AMID the ongoing debate over pill testing at music festivals and the broader impact of recreational drug use in Australian society, six young people have opened up about their own use of cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and other drugs in Orange.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the group outlined the ease with which drugs are located and purchased in the city, and the breadth of their use among its younger demographics.
Five of the group, aged from 19 to 27 and graduates of four different Orange high schools, agreed marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy were all easy to come by in the city, and ice, LSD and mushrooms were readily available “if you know the right people”.
The “right people” were usually friends of friends, and while their dealers “weren’t dodgy necessarily”, they were “maybe not the type of people I’d usually hang out with”.
I don’t really enjoy drinking and it’s a lot cheaper to spend $20 on a cap where I feel more in control than if I’m drunk.
Jessica*, 23 years old, said the exchanges usually took place somewhere public, like the Orange City Library car park or a pub, but sometimes at the dealer’s house. She said she’s been to house parties in Orange with up to eight people her age “openly racking up lines of coke in the kitchen”.
Claire* 20 said MDMA [Methylenedioxymethamphetamine], more commonly known as ecstasy, was her drug of choice, and she usually felt pretty safe meeting a dealer at an arranged spot in the street to exchange cash through the vehicle’s windows.
“I’ve gone off to get it on my own and I’ve never been worried,” she said.
Having first smoked marijuana at 15 and taken ecstasy for the first time at 19, Claire said at the start she didn’t know her limits, and once exceeded them by far enough to have ended up in hospital.
“I was shaking, so my friends called an ambulance and they put me on a drip. I’d done too much and combined a bunch of caps and pills and weed and alcohol,” she said.
She said it made her take check of her behaviour but it wasn’t enough to end her about-once-a-fortnight drug habit.
“It’s just really fun,” Claire said. “I don’t really enjoy drinking and it’s a lot cheaper to spend $20 on a cap where I feel more in control than if I’m drunk.”
Jessica said her parents had brought her up in a strict Catholic environment, and were unaware of her intention every few weeks to take amphetamines.
“I feel like my parents would freak out if they found out anything about my lifestyle,” she said. “My friends are the same – they all come from pretty uptight families who wouldn’t expect their kids would be doing this.”
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Only one of the six interviewed said they’d never taken illegal drugs. The 19-year-old said of his 10 closest mates he thought probably two had taken ecstasy, and while it had been offered to him he had no interest in trying it.
Of the five drug takers all said they took amphetamines at house parties, festivals and bars, and it wasn’t uncommon to see four or five guys cram into a toilet cubicle out in Orange on a Saturday night where it was “pretty clear they are sharing a bag”.
None of the six had tried drugs besides marijuana before graduating high school, and agreed it was pretty uncommon for high school students to be trying anything harder.
But both Claire and Jessica estimated about eight of their 10 closest mates in Orange had “at least tried some kind of party drug”.
Amanda*, 27 said she dabbled in MDMA, speed, acid and mushrooms every couple of weeks when she’s at a festival or a party, but she smoked marijuana every day in 2018.
She said she and her partner smoke “cones and pipes” after work the same way other couples have a glass of wine every night. She said she planed to quit when she gets pregnant.
“Everyone is addicted to something. Some people like coffee, some alcohol, some like the gym, I like to smoke,” Amanda said.
While each of the young people interviewed expressed a concern that what they were doing was bad for them, no one thought the scare tactics employed during their high school education was enough to act as a deterrent.
“People don’t need to be scared out of doing it,” said Claire. “They need to be educated.”
The drug takers who purchased “party drugs” regularly said they took tried not to buy off strangers. Tom*, 27 said he always went to a family member who bought from guys with home drug test kits and had sampled the product before him.
“If they don’t die. I’ll give it a whirl,” he said.
Having watched his sister battle a daily addiction to Duromine and Oxycontin, which he said was prescribed for pain relief for three years by a doctor in Orange, Tom said he was more scared of legal drugs than anything he does.
He said he once witnessed a 25 year old in Orange come pretty close to hospitalisation after taking too many drugs, but it wasn’t enough to make him want to stop.
“I’m not worried by the government scare campaign,” he said.
Jessica said she 100 per cent supports pill testing at festivals to allow party goers an opportunity to learn what they’re taking.
“People are going to do it anyway,” she said. “We don’t want to take stuff which could have toilet cleaner or anything in it, but we take it when we’re drinking and we just want to have that little extra bit of fun.”
- Real names withheld
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