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Joe - Interview 29

Age at interview: 24
Brief Outline: Joe used to drink a lot at parties when he was a teenager. When he moved out of home he started to smoke cannabis regularly. For a time, Joe was going to drum & bass nights regularly where he would often use ecstasy. He has stopped using drugs and drinks alcohol less often because he has become more interested in health and fitness. He goes out to pubs and clubs far less often now.
Background: Joe works in administration. He's single and shares a flat with friends. He is interested in health and fitness, jogs regularly and recently ran a marathon for charity.

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At age fifteen Joe started going to parties with his school friends. At first he didn't drink very much and mostly drank alcopops because he didn’t like the taste of beer. His friends started to tease him for liking ‘girl’s drinks’. He first got drunk at age sixteen when at a friends’ house party. He drank half a bottle of whisky and later felt so bad that put him off alcohol for a few months.
 
He thinks that it is common for young men to drink alcohol to feel more relaxed and confident in social situations - like talking to girls - commonly known as ‘Dutch courage’.
 
When he turned eighteen he felt lot of pressure from male friends to drink beer. Somehow, it was expected that ‘men drink pints’. Joe is not a keen beer drinker but he followed the crowd and had several pints only to feel very sick afterwards!
 
At seventeen, and at a party, Joe tried his first joint. He moved out of his parents' house at nineteen to share a house with friends and started to smoke weed regularly. He enjoyed smoking cannabis but stopped at age twenty after he began to experience episodes of paranoia. Plus he also wanted to stop smoking tobacco. He found giving up cigarettes the hardest. He gave up both substances pretty much on his own with the help of a self-help programme. In his late teens, he started going out to drum & bass nights, and started to use ecstasy. He also tried cocaine and ketamine a few times, but gave it up soon afterwards. He was concerned about the health risks associated with drugs.
 
Joe’s attitude to alcohol has changed. Unlike his teenage years, he orders what he wants to drink rather than have whatever everybody else is drinking. He goes to pubs and clubs less often now and usually only for a special occasion like a birthday or to a gig, instead of going out every weekend. He would probably still drink a lot when out with friends, but he drinks much less frequently than in his teenage years.

Joe lives in Scotland and thinks that the drug and alcohol health awareness campaigns there have had an impact on young people. He is more aware of the health risks associated with them.     

 

Joe thinks young men are expected to get drunk and rowdy.

Joe thinks young men are expected to get drunk and rowdy.

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I think there is, yeah certain, certain times that it certainly applies to guys like I think if you’re going out with the boys it’s always kind of assumed that ‘oh the boys are going to go out and get rowdy’ and yeah so you have to get drunk and you can’t go out have just have a quiet drink with, if there’s a big group of you it’s assumed that you are all going to drink heavily.  
 

When Joe turned 18 his friends expected him to drink beer instead of alcopops, because it’s considered a more ‘manly’ drink.

When Joe turned 18 his friends expected him to drink beer instead of alcopops, because it’s considered a more ‘manly’ drink.

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I remember when, when we turned, when we just turned eighteen and we started coming out of the town that we were in and into, into the City to go to clubs and pubs, there was a lot of pressure from the other boys, again like it had been when I was sixteen to drink beer as opposed to alcopops, when we started going to pubs the pressure was to drink pints, and not spirits and, you know, again it was ‘oh men drink pints’, so they would have six or seven pints on, you know, the course of a night and after two or three I would feel ill, I just, I’m not a massive beer drinker, I prefer to have a, have a spirit and take longer over it than it would if I’d have a pint. But again to follow the crowd I would drink pints and then after four or five I’d be outside being ill, you know and they’d be laughing, and it probably took me a few months of being eighteen and going out frequently to realise that just wasn’t, you know, I was happy to, for them to laugh at me if I ordered a spirit instead, than having a pint and being ill and not enjoying it. So, but I think there’s a lot of peer pressure around that age when you first start going out to fit in with the crowd and fit in with the norm, as opposed to standing out with my alcopop like a, yeah.
 
They would laughed at you?
 
Yeah, and teased and, and joked.
 
Teased?
 
Not in a, never bully as such and force you to have one but, yeah they’d make a comment if you didn’t have one, didn’t have a pint and yeah in a friendly way.
 
Okay,just like, you are not following the rules of the game?
 

Yeah and they’d go, “Oh why are you having a girl’s drink [Joe]?” You know that, just playful kind of banter, but yeah drawing attention to it and making you feel like you probably should have a pint yeah but never bullied to the point where they would pour my drink away and say, you know, “Have a pint instead.” But, yeah they’ve, they’ve made reference to it. 

