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Alex - Interview 24

Age at interview: 20
Brief Outline: Alex drinks several nights a week with friends, and occasionally takes drugs under the influence of alcohol. He knows a lot of people who take drugs regularly, especially marijuana (cannabis). He avoids cannabis because he had a bad experience with it when he was about fifteen.
Background: Alex is a first year university student. He drank as a teenager to build his confidence. He found that his drinking habits changed when he started at university.

More about me...

Alex drank as a teenager and his parents didn’t mind as long as it wasn’t in excess. When he was about fifteen, there were times that his mother worried that he was drinking too much. He had suffered from depression and anxiety during adolescence, and used alcohol to build up his confidence. He is still on medication, although he isn’t supposed to drink when he is on his meds.
 
He says that drinking patterns change when you go to university. You’re away from home, living independently, and with more freedom. You don’t have to worry about drinking and going home to your family. He drinks every other night and usually with a group of friends.
 
He and his friends often have fun doing drinking games, where a lot of alcohol is drunk. Alex has never been a regular drug user, but he very occasionally takes cocaine or MDMA when offered it at a friend’s house or at a night club. He knows a lot of people who take drugs regularly, especially cannabis. He avoids cannabis now because he had a bad experience with it when he was about fifteen. Nearly every time he has taken drugs, it has been under the influence of alcohol. He says that he probably would be less likely to take drugs when sober. He thinks that he has enough bad habits already, and would rather not get a drug habit in future.  
 

Alex received treatment for anxiety in his teens and felt very paranoid, on one occasion, after a few puffs on a joint. He avoids using cannabis now.

Alex received treatment for anxiety in his teens and felt very paranoid, on one occasion, after a few puffs on a joint. He avoids using cannabis now.

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Last time we talked you mentioned something about the effect of marijuana that you did not like? Can you tell me more about that?
 
I think, I think that might have something to do with the fact that, the sort of mental state I was in at the time sort of struggling with anxiety issues and stuff. But I mean I had smoked marijuana before this occasion where I reacted badly to it and, you know, hadn’t had, didn’t have a particularly strong effect on me. But there was this one time I think I was 15 and or 16 in sort of [Name] Park someone was passing around a joint and, you know, I had a couple of draws on it and I got intensely sort of very intensely paranoid and like sort of to the point where I couldn’t really speak and I was sick and I didn’t. Sort of since then I remember sort of going home and sort of having sort of mental battle with myself or just feeling very intensely sort of paranoid and worried. And sort of since then I was always much more cautious about smoking marijuana and it’s something that I sort of don’t really do now.
 
And I know people who have, you know, have had similar experiences with marijuana, sort of had similar effects on them.
 

Alex has a relative who has a heroin addiction and he said he would never consider using it because he is aware of how dangerous and addictive heroin is.

Alex has a relative who has a heroin addiction and he said he would never consider using it because he is aware of how dangerous and addictive heroin is.

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So have you tried heroin?
 
No. I wouldn’t.
 
You wouldn’t?
 
No.
 
Why not?
 
I know how dangerous it is really.
 
In which way dangerous?
 
I now sort of... but being so highly addictive sort of risk of death, overdosing. I’ve actually got a sort of second cousin who went to the Priory who was addicted to heroin and then she had a pretty awful time. And just generally, you know, it’s just something I wouldn’t even consider.
 
So you saw her when she was?
 
No, no I didn’t see. I was quite young at the time but she’s, she’s well now but, you know from what I heard, it was a pretty awful time for her. 
 

Alex would never consider using heroin. One of his cousins was treated for heroin addiction.

Alex would never consider using heroin. One of his cousins was treated for heroin addiction.

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Have you tried heroin?
 
No. I wouldn’t.
 
You wouldn’t?
 
No.
 
Why not?
 
I know how dangerous it is really.
 
In which way dangerous?
 
I now sort of... but being so highly addictive sort of risk of death, overdosing. I’ve actually got a sort of second cousin who went to the Priory who was addicted to heroin and then she had a pretty awful time. And just generally, you know, it’s just something I wouldn’t even consider.
 
So you saw her when she was?
 
No, no I didn’t see. I was quite young at the time but she’s well now but, you know from what I heard, it was a pretty awful time for her. 
 

Alex is worried about a friend his age who is having health problems from using ketamine.

Alex is worried about a friend his age who is having health problems from using ketamine.

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I know my old friend who takes a lot of ketamine very regularly I mean I’d say she’s probably addicted and she’s sort of having health problems because of it. I think she is getting stomach ulcers and stuff from sort of snorting so much of this drug which is, you know, it is quite concerning at her age.
 
And she is your age?
 
Yeah. 
 
Yeah it is. Has she reported it, has she talked to someone about it?
 
Yeah she’s been to the doctor but I mean I don’t know whether it will stop her from taking, taking it.
 
So how often does she take it?
 
I don’t, I haven’t seen her in a while actually. She’s at uni in [place] but I mean. I, possibly every day, yeah.
 
Seeing people who are developing sort of either physical problems does it sort of put you off?
 
Yeah definitely.
 
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