A-Z

Drugs and Alcohol (young people)

Alcohol and risks to self and others

The young people we spoke to were aware that drinking alcohol carries a number of risks, both in terms of what it can do to a person’s body and in terms of the risks associated with being drunk.

Alcohol and risks to the body
Over time, drinking heavily can result in high blood pressure, liver damage, heart disease and has been connected to stomach and breast cancer. In the short-term, drinking too much in a single session can result in alcoholic poisoning leading to a coma or death. Many of the young people we spoke to did not seem to be very concerned about the health consequences of drinking heavily but Harry did mention a few:
 

Harry has gained weight from drinking heavily, he worries about what his liver might be like when he is older.

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Harry has gained weight from drinking heavily, he worries about what his liver might be like when he is older.

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Drinking like binge drinking then you’re not as in control, your liver later on in life, that’s just going to like just going to be ruined the fact that people like, I personally don’t find that when I drink I get aggressive but it’s not me that I have to worry about it’s other people that are around me drinking who get aggressive and want to fight me or want to fight other people who want to fight the world I don’t know, but it’s a bit like that with like with binge drinking and there’s like definitely a worry but it’s more the health, with me personally it’s more like later on in life what’s my body going to be like. And the weight you put on is the immediate affect like you can see oh look how much you’re putting on, how much weight you’re putting on from drinking that much so you notice the effect almost like in the next week or like whatever well with me personally. But it’s the later on effect that worries me more my actual inside organs are going to be ruined.

 

Being drunk and risks
Bekky commented that when people start drinking they do some rather strange and unpredictable things and don’t remember it the next day.
 

Jamie once woke up in bed next to a young woman but he'd been so drunk the night before that he had no idea whether they'd had sex.

Jamie once woke up in bed next to a young woman but he'd been so drunk the night before that he had no idea whether they'd had sex.

Age at interview: 26
Sex: Male
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I had one experience where I drank so much alcohol that I woke up in the morning and I was laying next to a girl and I couldn’t even remember whether we’d had sex or not, so, whether it was protected or unprotected wasn’t even a question it was like, well did I even have sex with this person? So, yeah you, I don’t think, I think you get to that point where you kind of, you don’t know what’s going on, you know, just like the guy in the bin bags, you don’t know whether you’re having, going to have sex or you don’t have sex, you know, you just get into such a mess, I think that’s where I get to that point like I say it’s like ‘what is the point?’ because if I’d have gone out and had a few drinks and kind of gone back with this girl I would have had a much nicer time that waking up in the morning and thinking ‘what happened last night?’ you know? And remembering the girl’s name [laughs].
 
[Laughs].
 
It’s not, it’s not a good experience I don’t think it’s something you can kind of (a) be proud of or (b) kind of say you enjoyed it.
 
Alcohol can affect people in a number of ways that could put themselves or others at risk including becoming:
  • Less inhibited
  • More likely to take risks
  • Slower in terms of senses, reactions and thought processes
 
These effects can make people more likely to:
  • Have sex that they later regretted
  • To get injured (in road accidents for example)
  • To get into arguments or fights or to become more vulnerable to attacks
  • To take other personal risks (drug-taking for example) that they wouldn’t when sober.

Young people also talked about the importance of looking after one another when drinking.
 
Sex whilst drunk
Young women talked about the risks involved in having sex when they had been drinking alcohol. This could include having sex without a condom, having sex with a complete stranger and/or sex that they later regretted. Lauren’s friend got pregnant after having unprotected sex when she was drunk and ended up having an abortion. Jamie pointed out that young men are also at risk when they have sex with someone they don’t know.
 

Leah got pregnant after having sex whilst drunk.

Leah got pregnant after having sex whilst drunk.

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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What happened was for the past year or so I have been going to town, out clubbing and stuff like that, I spend the night out, most of the time to be fair when I go out I don’t end up waking up in my own bed. I know it sounds really bad [laughs] but it’s just the whole alcohol thing, I get to the point where I am so drunk I don’t know what I am doing, or where I am going, or where I am, and now I know I have let my limits, like I went out on Saturday, I got drunk, but I’m, I was drunk to the point where I could get myself home and do stuff, usually I would get so drunk, and I have had my drinks spiked a couple of times. When I fell pregnant it was a one night stand with a boy I knew, and we went back to his, he was a lot more drunker than me but I was still very drunk, and, I don’t know why I did it, it just didn’t click in my head that I would be pregnant, I didn’t think I would get pregnant because it hadn’t have happened before.
 
