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Stephanie - Interview 33

Age at interview: 23
Brief Outline: In her teens, Stephanie would drink a lot and smoke cannabis with friends. She had concerns about short-term memory loss and cannabis smoking so asked her GP for medical advice. She stopped smoking cannabis four years ago and feels that her memory, energy levels and motivation have all improved.
Background: Stephanie has a partner and goes to college part time. Shewants to get a qualification in counselling. She thinks that many people drink for the 'wrong' reasons like getting over a breaking up, or trying to forget a problem. Ethnic background: White British

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Stephanie first tried alcohol at about fourteen or fifteen, drinking a couple of alcopops with her best friend. Within a couple of months of starting drinking, her parents were aware of it and were quite sensible about it. Her father would buy cans of beer to be drunk at home, and would make sure that when she and her friends went out, they were sober. She had been given a little wine with meals when she was twelve. Her parents were not heavy drinkers, and she saw that you didn’t have to get drunk to enjoy alcohol. She says that she had a very nice home life, and was lucky to have very nice parents. A lot of her friends would hide their drinking from their parents. Their parents wouldn’t know until they were a bit older.

When she was sixteen or seventeen, she would go to pubs and clubs if she could get in. She would drink more than she drinks now. She says that she could handle it better then, and wasn't worried about getting a hangover, so would drink more.
 
Now, she worries about getting a hangover the next day. She is working and studying part time at college, and prefers to drink only on a big night out with friends. She says that she wouldn’t be devastated if she didn’t have a drink, but she would prefer to have one. She doesn’t need to drink to have a good time. She thinks that many people drink for the 'wrong' reasons such as getting over a breaking up, or trying to forget a problem. She thinks that young people drink too much, and often end up doing things they will later regret.
 
She used to smoke cannabis but stopped smoking weed and cigarettes four years ago because she didn’t enjoy it anymore. She also worried about the effect it had on her health and memory so she went to her GP who advised her about stopping smoking weed. She says that she could remember things a lot better after she stopped smoking. She also had concerns about her motivation, and felt a lot calmer after stopping. She doesn’t want to tell her parents about smoking cannabis because she wouldn’t want them to think that she had been keeping anything from them. She doesn’t see the need to speak to them about it, but might mention it in the future. She thinks that they wouldn’t think smoking cannabis was the worst thing in the world.
 

Stephanie used to smoke a lot of cannabis. She thinks most drugs shouldn’t be legalised but sets cannabis apart from the others.

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Stephanie used to smoke a lot of cannabis. She thinks most drugs shouldn’t be legalised but sets cannabis apart from the others.

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Where are you on the debate of legalising drugs?
 
I think the only one I would even slightly be okay with is Cannabis, but, and even though I mean I did stop smoking that continuingly for years I’ve only ever, every now and again I’ll try it now, I don’t feel very strongly about it being legalised really either way, I don’t really mind because I don’t do it anymore so it doesn’t really affect me. I don’t know if it would have much of a difference on whether people would want to do it or not I don’t think the illegal thing is the thing that puts people off.
 
No?
 
No I don’t think so, I mean maybe I should, actually that’s maybe I suppose if some, some people wouldn’t, would be very scared to be caught by the Police that kind of thing, that wasn’t a thing that put me off, if I was to ever, I think it’s more just the, doing something bad that would put kids off more I think than maybe it being illegal, but saying that I suppose you are quite scared of the Police catching you so, maybe yeah, just missed it, just missed that [laughs] yeah I don’t really know how I feel about the, I don’t, I mean I don’t really care either way again because I’m not really interested anymore.
 
Well what about the recreational drugs and hard drugs?
 
I don’t think any of them should be legalised no. No because I just think, personally I don’t think they’re very good, and I think if, it’s bad enough people who have a hard time, I mean I think as far as I can see you have to really source them before you could find them, you know, you’d have to, it takes a bit of planning, so I think if they were readily available people would just be taking them whenever, I mean a lot of the time I’ve seen people, the only reason they’re not taking ten more or whatever, you know, is because they’re not there, if they were they probably would, so I think if they were readily available people would be, doing more damage to themselves you know? 
 

After stopping using cannabis Stephanie's short-term memory improved and she felt less anxious...

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After stopping using cannabis Stephanie's short-term memory improved and she felt less anxious...

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When did you notice that you short term memory started to improve? It took a while?
 
Yeah because I still can’t really remember, maybe because I was so young, you know, and a lot of my time at the weekends all you did was you drink or smoke, so maybe that’s why I can’t remember certain things but one of my friends who was friends with me then, she says like, “Do you remember so-and-so?.” And I can’t remember this person, you know, I think, I can remember a lot more from when I stopped, definitely, but the time I was drinking or smoking quite a lot, and probably not that much compared to your average person but, yeah I can’t really remember, I can’t, yeah I can’t, I still can’t remember those times that clearly but, I can remember a lot of events after I stopped smoking. So maybe, even in, within a year [mmm] probably would have improved I’d say.

Motivation and I feel a lot more calmer, I’d probably be a lot more maybe worry about things more, maybe a bit more anxious that kind of thing, when I would be smoking out, you know I think and things were a lot more harder to deal with, but I, now I feel a lot more calmer, I don’t get as anxious or worried about things as I probably would have then.
 
Okay so you have noticed a difference then?
 
Oh definitely, yeah definitely I mean it really, and I’ve seen friends whether they like to admit it or not the same for them as well, they are a lot more, they are, I mean that, it, yeah I see they really stress out a lot more, very quick to snap, I think it does, I think in my experience it does cause mood swings,
 
Mood swings?
 
