• June 26, 2018
  • Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
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As we grow up, we often experience things as a part of a group, or with others who are within our age group. 

Our education system sees peers of the same age, banded together and often learning and experiencing things at the same time. 

Growing up, I saw classmates and friends experiment with drugs such as cannabis and alcohol at a young age—13 years old. 

After leaving school and going to college in the UK (16 to 18 years old), I didn’t come in contact with drugs. However, when I reached “adulthood” with my friends, I began to experiment with Class A drugs such as MDMA, cocaine, ecstasy pills and even ketamine. 

With a sense of invincibility and excitement many feel at this age, our group regularly took these drugs when we went out to clubs. A large part of the social interaction during our nights was to share the anecdotes, challenges, and laughs we had from taking drugs—they dominated our discussions. 

We spent hours recounting our shared experiences of different drug’s effects, the thrills, and the triumph of nearly getting caught by club security, and the drug “quality” differences from various sources. 

It was engaging, rebellious, fun and cool and for many in the group, it became our main shared reality. Greetings often began with, “Are you alright? What are you on?” Meaning what buzz were you experiencing from which drug. 

It was socially acceptable and the social norm at the time. Some of the group bragged about taking too much and then hearing funny recounts of how “messy” they had been that night (”messy” meaning uncoordinated or generally so intoxicated by drugs you were a mess to look at). 

This is probably not that surprising, and most drug users can relate in some way to the social aspect of drugs, and feeling part of an unofficial club when they are out with other users, sharing experiences. But for our group, it lasted 2 to 3 years. 

But as other younger students began having their own rites of passage discovering drugs at the clubs we went to, we began to look for the even cooler more underground nightclubs and venues to go to. These were less aesthetic, were dirtier, and were populated by more seasoned drug using party-goers. 

Some of those in the group began not to enjoy the drugs and didn’t enjoy the company anymore. They recognised the damage and began to phase themselves out of the group, going out with different friends who weren’t so into drugs. Over time, our group thinned out a bit, but we connected with others who had also gone their own route of enjoying drugs to our same level. 

And so our group evolved with other keen drug-users, and inevitably so did the level of drug use. At some point, it became clearer to me that the group I was hanging around with had drugs as their main priority in life. I began to observe that they were holding themselves back in areas of life and focusing on social partying and drug use. 

They lived for the weekend. 

Our health began to suffer, as well as our jobs, relationships with each other, and general behaviour. These were good friends, who had simply got a little too attached and focused on the short-term kicks from drugs and partying.

I began to notice the differences when I would see others of a similar age group when meeting or networking in a professional environment—that these peers looked brighter, seemed happier and more stable in life. 

Some other party-animal friends of mine had similar realisations and made a conscious decision to limit their partying to maybe once a month, cut back on the drugs they took, and focus on other, more constructive things. 

It seemed some of us had the awareness to observe what else was going on in life outside of the party and were able to take a mature view on whether there was more we could do to build better lives for ourselves—not just party them away. 

The novelty had worn-off. 

We realised there could be greater satisfaction and pride from being more responsible and spending our time in better ways. I suppose you could say we grew out of the drug scene after a while. 

This didn’t occur to everyone we knew, and some of our friends took many more years of reckless partying and damaging drugs before questioning their habits and realising it was not as fun anymore. By the time a lot of them did come to this conclusion, they had missed the boat on professional careers, had been caught with drugs and had criminal records. 

Or had only maintained a group of drug-using friends—so much so that they couldn’t socialise without being in the tempting drug-rife environment and thus didn’t quite break free from the lifestyle. They could only wish they had done something more with their lives—and took comfort in drugs to take their attention off where they had failed. 

A few of these friends never broke free, never had the realisation, and continued their “living in the moment” lifestyle, with deteriorating health, diminished work prospects, and poor quality of life in general. A couple of years after breaking-off from one group, a guy I had met a few times died after partying non-stop for an entire weekend. 

His mother was devastated—as were many people in that social group. I spoke to someone who attended the funeral—someone who had also made a conscious decision to step back a little. She told me the funeral itself was littered with excessive drug-taking by the friends attending who had lost their friend. 

Apparently, they were unable to cope with the pain or acknowledge the reality of what had caused it. Perhaps they saw it as honouring the deceased and the lifestyle they had chosen together. 

Samuel was born in South East London and now helps families and individuals through Narconon UK - the drug rehabilitation service.


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