And says to me now, “I haven’t got a child.” The whole reason why I would say be careful is because girls who drink will get themselves in a situation where they might not be strong enough to cope, a bit like I wasn’t, I got myself pregnant through drinking I didn’t know what I was doing, and I found out I was pregnant and when I [slight laugh] found out I went out and got absolutely trolleyed, I went into town and got absolutely out of my face, and I did that was my way of coping with it I buried my head in the sand, and I did that until my, I did that until I was about two months, then I went to the Doctors at about nine weeks or something like that, it was about eight weeks, and they said to me, “What do you want to do?” And I said, “I need to get rid of it because I can’t, none of my family will know, I haven’t got a place to live.” I went to an Abortion Clinic, they put the tablets in front of me, I couldn’t do it, so from that point onwards I got a Teenage Support Worker involved, she was offering me all these places to go and stuff like that. I didn’t answer my phone to nobody, I didn’t talk to nobody, I kept my head in the sand and I didn’t know what to do.
 
 

Michelle lost her virginity when she’d had too much to drink. She was disappointed that it happened in the way it did.

Michelle lost her virginity when she’d had too much to drink. She was disappointed that it happened in the way it did.

Age at interview: 26
Sex: Female
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Yeah I actually lost my virginity when I was under the influence of alcohol, it wasn’t very classy, I was outside [slight laugh] in a field , you know, it wasn’t very, it was a, it was something spontaneous, it wasn’t like I had really planned to do it, the amount of alcohol I had drunk it just worked with that and, things ended up not going the way I had planned.
 
And how old were you then?
 
I must have been about fourteen and a half.
 
Okay, and this wasn’t with a boyfriend or?
 
Well he was, he was kind of like my first boyfriend, well no I had had a boyfriend before that but I had never done anything with him and so this had been the first boyfriend that I had had where I had been sexually active.
 
And how you felt afterwards?
 

Disappointed, I remember it at the time I thought‘oh this was not, not how it should be’ and, it actually made me feel quite sad and like I say like I started to get a bit of a reputation and then if I would go to school people would know about it like through different boys or different people they know, because I went to a girls school, we obviously used to break out of the girls school to go and see the boys at like the schools nearby and stuff and, it’s, it just, it’s all turned quite sour in, like after I lost my virginity because, you know, before then everyone’s really nice to you, everyone’s like sort of kind of got a bit of respect for you, although they haven’t because they are help, you know they are helping you drink and they are helping you take drugs and you are, you are a lot younger than them, they haven’t in a responsible kind of way, but it did it got a lot, my sort of relationships got a lot worse after I lost my virginity because it was like these people that was hanging around they didn’t have, you know, the boyfriend had turned, all of a sudden, you know, he was out the next night with another girl doing it, the same, and, whereas he had not been like that before and, just, yeah just general sort of, depression at school for everyone knowing about it and having a reputation that early and being called names that early it’s quite adifficult thing to get to move on from. 

 

Jamie says a young man who gets drunk and has sex with a stranger risks getting a girl pregnant or sleeping with someone under-age.

Jamie says a young man who gets drunk and has sex with a stranger risks getting a girl pregnant or sleeping with someone under-age.

Age at interview: 26
Sex: Male
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And my point it is precisely that, that the risk cannot be just for girls but also for young lads.
 
He’s going to be on the Sex Offenders Register through no mistake, in my eyes, of his own, other than I, I mean, you know, you’re drunk, you find her attractive, are you going to say, “Can I see your driving licence? Can I see your passport? Prove to me you’re eighteen.” At what point does the liability end? So I don’t think it’s fair on these young lads kind ofbeing put in that situation.
 
And like you say it’s a massive risk with potentially life changing kind of consequences, what if he’s a twenty-one year old Student Teacher? He’s not going to be able to work with children again is he because he’s got, he would be on the Sex Offenders Register?
 
Were you thinking about those things when you were in Ibiza?
 
Course not [laughs], course you’re not, you don’t do it until, until you get to that age where you start reflecting, you know, when people start getting married and, you know, having children, it’s at that point in your life where you start thinking back on things, and you know and reflecting on things.
 
