The drug culture in the UK has risen immensely over the years, and the use of drugs seems to increase even more so during festival season.
The NHS suggest that almost 50% of 16-24 year olds have taken drugs at some point. Whilst Marijuana (Cannabis) is most commonly used amongst young people nowadays, Cocaine, Ecstasy and Ketamine have also become increasingly popular. The impact in which festival season has on drug consumption is quite incredible, and it’s interesting to see why.
With festival season rapidly approaching, it is vital for everybody to be aware of the risks of drug-taking. The effects can vary quite considerably, but all of them can lead to long-term physical and psychological problems.
So, why is it that so many people take drugs at festivals?
There are several reasons why young people might feel inclined to take drugs. Festival season tends to take place just after exams finish, so for many it is a chance to let loose, a way to escape normality for a few days. The temptation to experiment with certain substances is much more appealing away from normal life. Most people who take drugs at a festival wouldn’t dream of doing it away from that scenario, but sadly that is not always the case.
Also, for many, it is their first time away without parents nearby. The feeling of independence and freedom leaves them open to new experiences.
The few days at a festival merges into one, and it ends up being one big party. There is huge temptation for people to experiment and push themselves to certain extents in hope of the best experience and memories, without realising how dangerous this can be. Certain drugs like Ecstasy will only make this situation worse, as they make people feel more confident.
The dangers of taking drugs.
There are various factors at a festival which can contribute to dehydration. With the obvious ones being exposure to the sun and alcohol consumption, lack of sleep in that environment can also have a negative impact on the body. Certain drugs like Ecstasy and Cocaine further increase the risk of dehydration, as one of the side effects of them is raised body temperature.
Although taking drugs in general is bad enough, kids at festivals want to find the best deal they can and are happy to buy them as cheaply as possible. The problem with this is that the cheaper drugs are often mixed with harmful, sometimes even toxic substances, and half the time the individual has no clue what they are taking. Drugs might even contain higher doses than expected, making it much easier to overdose, or just merely lose control (and not in the way intended). There has been a growing report of addiction, and sadly also a growing report of tragic drug-related deaths.
Younger people tend to ignore the thought of addiction, as they don’t think it will happen to them. That is not the case however, and sadly, it can take just that one high for them to get hooked.
Drugs to watch out for.
MDMA and Ecstasy pills have always been top choice for British ravers, however it seems that with the rise in other drugs during recent years, kids are taking whatever they can get their hands on. Here is a list of drugs, and the short-term and long-term effects they can have on the brain and body:
Cannabis (also known as marijuana) has always been seen as the least harmful drug, with people using it to feel more relaxed and content. However, for others it can cause feelings of anxiety, paranoia, panic, and in some cases memory problems. Studies have also shown that long-term use of this drug can increase the risk of psychosis, with symptoms such as hallucinations. It can also be the cause of long-term schizophrenia.
Cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs. The effects vary depending on how you take it, but the drug tends to be quite rapidly acting. Cocaine increases the dopamine release in the brain, releasing happy and positive feelings. However, the drug can also lead to overconfidence and sometimes aggressive behaviour. Long-term effects of the drug can result in kidney damage, blood vessel damage, and nasal perforation. When the happy and positive feelings start to wear off, the ‘comedown’ will leave the individual feeling depressed, anxious and paranoid for days after.
People take LSD with the intention to hallucinate. The world around them will start moving faster or slower, and their surroundings will appear distorted. Large doses of LSD can leave the individual in a life-threatening scenario, leading to hyperthermia or overheating, heart attacks, heart failure, injuries due to impaired judgement, or worst case scenario, death. Long-term effect on the brain can include psychosis or regular hallucinations, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
Methamphetamine is an extremely toxic drug. Users will feel alert after taking this drug, however they can also experience agitation, anxiety, confusion, aggression and insomnia, and in some cases paranoia, hallucinations and delusions, which could end up being long-term. The drug causes the heart rate and blood pressure to increase, which can result in a heart attack. Long-term use of this drug can cause cognitive damage, including memory loss, lack of judgement and motor coordination similar to those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. It can also cause problems physically, with open sores on the face, bad skin and black, rotting teeth. In some cases, Methamphetamine can cause brain damage.
Ketamine causes a reduction of sensation in the body, leaving the individual with a ‘floating’ feeling. Depending on the amount consumed, the feeling can last up to 90 minutes, however other effects can last for 24 hours after one single dose. This includes impairment of coordination, judgement and physical senses. Long-term users can experience very serious bladder problems, which could result in removal of the bladder. Long-term use of the drug can also affect the urinary tract.
Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)
The sensation of relaxation, happiness and euphoria seem great at the time, but the reality is that the risk of death is high with laughing gas. This is because it restricts the flow of oxygen to the brain. Consuming this drug regularly can also result in nerve damage, creating difficulty for even the most simple tasks such as walking.
Ecstasy is one of the most popular party drugs, and has been for over 3 decades. The drug makes people feel more lively, bursting with confidence and wanting to talk. Lights and music often look and feel more intense. However, the ‘comedown’ the next day often leaves the individual feeling depressed. It will leave the body feeling achy and cause headaches, dizziness and feelings of nausea. Depression can become a long-term effect, and excessive use of the drug and cause nerve problems, and even brain damage.
The newest drug on the market, new psychoactive substances, also known as legal highs, are supposed to mimic the effects of the other drugs. We are currently unsure of the exact effects on the brain and body, but what we do know is that they are far from harmless, and can lead to hallucinations, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, confusion, aggression and seizures, all similar health risks to the other drugs.
Heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs out there, and is highly addictive. The initial feelings after taking heroin include relaxation and content, however long-term use of the drug can cause collapsed veins and loss of body tissue, especially in fingers, toes and limbs. The sharing of needles can also lead to infection.
Sign and symptoms parents can look out for
There are many signs and symptoms that parents can look out for to determine whether their child is taking drugs.
Some of the physical signs of drug abuse are:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Change in appetite or sleep patterns
- Change in weight
- Lack of personal hygiene and appearance
- Impaired coordination or slurred speech
Some of the behavioural signs of drug abuse are:
- Problems at school – not going to class, grades getting worse
- Drop in work performance
- Borrowing, or even worse, stealing money
- Loss of interest in most things
- Spending more time alone
- Relationship problems – arguing with people close to them
- Secret or suspicious behaviour
- Drop in attendance and performance at work
- Loss of interest in extracurricular activities
Some of the psychological warning signs of drug abuse are:
- Change in personality
- Attitude towards life, and the people around them
- Mood swings
- Lack of motivation
- Seem more agitated by things
- Moments of hyperactivity
- Can appear scared, anxious, nervous or paranoid, for no particular reason
If you can relate to any of the above, please do give us a call today, whether it is regarding yourself or a loved one, we are here to help – 0203 955 7700.