Consumption of and experimentation with illicit substances is often synonymous with the typical college experience. While this kind of curiosity is natural, and almost a rite of passage for those who choose to experiment, being aware of some of the negative side effects of using drugs can allow you to safeguard your body and mind for the future. Whether you dance the night away on cocaine and MDMA, chill out with a joint of cannabis, or use a bit of ketamine at an afters to take the edge off — it is well worth knowing what exactly these drugs are leaving you susceptible to. Being informed on some of the possible side effects of drug consumption and misuse can help to establish safer and more controlled environments for those who choose to partake.
First up, the most commonly used drug in Ireland: cannabis. Asides from the well-known effects of weed like laziness, lack of motivation, and being spaced out for a couple of hours after smoking it, it can, unfortunately, trigger schizophrenia in so-called vulnerable people. Vulnerable refers to those that start smoking it at too young an age, too often, and also those with a family history of the illness. A 2008 study found that people who had simply tried cannabis by age 18 were 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and that the risk increased with usage. Another staggering study in 2011 found that those that had smoked cannabis 50 times were six times more likely to develop schizophrenia. These are statistics that are worth keeping in mind, especially if you know the disorder runs in your family.
“MDMA has undisputed therapeutic benefits, with Australia only recently legalising it as a treatment for stubborn, treatment-resistant depression (amongst other things).”
Next up, MDMA. MDMA has undisputed therapeutic benefits, with Australia only recently legalising it as a treatment for stubborn, treatment-resistant depression (amongst other things). Taking MDMA can be euphoric when ingested in the right environment and with the right people. Unfortunately, taking too much increases your chances of developing Alzheimer’s as you grow older, as stated by a 2011 DRUGS.ie article. This is without even mentioning the common knowledge that MDMA should be a seasonal drug — it should only be taken once every three months for the levels of serotonin in your brain to fully restore.
Now, we will point our attention toward ketamine. Ketamine is a relatively new drug, and its popularity has exploded over the past five to ten years. The problem with this rapid expansion is that users aren’t as aware of the newly discovered side effects of taking it, like the 2012 discovery that the scarring of bladder tissue which will, over time, gradually decrease the bladder’s capacity to hold urine even if only taken once a month. A fantastic documentary by VICE on this topic is available on Youtube, entitled Pissing Blood: The Ketamine Time Bomb. It is a sobering watch and one that is worth the time taken out of your day to consume it, especially if you are regularly consuming K.
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without cocaine. Cocaine is sometimes inaccessible to students due to the sheer cost, but it is a mainstay of the party, pub, and general pint-related scenes. While all illegal substances might be trafficked into their destination country with a certain amount of violence, intimidation, bribery, and bloodshed — cocaine is the number one substance associated with all of the aforementioned. Ireland is one of the largest consumers of cocaine in Europe and through this, we are directly contributing to the death and destruction of communities in South America, not to mention the community devastation it causes closer to home through misuse and addiction.
Cocaine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. There is an adage associated with it which is “the only thing cocaine is good for is wanting more cocaine”. Obviously, this is a massive oversimplification — but it holds some truth and sheds light on the main side effect of cocaine: addiction. This leads nicely to what to do if your drug use is excessive and getting out of control.
“There is an addiction counselling group in College for any addictive behaviours which could be your port of call if things haven’t gotten too out of hand for you just yet.”
There is an addiction counselling group in College for any addictive behaviours which could be your port of call if things haven’t gotten too out of hand for you just yet. Alternatively, seeing your GP might also help. If it has all piled up on you and you need immediate relief from mental distress, your local psych unit could be the place to go for a week or two to get away from the drugs that are making your life worse. There are also plenty of free services available to help you through a situation like this.
HSE addiction services, which operate locally around the country, are places where you can seek help for a range of addictive behaviours. More info can also be found on the Citizen’s Information website by searching: Citizens Information Addiction Treatment Services. However, what is the real solution to some of these problems? A medical based approach where drug misusers are treated as humans offered help to cease use, and educated on the dangers of the drugs they are taking is the way forward. A criminal approach often only further indentures people to their addictions, creates shame, and then also makes it harder for the addict to return to everyday life after overcoming their addiction.