And I thinkthe questions aren’t asked as well like, you know, you don’t question, who asks you these kind of questions when you’re that age? Nobody, no-one’s there saying, “Well what happens if this scenario happens?” Because you don’t care, you’re there, you’re having fun, you’re getting drunk, and you know, you’re taking a girl back home, you know, you don’t think of ‘well what if she was fifteen?’ you know?
 

Or what if she got pregnant? And these are the, all the things that they don’t seem to think about. 

Getting injured when drunk
Under the influence of alcohol or drugs, people can lose (or reduce) their balance, awareness and judgement.
 

Jamie had a wild week in Ibiza after his A levels with a group of friends. He's amazed that they did not sustain more serious injuries.

Jamie had a wild week in Ibiza after his A levels with a group of friends. He's amazed that they did not sustain more serious injuries.

Age at interview: 26
Sex: Male
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I know, for a risky situation friends, there was eight of us, we went to Ibiza, we finished our A Levels I think it was, and, eight of us all went to Ibiza, and in those six days I’ve never seen more danger, risk taking, absolute mayhem because, the environment, the culture and everything out there was set up for drinking so we all did it and to great kind of lengths, there was a friend of ours found in a pile of dustbin bags, virtually unconscious, not through any attack or anything like that just his sheer amount of alcohol he’d consumed and he was, and there were a lot of for the Spanish in Ibiza a lot of the Spanish gents all stood around him, and you know, whether their intentions were to be good or bad we don’t know, but a couple of our friends that saw what was going on and kind of shooed them away, and virtually kind of rescued him to kind of take him back to the hotel where we could kind of sleep it off kind of thing. But I mean that situation when you look back it’s like well what could have been, you know, he could have, stolen all his possessions, maybe beat him up if they wanted to, and there was nothing he could do about it because of the sheer mess he was in from the amount of alcohol he’d drank. So I mean, and I had the exactly the same on the first night where we’d gone out and in one night I spent a hundred and twenty pounds, now I don’t know what on, how much alcohol, who I’d been buying drinks or what, but all I know was there wasn’t much of my memory they were just snaps, I’ve got snapshots of the whole evening, but at one stage I was, I was just walking down the backstreets of Ibiza looking around and I was just like, I’m in a bad place here, but the next thing I remember, again from the next day, looking back on it, was the next thing I remember was getting back to the hotel, seeing a friend and going back up to the room like and that was it so, I was in such a state that I had only got snapshots of the evening so whilst I’ve kind of think ‘oh I’ve spent a hundred and twenty pounds on alcohol’ it could have been I spent sixty and sixty pound got robbed from me I don’t remember, you know, because of how drunk I was.
 
Okay so that was your experience of heavy drinking? [Slight laugh].
 

Yeah that week, that one week there were, there were a lot of people being ill, one of our friends fell down steps in a club and smashed his tooth out, one of his front teeth out, there were lots of those kind of scenarios happening where people were not in a good way through alcohol. 

Roads can be particularly dangerous for people who have been drinking, or are high. Bekky‘s friend got run over after going out drinking on their 18th birthday.
 
Ben knows people who drive when they’ve been drinking. He has cycled when he’s been drinking but wouldn’t drive because his father has always been very strict about drink driving. Raphael told us that he’s been drunk enough to fall over but would never drive when drunk because he is ‘not a risk taker with other people’s lives.’
 

Emma knew a girl who died as a result of a tragic drink driving incident.

Emma knew a girl who died as a result of a tragic drink driving incident.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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Well, you know, just drinking too much, you know you’re just, you’re sick, it’s, that’s just nasty, and even if it’s not you and it’s a friend, it’s just you don’t like seeing your friends like that and it’s worrying, and you don’t know if you want to go to hospital with them, I mean I’ve had friends that have been, when we were fifteen, they’ve gone to hospital to have their stomach pumped and, I know [laughs], it’s, and it’s, it’s not fun, and it’s nothing to do with bad, well, you know, I would say personally being on this side of it, it doesn’t seem to be anyone in particular due to bad parenting or, you know, anything like that, it’s just, the culture of it at the moment, the culture of being a young person is this, this, this drinking and this, you know, joining in and you know if you do it sensibly, I don’t necessarily think that it’s a terrible thing, but it’s just that, I think it’s not sensible, a few too many times and there’s been a few too many people in the corner of the club throwing up and, yeah you do worry about your friends because if they take it too far it’s, you know, it’s not, it’s not nice so it’s quite scary because you don’t know what’s going to happen to them, really.
 
