Despite all the concerns about illicit drug use and the attendant lifestyle by young people, it is probably still the case that the lives of most young people are centred on school, home and employment and that most drug use is restricted to the use of tobacco and alcohol. They may adopt the demeanour, fashion and slang of a particular subculture including the occasional or experimental use of illegal drugs without necessarily adopting the lifestyle.
Even so, the evidence of drug use within youth culture suggests that the experience of substances is often pleasurable rather than negative and damaging. So probably the main reason why young people take drugs is that they enjoy them.
Many young people live in communities which suffer from multiple deprivation, with high unemployment, low quality housing and where the surrounding infra-structure of local services is fractured and poorly resourced. In such communities drug supply and use often thrive as an alternative economy often controlled by powerful criminal groups. As well as any use that might be associated with the stress and boredom of living in such communities, young people with poor job prospects recognise the financial advantages and the status achievable through the business of small scale supply of drugs.
However, drug use is certainly not restricted to areas of urban deprivation. As the press stories of expulsions from private schools and drug use in rural areas show, illicit drug use is an aspect of our society from top to bottom and in all regions.
Most young people are naturally curious and want to experiment with different experiences. For some, drugs are a good conversation point, they are interesting to talk about and fascinate everyone.
The defence mechanism
Some young people will use drugs specifically to ease the trauma and pain of unsatisfactory relationships and the physical and emotional abuse arising from unhappy home lives. Such...