.
Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

The Conversation

  • Written by Jennifer Power, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Millions of Australians use, or have used, illicit substances at some point in their life, while millions more are regular users of legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco or sleeping pills.

While some people become heavy users of alcohol or other drugs as a way of coping with past trauma or mental illness, this is not the story for millions of others. Young (and older) people use drugs and alcohol for fun, enjoyment and socialisation.

Read more: Three Charts on who uses illicit drugs in Australia

NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann summed it up well when she explained why she had used MDMA (ecstacy) in her 20s (and since):

We knew there were risks but we were prepared to take them because having a good time was our priority … The ‘Just Say No’ message was around then too. We ignored it. Some things never change.

“Fun” or “having a good time” as a reason for drug use is often dismissed as trivial or inconsequential. Why would people risk their health or life for simple fun?

Let’s look at the evidence for why people use three different types of drugs: party drugs, such as MDMA (ecstasy), cocaine or crystal methamphetamine (ice/crystal meth); marijuana; and alcohol.

Party drugs

The party drug category includes a range of drugs commonly used for dance parties, particularly MDMA (ecstasy), cocaine or gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), as well as crystal methamphetamine (ice).

In studies exploring motivation for party drug use, fun and pleasure are central. Users describe party drugs as giving them energy to dance and socialise, reducing inhibition and enhancing feelings of connection to others.

For some, party drugs also intensify sexual experience.

In these studies, party drug users’ descriptions of fun often relate to the quality of social relationships – drugs are fun because they allow for intense and disinhibited experiences with friends and lovers.

Read more: What do young people gain from drug use?

Some studies have suggested that party drug use can lead to social benefits that carry through into other areas of life, including building friendship networks and social connections through which people derive support.

Fun, in this sense, is not just about hedonism, but about the experience of belonging and developing social bonds.

Marijuana

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia, with 35% of the nation trying it at least once.

In debates about drug use, fun is important One in three Australians have used marijuana. Thought Catalog

There are many studies examining reasons why people use marijuana. For some, it is about coping and managing stress or difficult emotions. However, most people tend to use marijuana for fun, enjoyment, or relaxation in a social setting.

In the 1950s, sociologist Howard Becker described the ritual of smoking marijuana as a process in which people formed social ties and established a sense of group identity as they learned how to derive pleasure from the act of smoking marijuana.

For young people, marijuana use can also symbolise independence and a sense of freedom – a change in their social status.

Alcohol

Understanding what motivates people to drink alcohol is a complex task, given that unlike illicit drugs, alcohol is integrated into mainstream rituals and routines of modern life. We drink together to mark success, to celebrate marriages, to commiserate loss. Bars, pubs and restaurants are the focal points of most adults’ social lives.

The physical effects of alcohol – relaxation and disinhibition – are part of the pleasure associated with alcohol. But this can be hard to disentangle from the pleasure of participation in social rituals.

Here’s what happens when we take the first, second and fifth drink.

As with other drugs, studies which ask people why they drink cite social reasons – fun, enjoyment and disinhibition – as common motivations for drinking.

Why is this relevant?

Emphasising the social nature of drug use should not detract from the recognition that drug and alcohol use can devastate the lives of some individuals.

There is also a valid argument that the legitimised social status of alcohol allows us to ignore its health risks.

Read more: History, not harm, dictates why some drugs are legal and others aren't

However, understanding the social nature of drug use reveals why fun-seeking is so compelling. When people describe fun, they are often talking about an experience of social connection and belonging. Fun is not insignificant in human lives.

Understanding this might help to make sense of why “just say no” messages are so often ignored.

Authors: Jennifer Power, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Read more http://theconversation.com/in-debates-about-drug-use-fun-is-important-110696


The Conversation

Politics

Stepping up trade and cultural ties in the Pacific

Recognising the strong cultural and economic significance that kava has for Pacific communities, including those living in Australia, the Australian Government is stepping up its commitment to the P...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister - Statement on northeastern Syria

The Australian Government is deeply troubled by Turkey’s unilateral military operation into northeastern Syria.   Actions of this nature will have grave consequences for regional security and co...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

David Littleproud Interview with Fran Kelly ABC Insiders

FRAN KELLY: David Littleproud, welcome to Insiders. DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Thanks for having me, Fran. FRAN KELLY: You heard Joel Fitzgibbon there - "Just do something." What and where is the governme...

David Littleproud MP - avatar David Littleproud MP

Business News

Setting Up a Global Business in the 21st Century

In the modern era, there has never been a more globalized economy than what exists today. Nations from all across the world do business with one another, and private companies trade their goods and ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Understanding the Essentials of Operating a B2B Business

In the 21st century, there have been immense changes that our society has seen. From the way that people interact with each other to the immense alterations throughout our culture, the past two deca...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Start an Ecommerce Smartwatch Business

As the Internet has become more popular in the past few decades, and as people have adopted web-based technologies like smartphones and laptops into their everyday lives, the Internet has become mor...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

A First-Timer’s Guide to Whistler

Whistler ranks among the best skiing region in the world. Located in British Columbia in Canada, the resort attracts thousands of skiers and holidaymakers each year. Families bring their children fo...

Anees Saddique - avatar Anees Saddique

Top travel tips for Central and South America

Preparing for your trip to Latin America With tropical beaches to icy glaciers, ancient ruins to natural wonderlands, thick rainforest to wild Patagonian plains, a holiday to Latin American is th...

Digital 360 - avatar Digital 360

Entertainment spots in Queens New York

Vacation is very important, especially when one has been working very hard for a long time. Now to plan a vacation it is always advisable that one research on best places to choose as the destinatio...

Joseph Bracker - avatar Joseph Bracker

ShowPo