I’ve been unlucky enough to know someone that was in a car accident because of drinking and if, a girl was killed in fact so, as a, like, as a young, she wasn’t a close friend but I know people that were very, very close to the girl that was killed and, it’s not something you want anyone to go through, at all, and you can’t help but think, I mean to be honest she should, she was drinking and driving you know that’s not, everyone knows that it’s not okay, so, it’s difficult when it gets to the other extreme things can go very wrong and it’s just tragic, absolutely tragic .
 
Getting attacked or fighting whilst drunk
Young people were concerned that being extremely drunk could make them likely to become the target of an attack or mugging. The danger of getting into a fight, or having to deal with other people’s aggressive behaviour was mentioned by several of the young people we talked to. Lauren felt ashamed to admit that she had got into a fight when she was drunk on vodka as a teenager. The police had given her a caution and told her parents. Lauren had concluded that vodka makes her violent and wine makes her sleepy, so she has decided to stick to lager which just makes her feel happy. Peter and Daniel, who had both realised they had a problem with alcohol, said that anything could have happened while they were drunk and out of control.
 

Peter got very drunk and ended up in trouble with the police after he got into an argument, involving an air rifle, with some neighbours.

Peter got very drunk and ended up in trouble with the police after he got into an argument, involving an air rifle, with some neighbours.

Age at interview: 27
Sex: Male
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So we’d been drinking continuous since about midday about 12 o’clock. We went on a coach so we were given alcohol as soon as we got on the coach and then it was a free bar all day at the races. I think. No it wasn’t that day. Well I did a few bets and things like that at the races but then we arrived back to city. Went, continued drinking at a bar and then a friend called, a mutual friend of mine and someone else who I was working with and we decided we’d go back to my place. We were going to smoke some cannabis and we were going to play some video games. Now one of my friends actually, the guy at, my colleague actually at the time he got a call from a girl who wanted him to go visit her. So he went to see her and me and the other guy set off in a taxi. And then we arrived where I lived at the time and we got out. And then for whatever reason I, this, this bit I can’t, I can’t actually remember but for some reason anyway I got into an argument with one of the neighbours.
 
And then I went in the house anyway and the, the friend of mine who I’d met at the time he was a lot younger than me, he was probably about 4 years younger than me so I was about 22. He was maybe about 18. Now he I had an air rifle and he always wanted to play with it. A lot of the younger guys who came around they wanted to play with it. I don’t know maybe a bit excited by it. I mean. And then he was pointing out of the door which, not. Under the influence of alcohol. If I wasn’t under the influence of alcohol I would never let someone point an air rifle out of my door. I’m not that sort of irresponsible sort of. But the neighbour who I’d previously argued with thought that he was trying to shoot their windows. So further arguments ensued at which point It ended for whatever reason. And I’d gone in the house but then for whatever reason those neighbours that I’d argued with had called some friends or actually one of the neighbour’s parents. So there was six guys at my door and they were trying to kick the door in. I lived in a back-to-back house. I couldn’t go out of the back so I picked up a weapon and chased them off, an iron bar. At which point the police had already been phoned because of the earlier commotion. Police came into the street. I had an iron bar in my hands. That’s an offensive weapons charge.
 
Ok so when it happened you were taken to the police station?
 
Yeah, yeah I was in the police station for the next 18 hours.
 
And charged with?
 
Yeah I was charged with offensive weapons.
 
Do you had to go to court and?
 

R'  Yeah, yeah. 

 

Leah thinks that her personality changes when she has been drinking – she becomes more aggressive...

Leah thinks that her personality changes when she has been drinking – she becomes more aggressive...

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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Just that it ruin, it, like I said it, it causes more problems I think than what you are in, if you drink you are going to, it is going to cause more problems because if you are drinking, like I said, you are either going to argue with someone when you are out, or you might have an argument with your friend, or your family over something and because when you drink it changes everybody’s personality, when someone is drinking they are a different person to what they are when they are sober I think, in my opinion.
 
And how you change?
 
I change, I go more, I am quite a loud person anyway but I go even louder, I am more outspoken then. , I am a bit more confident in myself, and, I am, I don’t, I don’t actually know how I would describe myself how I change, I think you would have to ask someone else that. But I can see personally I change into a bit of a, promiscuous girl I think and that’s not good, that’s why I don’t like drinking [slight laugh].
 