 

Joe describes an ecstasy comedown' as the drug equivalent of a hangover.

Joe describes an ecstasy comedown' as the drug equivalent of a hangover.

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I had what you, you call the come down the next day where you have the low after the high but, I was aware of that and it didn’t seem that bad to be honest I just felt pretty tired [slight laugh].
 
How did you feel
 
Just, quite lethargic, [sighs], just kind of lower, I wouldn’t say kind of depressed as such or anything but, just, the sort of, the low that you get after the high not necessarily always drug related even, if I do something now there’s adrenaline from doing something that, sports-wise, and get the adrenaline afterwards you always kind of get a low after the, after the buzzand it’s probably more, more low than, yeah, because the drug gives you quite a high, you have quite a low afterwards but, I guess the best way I can kind of describe is almost like similar to being sad, you just feel a bit, sad but, not badly, I was aware that you have the low after the high and someone had explained that to me so, I knew that’s what it was and it, and it was probably only the next day and then the, the following day after I was fine, it just what I’d call the, the drug equivalent of a hangover after you, you’ve got drunk and you have a hangover the next day it’s, I’d say it was the kind of the equivalent from having the ecstasy you have the, have the low the next day just, lie around, eat some food, watch some movies and then, yeah the day after that it’d be back to normal  
 

Joe preferred the taste of alcopops but switched to beer under pressure from his male friends.

Joe preferred the taste of alcopops but switched to beer under pressure from his male friends.

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I suppose, I experimented with alcohol before any drugs when I was round about the age of fifteen, started going to kind of parties with friends around school. , and I had small amounts of alcohol to start with or kind of alcopops, like the, the fruity flavoured ones you know? and would maybe have, you know, four, four of those at a party, some of my friends would, I mean the boys would bring beers and the girls would drink the alcopops but I didn’t like the taste of beer at that age so I, I drank alcopops which then progressed on to beers, mainly out of peer pressure and that the boys were saying, “Oh, you know boys drink beer.” So [sighs] moved on to beers and, yeah then, maybe after a year or so of, of trying that , probably when yeah when I was about sixteen started on spirits, so I tried vodka, and whisky, and yeah stronger, stronger alcohol. had a, had a fairly bad experience at the age of sixteen where I’d drank too much whisky and was, was ill from that, which put me off getting drunk for quite a while but it didn’t stop me from drinking at parties. 
 

Joe says his mates will often have a few drinks to help them feel more confident about talking to girls.

Joe says his mates will often have a few drinks to help them feel more confident about talking to girls.

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Boys tend to drink in order to sort of become more confident with female, with girls?
 
I think, yeah I think it can be, a sort of, yeah like almost, you know, if you’re going out and there’s, if you’re nervous about speaking to someone new, you know like a girl, then yeah you might have a couple just to relax and be a bit more confident, yeah the Dutch courage as they call it yeah, and I think that’s quite, probably quite common amongst, amongst guys, I’ve, I’ve been there myself actually yeah and you know since then, I have been out and there’s, there’s a girl I don’t know and I want to speak to her I’ve had, you know, I’ve had a couple of drinks to think about and build up the courage and, you know, relax a bit more first before, yeah. So I’d say that’s. 
 

A year after Joe started smoking cannabis regularly, he started to experience paranoia.

A year after Joe started smoking cannabis regularly, he started to experience paranoia.

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Yeah, about that. Smoked quite a lot when I was nineteen, once I’d moved out of home and moved into a flat with, with friends, and yeah I could smoke in, well I was, I was smoking in my flat so I hadn’t done that at home, but there I felt I could so, probably had it more frequently and stopped smoking it when I was about nineteen, twenty suppose, yeah must have been about, just about twenty.
 
Why?
 
I started to get Paranoia and I was also smoking cigarettes and I wanted to stop smoking the cigarettes and the, I was getting, yeah I was getting kind of social Paranoia sometimes from, from smoking the, the marijuana, so...
 
So was that affecting your social life that’s what you have told me?
 
Yeah.
 
Yeah?
 
Yeah I think... yeah it probably was.
 
