Drug culture

EXPERTS have called for anti-drug messages to be more clearly articulated after a study found almost half of 16 to 25-year-olds have tried ecstasy and most have used cannabis.

More than 2300 people were surveyed anonymously online in the University of New South Wales research commissioned by the Australian National Council on Drugs.

The survey found: 

●More than 62.6 per cent of respondents supported the legalisation of cannabis for personal use and 31.7 per cent believed the same of ecstasy.

●Almost three-quarters agreed that using drugs can be a pleasant activity.

●66.9 per cent said there were many things more risky than taking drugs.

●Close to half called for illegal drugs to be made legal.

●62.9 per cent consulted friends for information or advice.

●88.4 per cent consulted the internet for information or advice.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs chief executive Jann Smith yesterday said the statistics may be reflective of the proportion of the population taking the survey rather than an indicator of young people at large.

Ms Smith said the community needed to work together to include young people in discussions about alcohol and other drugs.

‘‘We can have a good look at how we articulate the messages that we explain to young people about the harms (involved in taking drugs),’’ Ms Smith said.

‘‘The very strong message that people are interested in this conversation means that we probably need to be thinking about how we have this conversation with young people.’’

Study lead author Kari Lancaster said young people wanted prevention programs that gave accurate, unbiased information instead of scare tactics.

‘‘What we found was that young people are keen to be part of policy deliberation, they are keen to have their voices heard and they are looking for ways they can be informed about their decisions and choice to use or not use drugs and alcohol.’’

Cornerstone Youth Services chief executive Brian Wightman agreed that young people needed to be involved in decisions that affected them.

He said it was ‘‘deeply concerning’’ that the people surveyed expressed cynicism that their views would be heard.

‘‘I don’t believe that they are included enough,’’ he said.

‘‘The views of young people have to be heard when you want to make a cultural change with young people.’’

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