I can become aggressive yeah, when I am, I am gobby when I am drinking, if someone says something to me I will, I will rare back at someone when I am sober but it might be someone that when I am sober I won’t rare to, but if I have had a few drinks in me I will quite happily, do you know what I mean? Have a go at them. 
 
 

Stefanie’s friend makes ‘very bad decisions’ when she is drunk and was once attacked by some other girls.

Stefanie’s friend makes ‘very bad decisions’ when she is drunk and was once attacked by some other girls.

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Female
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I’ve also my judgement’s been off and I’ve got in cars more than once with people who have been drinking and not realised or not been aware or thought about it because it’s not me doing the driving. I’d not really thought about this other person who is taking me home who, has also been drinking. I’ve been horrified the next day to find out that they have but I’ve never thought to ask. I’ve also cycled into a cobweb and fallen off my bike because my judgement obviously wasn’t quite there and as I hit the cobweb I reacted and damaged all my arm, really hurt my arm. So the classic drunken antics that people get up to. And I have a weak ankle that sometimes likes to give way if I’ve had too much to drink [ha].
 
Were you sort of drinking within a group of people that you knew well or?
 
I’ve yeah, I’ve never gone out or gone away with people I don’t know. I have a friend who she often makes very bad decisions when she’s been drinking. And she doesn’t eat a lot either so she drinks, gets drunk very quickly and there are times when she has been attacked in the street when she’s been on her own. And that’s not just men, she was attacked once by two girls that had a vendetta of some kind against her. She’s been mugged several times because she goes around on her own in London. And will not listen to any advice but she just continues to put herself at risk. She, she’s lucky that nothing more serious has happened to her.
 
Women were particularly aware of the risk of being sexually assaulted when they were drunk. Some of the girls we talked to had been assaulted themselves. Young women were also concerned about their drinks being spiked in nightclubs. They took various precautions such as leaving someone to watch the drinks when they were dancing.
 

One of Mary Ann’s friends was raped in a park when they had all been drinking heavily, at the age...

One of Mary Ann’s friends was raped in a park when they had all been drinking heavily, at the age...

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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I always drink to get paralytic, I never drink just to have a, I always have to get completely and utterly para, like to the point where I can’t remember stuff and I’ve done, put, I’ve ended up in dangerous situations when I was younger either as in talking to men, one of my friends was raped oh I can’t say the place, but one of my friends actually raped, we was all at this park, and we was all para, we was thirteen and fourteen, age group was, and she, we all ended up obviously splitting up and this place where we was is well known for rapes and everything else, so what the hell? Now I would never even step foot near there, do you know what I mean? Let alone walk there when we was out on this park up until about eleven, twelve at night, and we all ended up splitting up and my friend walked off, absolutely para, she was in a short skirt and a man raped her, he took her in a car and he raped her. So that was a very bad experience for all of us because we all kind of felt bad because we was all like we was the last one to see her, and the last people to see her were me and her sister, so obviously you kind of blame yourself for that don’t you? You was like well, if one sentence could have been different she maybe might not have walked off and that might not have happened.
 
How did you feel when your friend was raped?
 
I started crying, and so me, because her sister was with me and her Mum obviously rang her sister and was all, “Well who was the last one, person to be with your sister?” And we was like, “Well it was me and.” Like me and my mate and she was just like, “Well she’s been raped.” And because she’d told her Mum and ran out the house, she didn’t know what to do obviously I know the details in and out and she was quite scared of some of the things that, well I’m not going to go into detail but, how her body was feeling she knew that something was wrong because her bum was hurting basically and she’d woke up and she was kind of having visions of this and that, and she just thought ‘well what the hell’s happened to me?’ do you see what I mean? Obviously if her bum was hurting, she could smell sex it is that dis, one, at the age of thirteen, like I was still a virgin at the age of thirteen as well, do you see what I mean? Like I was still innocence in a sense weren’t I? So to have my friend, that have happened to her and for her to be saying this, because we went to see her, and she was telling us what she, what, she keep, she kept having this flashbacks of, so and then we were just kind of like we started crying we was like all, we kind of felt all bad because we was last people to see her.
 
But did she?
 
But we still didn’t learn our lesson though.
 
Okay. But she was drunk when she was...?
 

[Affirmative noise] paralytic, para, absolutely steaming. 

