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Stefanie - Interview 27

Age at interview: 24
Brief Outline: As a teenager, Stefanie worked in a pub where she drank a lot. In her teens, Stefanie tried cannabis once and it doesn't seem to have had any effect on her. She has never been interested in experimenting with illegal drugs. Stefanie doesn't smoke cigarettes either but alcohol is an important part of her life.
Background: Stefanie lives with her partner and works full time in the film and television industry. She felt a lot of pressure from others in school to take drugs, but has always avoided it. At school she was warned against drugs but not alcohol. Ethnic background: White British.

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Stefanie grew up with parents who allowed her to have the occasional drink, usually for special occasions. By fifteen she was into drinking, and at sixteen she would go to the pub with her friends. At eighteen, she started working in the pub and began to drink a lot with the owners. When she moved to London, she started to drink even more. She said that she was warned against drugs at school, but not alcohol. As she was allowed to drink wine occasionally with family as a teenager, she hadn’t realised how bad it could be until she started to get some bad hangovers. 
 
Stefanie tried cannabis once when she was younger and it seemed to have no effect on her. She considers herself quite a strong-willed person and won’t do anything she doesn’t want to.
 
She felt pressure from others in school to take drugs, but has always avoided it. She has continued to avoid taking drugs even while at college and university, and working in film and television. She says that she avoids using drugs out of respect for her parents, and because she wants to keep herself healthy.
 
She says that when she was younger, she would drink until she became ill, which affected everything. She didn’t really understand how deadly alcohol could be, and thought that drinking was just fun. Now Stefanie drinks less because she has a full time job, works long hours and gets paid monthly so has to budget her money. Alcohol is still an important part of Stefanie's life, though, and sometimes she drinks with her partner after work to unwind. She would tell other young people to ‘just know when you’ve hit your limit and try not to mix your drinks too heavily’. 

  

 

In school, Stefanie was called a ‘wuss’ for not trying illegal drugs. But she is a strong-willed person and feels glad not to have given in to peer pressure.

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In school, Stefanie was called a ‘wuss’ for not trying illegal drugs. But she is a strong-willed person and feels glad not to have given in to peer pressure.

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What do you think has sort of helped you to avoid taking drugs?
 
I just. I’ve always had a healthy respect for my parents. And I knew that they would be disappointed. I know it doesn’t stop many people.
 
The other thing is I’ve always been quite a strong-willed person. It was never anything I wanted to do. But it’s tough it has, there have been times when I felt a lot of peer pressure about it when I, especially when I was at not college but school definitely.
 
Yeah?
 
People offering you?
 
Yeah and they make jokes about you being a bit of a wuss. And you do feel a bit like the square sometimes but I am so pleased now. I don’t regret not doing it at all.
 
So it never interested you and you were not sort of curious about it or anything like that?
 
I think mostly because I found people very tedious who did it a lot. I found them bad conversationalists and a bit thick. And I just didn’t want to. I got fed up when I was at college of the same conversation about 80s cartoons again and again. Like people would just sit in a circle on the field and talk about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for an hour because they were just high. And I just did not want to be part of that. So I would just go off and do my own thing.
 
Ok but you said that sort of peer pressure sometimes can be hard?
 
Yeah. You do feel a bit like the loner. And also people don’t realise that you’re. I’ve got a friend who he is very, very much against it. And his close group of friends are all heavily involved in substances that are stronger than cannabis. And he is often ridiculed in a friendly way and he’s quite strong willed so it doesn’t affect him but I can see how people can fall off the wagon like that, if you know what I mean.
 
Did you [pause] sort of kind of loose friends because of your attitude of not doing drugs when you were at school?
 
No not at all.
 
No?
 

No. My real friends if they ever were doing it they never, like my close friends would never judge me for it. It tended to be groups of people at parties who I was not that close friends with that would. And if people are going to ridicule you for that then they’re really not the kind of friends you want to be hanging around with because it’s your, your body. It’s your decision on what you do to it. 

 

Stefanie says that information about drugs was good in school but no one discussed alcohol with them.

Stefanie says that information about drugs was good in school but no one discussed alcohol with them.

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But I have an interesting point I’d like to say about wine that I feel is something I don’t think people realise. When I was younger at school they talked about. My education they talked about drugs really well and it was around the time that a couple of girls had died of Ecstasy in clubs so they were very, very hot on talking about that but no one really ever told us about alcohol. 
 
I don’t know what it’s like now because I imagine people, the government has put in a lot more effort into alcohol nowadays. But when I was 15 alcohol is something I see my parents do all the time. I was allowed a glass of wine at a wedding. And I genuinely had no idea how alcoholic wine was because in my childlike understanding I was allowed wine at a wedding therefore it mustn’t be so bad. It was only when I started to get some pretty bad hangovers I realised how bad wine, how alcoholic wine is.
 
 

Growing up, Stefanie was allowed to drink a small amount on special family occasions. She started drinking with friends at the age of 15 or 16 and describes herself as a 'sensible drinker'.

Growing up, Stefanie was allowed to drink a small amount on special family occasions. She started drinking with friends at the age of 15 or 16 and describes herself as a 'sensible drinker'.

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I was, it was never a big thing in my house that children shouldn’t drink. I mean, of course, I wasn’t given a bottle of vodka but you were always allowed a little stubby beer at Christmas or a glass of wine if you had been good on a special occasion like a wedding or my mum’s a massive football fan so if Chelsea were playing she would let me have a, [ha] a little, one of those little French, terrible French stubby beers.
 
I got into drinking when I was about 15/16. I think maybe even a bit younger. When by then I already thought I was grown up and an adult and I knew everything there was to know about the world. And I used to, because my mum was very strict about when I left the house so I used to do an amateur dramatics club once a week but I told her it was twice a week when I was 16. So that I could go to the pub with my friends. But we were always very sensible drinkers. We would do it socially and I didn’t binge too much back then.  
 

Stefanie drinks less heavily now compared to when she was younger.

Stefanie drinks less heavily now compared to when she was younger.

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Once you have more bills and someone to share your life with I think the urge to go out every day with your friends and get drunk just dissipates and you don’t have that any more. 
 
And also as you mature I think genuinely it doesn’t seem as important to get drunk. You can enjoy yourself just as much having a few, if not more, because you can remember what happened. I remember being to the cinema once drunk and not remembering the film at all which is entirely pointless. But I go to theatre, have a couple of wines then it’s quite good.
 
 

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.

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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.
 
 

Stefanie says ‘know your limit’.

Stefanie says ‘know your limit’.

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I can’t give the advice the government would want me to give. That’s for sure because I, it’s a big part of my world is having a drink and using it to unwind. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. And I don’t like the growing pressure that is on people for it and the guilt. But I would say, ‘Just know when you’ve hit your limit’. But my biggest trouble when I was younger was that I would drink until I got ill and that has an adverse effect on everything. Education when you don’t go in, work when they have to send you home and that’s happened to me several times. And it’s, it’s not good and it doesn’t feel good and you say every time, the cliché that you won’t do it again but you do. And I would just say, just know your limit and try not to mix your drinks too heavily. And they say have a pint of water in between each drink. Apparently that’s a good idea but I’ve never tried it.
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