Cannabis. Yeah I’d say so yeah, and I remember one boy who smoked a lot and still does unfortunately, you know, he’s my, same as me, he started when I did and he’s still just as bad, and he’s a really different person, which is a shame, he’s a really different person he just seems like, he seems less intelligent, I know that sounds, maybe sounds a bit mean but he just seems less intelligent, strange, quite strange, it’s quite worrying to see what it can do to somebody.
 
And you were snapping sort of?
 
[Tuts], yeah I think I was, yeah I mean I can remember a few times just been getting really annoyed very quickly, you know, , just, you know, something that would annoy you normally, I’d probably get a lot more angrier than I should have been, you know, or, even just dealing with everyday things a lot less well than I would have normally I think because you just have, because you’re not, you’ve not got a clear head, you know, you’re in a kind of cloud and anything that disrupts you is in a, in a, is irritating, you know, I think. and yeah we probably feel a lot more anxious, a lot more nervous, you know, about things than I would now. 
 

Stephanie has trouble remembering things about her school days.

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Stephanie has trouble remembering things about her school days.

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I think you know I’m finding it quite difficult [laughs] to remember which is almost maybe a sign that I was, I don’t I think, yeah I think I must have been occasionally, I can’t picture me sitting in a lesson, I can’t see me doing that, but the, I mean that, it, what’s a shame is I do have a lot of time, because a lot of my friends would say, “Remember we did this?.” And I can’t remember, I will have a, a lot of trouble remembering certain ages where I would have been smoking a lot of Weed which is quite a shame, I, there are a lot of things I can’t remember from that time so I think I probably would have been I did, I remember going to one of my exams, it wasn’t a serious exam but I do remember having a joint before I went to the exam, mostly because I kind of resented doing, because my school would make me choose subjects and it was only two subjects I wanted to do, they would make me take other subjects that I didn’t want to do so I wouldn’t be interested and I went to that, so I think I’d had a joint before that exam I didn’t really care, I’d never do that now but [laughs] yeah I do remember doing that yeah.

 

Stephanie decided to try cannabis out of curiosity and because it seemed safer than Class A drugs.

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Stephanie decided to try cannabis out of curiosity and because it seemed safer than Class A drugs.

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Just curiosity yeah.
 
Curiosity?
 
Curiosity yeah, it didn’t seem like the, most serious drug in the world, I knew it was a big difference between that and taking Ecstasy or something like that.
 
In which, in which way?
 
I just think they seemed a bit more extreme, I mean I could, I’ve seen people so that they, I mean sometimes I wouldn’t even have been able to tell, and then that they be, maybe their eyes would be a bit red, they’d be a bit more giggly but it didn’t look like, somebody who’s running around the room chewing their face off, you know I think there’s a big difference between the two , and it wasn’t something that I was intimidated by really, it was a bit of a like ‘oh will I try this?’, you know, it was a bit kind of exciting and a bit bad and, I was just, yeah just genuinely curious, and it’s, it was quite funny when, when we tried it so, yeah [laughs]. 
 

Stephanie saw alcohol as ‘exciting’. The first time she got drunk, she and her friends told some boys they’d just met that they had been drunk before.

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Stephanie saw alcohol as ‘exciting’. The first time she got drunk, she and her friends told some boys they’d just met that they had been drunk before.

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 Okay [laughs]. The first time, I can remember the first time I tried alcohol I think I was probably fourteen or fifteen properly tried alcohol less, well I wasn’t with my parents so it was on my own the first time I tried alcohol, so it was me and, my other best friend and we were with a group of boys that we’d just become friends with, and they had been drunk before, and they asked if we’d been drunk before and we pretended that we had been even though we hadn’t been, but we wanted to try it, it wasn’t, we didn’t feel pressured or anything. and we got a couple of alcopops and we were sitting there saying, “Oh I feel quite dizzy.” And the boys would be saying, “Well yeah you’re getting drunk.” And we’re like, “Oh yeah of course.” You know pretending that we knew what it felt like [laughs] but we, I remember just being, it was fun, it was, it was exciting and it was fun and it wasn’t, we didn’t feel pressured, we did what we wanted to do, , and I suppose because we only had one or two it didn’t really last very long , but I enjoyed it, and then after that we would want, obviously wanted to do it again, most Fridays after school, we’d only have not that much pocket money so we wouldn’t be able to buy that huge an amount, I think if we had more money it could have been a bit more dangerous, because we’d obviously would have, might maybe bought more expensive alcohol. , but we only ever bought, you know, a couple of drinks each and it was always good fun. And then maybe we would buy kind of big bottles of cider which then would obviously have a worse effect [laughs]. 
 

Once she stopped enjoying cannabis Stephanie gave it up without much difficulty. She says she had...

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Once she stopped enjoying cannabis Stephanie gave it up without much difficulty. She says she had...

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You smoked Cannabis?
 
Yeah.
 
Are you still smoking?
 
No, but I mean very rarely, very rarely, I’ve kind of finished with that, again I just think I’ve kind of grown out of that stage now.
 
Okay so how old were you when you were smoking Cannabis?
 
From the ages of maybe seventeen to twenty-one. I mean that would be the most I would ever do it but, I mean on and off between those ages but yeah, that would be the main time.
 
And in which context were you? Were you with friends?
 
With friends, yeah with friends and occasionally on, I would just do it on my own, I would just have it on my own, I would think nothing of, having one on my own yeah, I would, at school, sometimesat school as well and again I would think nothing of that I thought I could function perfectly, thinking back I probably wasn’t functioning perfectly but I thought I was, but mostly I had a big group of friends who would do it and I really, I mean really enjoyed it so, I would do it then, but as soon as I stopped enjoying it I just kind of stopped, it wasn’t a big problem. 
 

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’.

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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.
 
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