 

Stephanie didn’t feel at risk walking home on her own at night although she thinks that she and her friends may have been ‘lucky’.

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Stephanie didn’t feel at risk walking home on her own at night although she thinks that she and her friends may have been ‘lucky’.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
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I never felt like I was vulnerable, I never felt, I always, I mean I didn’t, nobody wanted to get drunk and be sick, so as soon as you felt like that was coming you’d think ‘right I better back off’, I always had that switch in my head that would go ‘right no more’ so I was quite self-controlled actually but I did, I would be quite drunk, when I was in the pubs , but I’d be with so many people, there would be a big group of us, some of them would be over eighteen, some of us would be my age so it was, and they were all very nice, we’d all look out for each other so I was actually quite lucky that, well there was no, there was not, it was all very positive, it was not, you know? Yeah.
 
So you didn’t put yourself in a risky situation kind of, risk when you were drunk?
 
No, but saying that I remember a couple of times I would walk home, I mean it would be a twenty minute walk home from town and I didn’t ever feel like that was a problem, I would sometimes, I would sometimes walk home on my own, a lot of the times I would have friends but there would be times where, I wouldn’t do that now, I did then, I would walk home on my own, but I was, I never came to any harm it’s a really nice area, , I was never, I was never at risk but I mean I could have been I suppose I never really thought about that at the time but a few years ago I did think ‘gosh that was quite’ I wouldn’t do that now. I didn’t feel at risk and I wasn’t at risk but I mean there’s, I suppose there was a chance, it was, a young girl, drunk, walking home, you know?
 
I don’t actually, I don’t. Luck, very luckily, very luckily, no I haven’t, I haven’t actually, that sounds quite unlikely but I actually haven’t, yeah I’ve never, like again I think it’s down to the area, it’s down to Edinburgh it is quite a nice city. 
 
No I haven’t had any personal experiences of close friends having that experience only the things I’ve read about really but no not really.
 
Other risks
One of the other consequences of drinking is that people can lose their judgement about how much alcohol and drugs they can handle. Hugh and Alex have only ever taken drugs when they’ve been drinking, they said that they would never take drugs when sober.
 

Alex, Hugh and Ben say that they don’t think about the risks involved in drug-taking when they have been drinking.

Alex, Hugh and Ben say that they don’t think about the risks involved in drug-taking when they have been drinking.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
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Hugh' But I think you’d very rarely take a drug unless you were already drunk and it would be very hard to just be coming in a completely sober state and then take drugs. I don’t think I, I don’t think any one does that.
 
Alex' I, no I’ve
 
Hugh' It would be kind of pretty bizarre experience because you would literally just. It would be horrible actually if anything.
 
Do you have any concerns about kind of what they put into these...?
 
Alex' You see that’s the thing. I’ve never taken it when I’m sober so when you are drunk these concerns don’t cross your mind. I mean if I was completely sober I wouldn’t even consider taking it but when you’re drunk it’s a less bigger deal which is actually in a way more dangerous because there’s a concoction of chemical substances but you don’t really think about that.
 
Ben' Oh yeah when you’re drugged you just tend to think like, ‘Oh what harm can it do. People do it all the time’. Whereas if you’re sober you’re like, you may still think, ‘What harm can it do?’ but it’s like ‘I don’t want to do it.’
 
We have looked at the pros of drinking alcohol and now we can look at the negative side. It gives you a kind of false sense of...
 
Ben' Security
 
...security that you can do drugs. That while you are sober you wouldn’t touch?
 
Ben' Yeah. Definitely 
 

Jamie turned down an offer of cocaine in a club toilet. He was in the RAF and did not want to...

Jamie turned down an offer of cocaine in a club toilet. He was in the RAF and did not want to...

Age at interview: 26
Sex: Male
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So, you have never felt tempted even when offered to try other drugs?
 