It didn’t stop me from interacting with them I’d still, yeah I’d still go out with them, or whatever, but I would, maybe, yeah we’d, we’d, if we were going out and we’d been drinking in my flat I’d maybe smoke a joint on the way out as well when we were walking to a club it wouldn’t stop me from, probably going out with them but yeah other, other times I’d, I’d say I got Paranoid about my, probably about my health, not social situations, I’d never had, I know there’s quite a lot of stigma attached to it with people being Paranoid about their surroundings which it wasn’t so much for me it was more about, my, like I overreacted to my health so if I got a sore chest I thought I was having like a heart attack yeah, or if I had a headache I thought I had something worse and I suppose it made me a bit of a hyper, hypochondriac but, socially was still fine with my friends, so I kind of wanted to, and I was aware of that so I wanted to stop smoking for that reason, and it took me a while, I had to, I found it difficult to stop when I was still smoking cigarettes so I stopped to, pretty much at the same time [em] which, took a while to, to be able to stop that but.
 
Yeah, so that was when I was about twenty that I, I stopped smoking, and stopped smoking the smoking the marijuana.
 
How easy or how difficult it was to, to stop?
 
It was mainly the smoking the cigarettes that I found the hard part, so I’d cut right back on, on the smoking smoking weed but, while I was still smoking cigarettes I’d sometimes think ‘oh instead of having a cigarette I’ll have a joint because there’s less tobacco in it’. I found it very difficult to, to stop smoking the weed but it, the, while I was still smoking the cigarettes there was always the temptation to smoke the weed and then once I did manage to, to stop smoking the cigarettes it’s easier just to stop smoking the weed altogether, which I wanted to do but at the same time, it was almost habit by then and I was probably, psychologically dependent on it, I wouldn’t say that I was physically addicted, I was to the cigarettes I’d say, but yeah but I’d, I stopped probably after about six months of starting to stop, that I’d try, trying to stop, it took me probably about six months to actually stop it now. 
 

After trying cocaine twice and not experiencing any of the effects associated with it, Joe lost...

After trying cocaine twice and not experiencing any of the effects associated with it, Joe lost...

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Around that time when I had tried ecstasy and I was in that sort of music scene, I had tried cocaine a couple of times which, I didn’t really feel anything from it at all, it just, it didn’t seem to have any effect to be honest , I never tried it by itself I’d only tried it once I’d had ecstasy but I didn’t notice any sort of immediate effects from it and so I only tried it I think two, maybe three times, never again because I just didn’t see the point and it didn’t seem to have any effect on me.
 

Joe describes how his attitude to drinking has changed over time. Now it’s more about occasional socialising.

Joe describes how his attitude to drinking has changed over time. Now it’s more about occasional socialising.

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When we were sixteen we first started having alcohol it was, it was all kind of taboo, it was like ‘oh we’re not supposed to be drinking’ and it was, it was nice to go to the parties, and everyone, would have a few drinks and enjoy it, and then when we turned eighteen it was like ‘oh we’re allowed out now, we’re allowed into clubs and pubs’ so we’d go out kind of most weekends , go into all the different clubs in the City and having, yeah getting quite drunk because you can. you know you can legally go in the place and have sixteen pints [slight laugh] if you, if you wanted to, so I think there was a lot of kind of, excitement about being, being allowed to do that at that age, , and as time’s gone on from that probably it became less frequent, we’d, we’d just start going out just once a month and, you know, as opposed to every, every kind of weekend, and the, it would be more a special occasion not just let’s go out and get drunk for the sake of getting drunk because we can it, more it would be oh there’s a good DJ playing or, you know, there’s a good band playing let’s go see them and get drunk. and definitely as, as, as year on year goes on you, you, I don’t really go and get drunk for the sake of getting drunk anymore, and you know I’ll, I’m happy to have a drink but I’d more in, it’s more for the social side than the sake of getting drunk so, definitely happens less often now than it, than it used to.
 

Joe talks about the alcohol awareness campaign in Scotland and how it changed his attitude to...

Joe talks about the alcohol awareness campaign in Scotland and how it changed his attitude to...

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Are you aware of the long term effect of drinking high levels of alcohol?
 
Yes, I think it’s something that’s brought up in the media quite a lot, particularly in Scotland, Scotland’s got quite a, quite a bad reputation for, for yeah alcohol abuse, it’s one of the, one of the main strains on the health service in Scotland I think is alcoholism, or high levels yeah so, yeah I’m aware, I’m aware of it it’s, I think it’s a bigger problem in the west coast of Scotland than the east coast so, and I can’t say any of my family have got, yes have a problem kind of alcohol problems so not directly, I’ve, I’ve not been involved in it but again from the media I’m aware of the, yeah the long term implications of yeah alcohol abuse.
 
And do you think the health information put forward in Scotland by the Government or the health service, has had any influence on you, on your behaviour, on your attitude to alcohol?
 
