they had used cocaine in the previous year. 4.5% of Americans – the second biggest users – in the same age group did the same. Almost 15% of all young Britons have tried the drug at least once.
The UK had moved to the top of the European and US “league table” for cocaine use.
Cocaine acts upon the reward chemical dopamine in the body, deceiving the user into feeling successful, however short-lived.
Over the years illegal drugs have become easily accessible (they are easily transported into the country) despite their danger. In fact, for some young people, the danger element of drugs is what makes them attractive in the first place. Also, the cost of drugs has become cheaper. Could this be the main reason?
There has also been a surging demand for amphetamine-style drugs that effectively mimic the effects of cocaine. The success of mephedrone, the former legal high that could be easily bought online until reclassified by the government in April 2010, underlined the size of the UK drug market among people.
An drug ex-user stated:
“I wanted to experiment and my friends were taking drugs so I thought why not!” The reality is some drugs are highly addictive and when a drug user goes through a period of time without them they can become frustrated and irritable. If they do not have money to buy them, they could end up stealing or end up in prostitution just to feed their addiction.
Unemployment and bankruptcy is increasing in Britain, and at the same time, drug dealing is at an all-time high. Often, drug-dealers want to feel a sense of self-importance and gain respect from users that depend on them for drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy. According to some young people in South London, the police are not doing enough to solve the drug problems within poorer areas.
We need a crackdown on drugs within the community and more support from the government, police, schools and youth workers. But we first need to trully understand why and how drug use is spreading among young people.
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