Young folk are forging their own cautious path around drugs

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The push to legalise cannabis for medical use has growing support, including from some experts.

But the push to allow recreational use is a separate matter. It is also gaining ground in much of Europe and America.

Increasingly, opposition to liberalisation on casual use is seen as old fashioned stiffness. Young people are relaxed about these things — isn’t that so? In fact, not necessarily.

A new survey by the Higher Education Policy Institute and the University of Buckingham has found that the overwhelming majority of students have not in fact taken illegal drugs.

Some 71% of respondents had hot taken narcotics.

They also have great wariness about the long-term effects of drug use. Almost 90% of them think that drugs can cause long-term mental health problems.

A smaller number of students, but still a majority, think illegal drugs contribute to criminality and health care costs. At the same time, 44% of them think excess alcohol is “very serious” while 33% think drugs more dangerous than alcohol.

The findings come after other studies have shown that younger people are often waiting longer before they have sex, despite the proliferation of hardcore pornography.

These various pieces of research confound the sense that young people are always vulnerable to wild behaviour. It might be that the availability of different temptations has made them forge their own cautious path in early adulthood.

With regard to binge drinking and drugs, it is very good to see that so many students understand the risks.

Drug use and its allure will probably always be with us. Some people can take copious amounts of drugs and then abandon it all and live a happy, sober, responsible adulthood.

But others can’t abandon it, or, if they can, cannot get over the side effects and permanent damage it has caused them.

Drugs are, on the whole, dangerous, sometimes fatally so, and it is good that amid all the pressure to liberalise narcotic laws young people are staying aware of the perils.