Yeah probably the, they have a campaign aimed at sort of my age group I’d say, I remember they had posters, probably about two years ago which, they, the message hit you pretty hard and it was, they had adverts on tv as well actually but it’s, it seemed mainly targeted at the youth binge drinking sort of culture, you know, where do you draw the line? Where’s too much? And it would have... have [sighs] they were, they were good adverts and then they’d have posters that would remind you of the TV adverts but it was basically showing the same person on the same night out and two different paths they could take, one was having too much to drink and falling over the pavement and falling out the taxi, and losing their, their wallet or their bag and being sick and losing shoes and just what, yeah what can be associated with someone who’s had too muchalcohol and then one, someone who’s not had too much but still had a, they’ve still had a few, had a good time but been responsible, and then they’d have these posters on the bus stops sort of just like, like someone lying in the gutter, sick in their hair and just, like I say like a shoe missing sort of thing.
 
I’d, I’m trying to remember, what the, what the main catchphrase was but it had Drink Aware at the bottomyou know? and they were pretty vivid pictures, I remember that being quite a good campaign which made you think about, yeah it made you think about how much you’d have when you’re on a night out and, maybe if you were tempted to like get carried away and keep drinking, you know it made you stop and think 
 

Joe mainly smoked cannabis at age nineteen after he moved out of his parents’ house. He said that...

Joe mainly smoked cannabis at age nineteen after he moved out of his parents’ house. He said that...

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I think it was probably just a few weeks later we were at a party and they were having, having a joint and I got involved, and went on and smoked that with them after having a couple of beers, and like a few, a few drinks, not many, but just maybe three or four bottles , yeah we smoked, smoked cannabis , which I enjoyed , and I think over the next couple of years I probably smoked more than I drunk I think, I’d smoke, cannabis during the week at, like have a, have a, have a joint at night whereas I wouldn’t have a drink, so I think, personally yeah I was, I had more experience with that at that age than, than alcohol probably over the...
 
So between the ages of... sorry, between the ages of seventeen and nineteen?
 
Yeah, about that. Smoked quite a lot when I was nineteen, once I’d moved out of home and moved into a flat with, with friends, and yeah I could smoke in, well I was smoking in my flat so I hadn’t done that at home, but there I felt I could so, probably had it more frequently and stopped smoking it when I was about nineteen, twenty suppose, yeah must have been about, just about twenty . 
 

Joe felt 'pretty rubbish' after using ecstasy, alcohol and ketamine. He was never tempted to try ketamine again.

Joe felt 'pretty rubbish' after using ecstasy, alcohol and ketamine. He was never tempted to try ketamine again.

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I once tried ketamine which is a horse tranquiliser , at a party, again when I’d had, I was definitely, I think yeah, I had some ecstasy although that had, I hadn’t had much I think I’d had like, a bit, quite a bit earlier on and it had kind of worn off, plus I’d had a few drinks but yes someone recommended that I tried it and I thought ‘well I’ll give it a shot’ [slight laugh] didn’t enjoy it just felt very sick, very nauseous, just yeah I, I think it just didn’t mix very well with either myself or, on the culmination of, yeah the fact that I had already had ecstasy and alcohol, felt a bit sick, was ill and then lay down, yeah went to sleep and kind of slept it off just felt pretty rubbish I never tried it again after that so.
 

Some people will try drugs and alcohol anyway so Joe thinks it’s important to be open so that young people have all of the information.

Some people will try drugs and alcohol anyway so Joe thinks it’s important to be open so that young people have all of the information.

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I think there needs to be, I mean they advise you that, a lot of the bad, points, you know, they, they give you the concerns about health and drug overdose and alcohol abuse and, but I think they need to realise and, and voice to the fact that young people, a lot of people do still try these things, you know there’s, and people are always, there’s always going to be some people who want to and will, and I think they should acknowledge that and say, “Okay here’s all the bad things, but if you still want to do it, if you’ve got any questions, you know, ask this person or, you know, if you, if you’ve.” I think there needs to be more, a bit more open about the fact that people will still want to do it and not just go on about the bad points because, you know, give, give the, give the arguments against them, you know the, tell people about the bad points, the negatives of it but also say, “But if you’re still going to do it then, yeah if you’ve got any questions then you can speak to your Doctor or you can go to this website and, you know, if, if there’s anything you’re unsure about.” Ask, it’s not just that yeah you shouldn’t do it, don’t do it.” 
 
Yeah I think they just need to maybe, provide more of a, yeah more services to, for people to access yeah it’s, they’ve got or if they want to stop, whether they want to talk about it or they’ve just got questions on it without being told, yeah the, just the bad sides if they’ve got questions about it then they should be able to be, ask that quite openly I think without worrying about being scolded for doing it.
 
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