Người trẻ thử và sử dụng ma túy là một thực tế trong xã hội. Tôi nhớ lần đầu tiên được rủ thử ma túy cũng là lần đầu tiên tôi đi hộp đêm ở Melbourne cùng với một nhóm du học sinh cùng khóa. Mặc dù lúc đó rất tối và tiếng nhạc mạnh rất ồn ào, tôi vẫn nhận thấy có gì rất khác lạ trong cái nháy mắt của anh bạn khi chuyền cho tôi chai bia và bảo tôi hãy nhấp môi. Tôi không uống nhưng sau đó biết rằng ‘thuốc lắc’ đã được thả vào chai bia. Họ đã lấy viên thuốc đó như thế nào và lúc nào, tôi hoàn toàn không biết, nhưng biết rằng tất cả các bạn của mình đêm đó đã cùng uống chai bia đó để có thể ‘cảm’ được tiếng nhạc mạnh và tự tin hơn trên sàn nhảy - Lili.
Đó là một kỷ niệm khi mới đặt chân đến Australia từ Việt Nam của Lili Tu, sản xuất chương trình cho bộ phận tiếng Anh. Vì ấn tượng này, Lili đã tham dự một buổi hội thảo về Giới trẻ và Ma túy được tổ chức tại Melbourne vào Tuần lễ Giới trẻ Australia để tìm hiểu thêm về vấn đề sử dụng ma túy của thanh niên tại Úc.
Drug use in Australia
A recent United Nations (UN) report shows cannabis is the most widely used drug in Australia, being used by just over 10 per cent of the adult population. Next comes ecstacy (3.0 per cent), cocaine (2.1 per cent) and amphetamines (2.1 per cent). (Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2012 World Drug Report)
These substances are generally referred to as illegal recreational drugs, or illicit drugs. According to UN figures, Australia is ranked first in the top 10 countries in its use of ecstasy, fourth in amphetamines, and eighth in cocaine.
Young people face peer pressure
Mim DiNapoli, a final year student at a respected girls’ school in Melbourne, says the presence of illicit drugs in society is a challenge for young people who are vulnerable to peer pressure.
'If you want to join the circle, you’ll do what others do,' she says.
She lists some other common reasons young people might be tempted to try illegal substances:
- curiosity about the sensations that drugs bring
- excitement, thrills from the forbidden nature of drugs
- an escape from the pressures of study, family and other aspects of life: a chance to forget about everything and just have fun
A drug problem can be a symptom of deeper troubles
Peter Wearne has worked with marginalised young people for more than 30 years. He says many young people who have serious drug use problems take drugs for complicated reasons. For example, they might have been victims of neglect, or abuse.
Peter remembers asking a young lady one day about when she knew that she'd get into trouble with her drug use and she replied ’the first time I took drug, I felt like this is how I should always feel, and I knew that I will always go back to that drug.‘
Some young people manage drug use better than others
Lisa Pryor, author of ‘A small book about drugs’ admits that she took drugs recreationally during her teens and in her twenties. She says that she neither became addicted nor had any major life troubles related to her drug use. Lisa has completed degrees in law and art, worked as a journalist and an author, and is now pursuing a medical career.
So why did she take drugs?
'Probably, for the same reason I take other risks in my life. Things like travelling overseas to destinations which are not particular safe. Again, it’s the same whether I am travelling to an exotic country or taking drugs. I think you’d better be very careful and realise that things can go wrong and take precautions,' she says.
Even though Lisa was aware that people could stigmatise her, she decided to write about the experience of drug use among her peers. She also wrote about what could go wrong when you took drugs. Lisa believes if people like her speak up, it can help society better understand people who end up having problems with drugs.
Open, honest dialogue recommended
Peter Wearne agrees with Lisa that honest conversation is crucial, despite the risk that talking about drug use can be mistaken for promoting drugs. He recommends parents have honest conversations with their children about illicit drugs.
'Have an honest conversation with your children about what really happens in the world, not what you hope would happen or wish would happen, but what really is going on and how they’re gonna navigate that world.'
From his experience, Peter says that a serious drug use problem is not a moral issue but a mental health issue. He also believes society needs to stop blaming drug users in order to treat their problems.
'How do you help people who you stigmatise and blame? They don’t come to you for help and that’s what we do', Peter says.