Daily Bulletin

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

Prime Minister on the Alan Jones Show

ALAN JONES: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan, how are you? Good to hear you back on the air.   JONES: Thank you. Thank you very much. Can I just - there's a lot...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

The Greens side with activists, not farmers

The Greens’ Agriculture Spokesperson, Senator Janet Rice, today made some disgraceful comments in relation to the Government’s tough new penalties for keyboard warriors who incite activists to inv...

Senator Bridget McKenzie - avatar Senator Bridget McKenzie

Scott Morrison interview with Alan Jones - 2GB

ALAN JONES: The Prime Minister's on the line from Melbourne, Prime Minister good morning. PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan ALAN JONES:  thank you for your time. I wish we had three hours but look...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

Business News

Deliveroo appoints Laura Huddle as Head of Commercial in Australia

Leading online food platform Deliveroo has appointed Laura Huddle as Head of Commercial in Australia, as the platform continues to invest in building a strong and experienced local leadership team...

Sinead Harding - avatar Sinead Harding

The Most Successful Start-Ups in Australia

The future looks bright for Australia’s start-up sector. Cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are beginning to be recognized as most popular Australian start-up hubs. More and more companies are ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Three important challenges small businesses face and how to fix them

Running a business can be hard, and sometimes, it can be harder than you think when first entering into this otherwise unknown world. Because of this, many small businesses in Australia are afrai...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

DEAL: Kids stay and eat for FREE these school holidays!

Take these school holidays to the next level with the ultimate family escape at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour. What’s more, kids under 12 years of age, can stay and eat for FREE! ...

Liana Gardy - avatar Liana Gardy

How to Book a Hotel for Your Vietnam Trip

Finding a travel destination may turn out to be challenging at times. You may have a long bucket list, which leaves you spoilt for choice on where to visit first. Going through travel blogs and site...

News Company - avatar News Company

New Allianz data reveals the ‘forgotten’ European countries attracting Australian travellers this winter

FROM SPAIN TO THE UKRAINE - THE SURPRISE EUROPEAN DESTINATIONS BOOMING WITH AUSSIE TOURISTS Australian travellers are seeking new destinations beyond the Mediterranean when it comes to European...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

ShowPo