London is a drugs supermarket
Your neighbours are at it, your boss does it, maybe the milkman too: London is awash with drugs. We spoke to four users about what they take and why.
Mary – 32, student
‘I started taking drugs when I was 19; you could say I got in with the wrong crowd!'
'It was speed and ecstasy in those days, now it’s more cocaine and only occasional pills. I stayed in and did crack with my boyfriend and a mate a couple of Thursdays ago. I’d always been curious about it, but would not have gone looking for it. The mate is an occasional dealer and he had some on him. I wouldn’t say that it was great, but it’s very moreish and you don’t get completely off your face. You never feel really out of it and it’s quite clean. I didn’t have a big comedown the next day, just got up and went to work. I wouldn’t want it to become a normal thing, though. That’s the fun behind most drugs, really; the fact that they’re illicit, that’s what makes it special. If it becomes mundane, that takes the fun out of it, and it becomes joyless.
‘I’d never say “Let’s stay in and do crack”, and it can become that way with cocaine or pills. It should be like a treat rather than something you need. The thing about cocaine and alcohol combined, or pills, is that the comedowns aren’t great, and I know it’s going to be four days to get back to normal.
It’s probably one of the big reasons why I don’t do it most of the time. I might have a line at weekends and then maybe once a month or so it’ll get more excessive and I’ll have more of a messy weekend. I’ve tried ketamine and smack, but I won’t try ketamine again; I’ve heard too many horror stories about the health risks. And I probably wouldn’t do smack again, either. I’m worried about some friends who are doing lots of it.’
The bingerPenelope – 29, English teacher ‘I didn’t start taking drugs until I was at university'.
'I hated smoking dope and never drank because I grew up in a small town, and was the one who had a car and drove. I loved acid when I was 19 and then, when I was 20, I fell headlong into the rave scene. I went through phases of going out Thursday to Sunday nights when I lived up north, but in hindsight we never used to take that much. A gram between three or four, a pill or two, and that was you for the weekend.
London’s different. When people go at it here, they go crazy. You can stay up all night long every night of the week here and there doesn’t seem to be a natural slowdown when you hit 30 so much. You can have kids and move out of London, but if you stay, you really stay. There’s a feeling in London that you have to work hard and play harder, so you can’t just go out and take half a pill, you have to stay up all weekend. Some friends who are 30 or so all went through a bit of a panic that still going out is a bit sad when you’re not in your twenties, but there are still 40-year-olds on the dancefloor. If it’s still fun, why not?
‘There’s always a time when you hate yourself for it when your head’s on the pillow, wishing you never did coke or whatever, but that’s just because you’ve smoked a million fags, drunk far too much and spent all your cash. Everyone’s so used to drugs now. So someone does a line or half a pill, so what? We’ve all been around long enough to know that it doesn’t kill you. Drinking hard and fast during happy hour then going out into the street to cause all manner of havoc bothers me more. Drugs are everywhere. We had a 13-year-old in school with ecstasy in her bag. I don’t know if you’d find that outside of London.’
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