Well, as for like the hard drugs , I had an experience when I was in the RAF and I was in the local town having a night out and, you know, it was probably early hours of the morning so by that time I’d had quite a few drinks and I was kind of drunk, and I was, I was in a cubicle and a guy came in and I’m just stood there and it, and like this guy’s come into there, I don’t know how, whether the lock wasn’t working or something, and he came in and he was just like, “Oh.” And he kind of got out some Cocaine, and he was using the back of the toilet for his platform in which to take it and it, “I’m so high do you want some?.” And I was like, “No course not.” You know, (a) it’s on the back of a toilet and obviously, you know, (b) I was in kind of in the RAF which is a more precedenting thing that, you know, my career was on the line if ever I took anything like that. so I was obviously no and kind of dismissed it, but then I walked downstairs to my friends and I said, “Can you believe that, you know, that’s, that’s just happened?.” And now, but I mean I look back now and I reflect on that and I think ‘well what if I wasn’t in the RAF?’ you know, I was drunk kind of, my head’s kind of not really in the right place to be making kind of sensible decisions, so I was kind of like ‘well would I have had I not been in the RAF?’ you know? And I suppose when you, when you look at it like that there’s kids now that maybe aren’t in the RAF and so are, I could maybe see why they fall into that trap and, you know, they’re drunk and having a good time, you, your emotions are high, you’re having fun, why not top it up with someone offering you, you know, some free drugs you know?
 
Looking after each other 
Young people sometimes said that they went out drinking with a group of friends who would all look out for each other. If someone got drunk another person in the group would make sure that they got home safely. Emily and Hugh both said that they go out with friends who they know they can trust. Alex went to a festival with some friends and started drinking at 8 in the morning. By the time the bands came on at 1pm he was completely out of it – he was sick, passed out, missed the whole thing and the day was ruined. He thinks he was lucky that he was with friends who looked after him otherwise he thinks he would have had his phone and money stolen.
 

A taxi driver was kind to Kayleigh when she was drunk and didn’t have enough money to get home.

A taxi driver was kind to Kayleigh when she was drunk and didn’t have enough money to get home.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
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And I remember like I was drinking there and then, then I went home and I got a taxi home, and I was lucky that the taxi driver was a, like a nice guy because I, I wouldn’t say I had passed out but I was, I don’t remember the taxi ride, sort of coming in and out, you know, because when you’re drunk I think you almost fall asleep. And I got to the point where I sort of looked at the meter and I said, “Oh I’m going to have to get out because I don’t have enough money.” But luckily enough like the driver was like, “It doesn’t matter about the money, you know, you’ve got to make sure you get home safe.” And I, that’s I think is quite a rarity because there’s, that at the time I mean being sort of sixteen, seventeen you don’t think about well that taxi driver could have took you anywhere, could have done anything to you, you could have been let out on the street and anything could have happened, because you just think about having the good time, you don’t think about getting home. But lucky enough , you know, I got home safely. 

 

Emma says that boys sometimes get a bit aggressive if they are drunk but that people are usually really kind to a girl who is crying, upset or drunk in a club.

Emma says that boys sometimes get a bit aggressive if they are drunk but that people are usually really kind to a girl who is crying, upset or drunk in a club.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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Okay well I personally am quite a talkative person, and I laugh a lot at anything and everything and I think that’s exaggerated when I’ve been drinking, I’m quite confident but [xxxxx] everyone gets more confident, so I’m talkative, I’m loud, I’m chatty , I think but I mean some of the guys get quite aggressive, or grumpy, or irritating I mean they’re close friends so, yeah love them to bits but some of them do, are very annoying drunk people and in a club guys get more aggressive, a fight can be started very easily and usually everyone else, well I don’t know I’ve never been in a club where I felt particularly uncomfortable or in danger, but I think people are more aggressive and a fight can be started more easily when people have been drinking. And my girlfriends there’s the, there’s the crying drunk person, maybe if they’re have had a hard day or if they’ve just broken up with their boyfriend or whatever it is , they, there will be a girl sitting in the corner of the toilets, the girls toilets crying, in a mess, but then it’s almost, it’s almost really nice because then a girl you’ve never met before, you know, you’ll see her crying and you’ll be like, “Are you okay?.” And everyone’s, you know, being really friendly and nice, there’s this general help each other out attitude if you see someone upset or if you see someone too drunk you, you tend to see people helping them or, you know, you go over and you’re like, “Are you okay? Can I do anything?” people, and depending, [mmm] they will each other out if someone’s really upset everyone gets friendlier so that tends to be okay, the guys get, yeah, guys can get more aggressive but funny, I don’t know it’s just, it depends on the day, it depends on the people you’ve got around, and I just get very talkative and loud [laughs].
See also Problem drinking and alcoholismReasons for cutting down on alcohol and Friends, drugs and alcohol.

Last reviewed: July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.
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