[Due to obvious reasons, a number of sources that I have been in contact for this story wish to remain anonymous, so in some places pseudonyms are used.]

After the death of 17-year-old Regane MacColl after taking an ecstasy pill at the Arches nightclub in Glasgow, the club took the bold move to ban all under 21s from all nightclub events. Furthermore to this the nightclub is also subject to a review at Glasgow City Council over it’s license’s future. Although it is unlikely to lose its license for more than a few weeks, if at all, the point remains that there is a massive culture in this country of ‘pill-heads’, and believe it or not, it’s not new.

It’s pretty much opened a huge metaphorical can of worms (again) though – and that hurt me more than you can imagine to use that pun, but there’s hardly a better way to describe the sweaty writhing bodies inhibiting the clubs in Scotland’s towns and cities.

So, to get a better idea of what the situation is in this country in terms of the ecstasy issue I posted on Facebook appealing for people involved in that scene, from either side of the argument, to get in touch. An influx of information hit me; not only with people voicing their opinions on the fact that the Arches has increased its entry age to 21, but people came forward with stories from within the drug culture through years.

The most in depth interview I collected served to put the drug culture in our country into historical context.  Adam (pseudonym) is a self-confessed ex-user of drugs like hash, pills and acid. Not only does he have the experience of these substances from around 20 years ago he, now, has a son who will soon be of age to go clubbing and therefore be exposed to this culture. He claimed he wouldn’t want to be hypocritical with his son and for that reason would like to see a change in attitude from the government when it comes to club drugs. When asked whether he thought the drug scene is any bigger now than back in 80s and 90s, he said that the biggest issue really isn’t the size, it’s more that the media has taken it for a ride, so it’s more apparent. Further to this, however, he thinks that what young people are consuming in clubs these days is more dangerous than what he was exposed to. Adam said, “The quality of the pills was good, they were expensive, £20 for one E and it would last you an entire night”

For this reason, maybe the logical solution is to introduce a regulatory system in this country, whereby, even if the drugs are illegal, testing kits should be readily available because no matter what line the government and police forces do there is still going to be consumption of these substances. The introduction of a system such as this would take a lot of heat off of the bouncers at clubs as there would be less situations where someone takes something sinister. Systems such as these are already in use in some of the big party islands such as Ibiza, so why not here?

When asked about the fact their children may be of age to go to these clubs they also gave startlingly similar answer both leaning towards wanting to avoid being a hypocrite by saying to their children they should avoid these substances, however also stressing the fact that the consumption of these drugs offered them admission into a whole new interesting culture that they admit has crafted them into the people they are today – be it through people they met or [places they got to experience being part of this scene.

However he was also – and urged they would be with their children – quick to stress that there are clear downsides to the culture. He has had friends that have been encapsulated by the negative side of the culture, some being admitted to mental institutions others being unable to cope with life. As Adam put it, “I guess it’s like crossing a road, it’s inherently dangerous, you can say don’t cross the road but that’s not going to work so you try to mitigate the risk.”

In speaking to a former Arches door-man, Lewis (pseudonym), I discovered a huge critic of the drug culture in this country. Being on the scene when the last (before Regane MacColl) death happened in the Arches, he has first -and experience of the sour effects of club drugs.

“I was one of the first on the scene and was treating him for over an hour before the ambulance came.

“In total, I think about 6 of us were giving him CPR and putting ice in his head to cool him down.

“I would rather every night club was shut down to stop stupid people (any age) being in a culture that kills them off.”

Although Lewis’ view is extreme, it gives an insight into how tragic the effect of these drugs can be. In my opinion, if the government was really serious about minimizing risk they should introduce their own regulatory system, where certain substances are legal and safer. Although that is wishful thinking.


Wanna get high? … Or die?

Drug related deaths have fallen in the last few years, so it would seem that the government’s war on drugs is working. However, everyday more and more new legal highs are coming on the market, new  un-tested, mixes of toxic chemicals that people put in their bodies and think it will be alright, because its legal. Continue reading

‘Hundreds of ‘legal highs’ face ban’

Recently I read an article in The Guardian by Alan Travis titled ‘Hundreds of ‘legal highs’ face ban- but not laughing gas’. Travis gives an insight into the harm that legal highs are doing to younger generations with symptoms such as “unconsciousness, numbness in legs causing collapse, paranoia, aggression and self harm” all being related to ‘legal highs’.

While I agree that teenagers should perhaps be discouraged from inducing substances such as ‘herbal incense’, the term ‘nanny state’ springs to mind when there is talk of them being banned altogether.

Surely if a young person is old enough to go to a music festival, out clubbing or on holiday abroad (situations where these ‘drugs’can often be associated with) they are old enough to make their own decision as to whether they want to experience these substances or not.

I feel that part of growing up is deciding for yourself the difference between right and wrong. If a youngster decides that they want to try a material which alters their behaviour and thoughts for a period of time, they are likely to get their hands on it- whether it is legal in the UK or not.

Alcohol has been related with the same effects on young people as ‘legal highs’ have. However, in comparison to the consumption of these substances, there is a far higher percentage of instances where adolescents have been badly affected or worse, ended up in hospital due to misuse of alcohol, which is entirely legal.

Next week, the government’s chief drugs adviser, Les Iversen, and his colleagues will advise on which legal highs they think should be banned in the UK. Maybe they should consider allowing teenagers to have the freedom to make their own decisions.