Why do young people take drugs?

Why do young people take drugs?

The youthful 60-something retiree* laughs before whispering, "If my parents had known what I was up to in my university days, they would be worried."

Back then, she tells Sunday Star, she and her friends had tried weed (marijuana), which they got from a "dealer" at a stall behind a mosque.

"I'm not condoning drugs," says the grandmother of three, "but partying with drugs has been around for a long time. Like many are saying: 'If the older generation had Woodstock, this generation has raves'."

One difference that has to be noted, however, is that today's drugs are arguably more dangerous, and the "experimenters" are getting younger. (The National Anti-Drugs Agency or AADK reported that some 214 teens aged 13 to 18 were caught for drug abuse last year while the majority of drug abusers in the country are those aged between 19 and 39).

Young people who take drugs usually have a problem in their lives, mainly related to their family, says Alex Lui, senior lecturer and clinical psychologist at Help University's Department of Psychology.

"Sometimes they feel they are not getting enough attention from parents, so they might feel that no one cares or that they are not accountable to anyone for their actions."

With the party drug problem, Lui feels it is not so much peer pressure but curiosity that leads youths to try or indulge in them.

"Many today live by YOLO (You only live once) so if they are offered a drug at a concert or party they will want to try it, especially if they see their friends doing it."

Lui urges the authorities to step up their drug awareness campaigns for youths.

"Many young people know drugs are dangerous but they don't understand why or how they can affect them physiologically.

"For example, after taking the drugs, they can dance for hours and hours without feeling tired and they wouldn't realise they're dehydrated, which is one cause for fatality. Or many don't know how these chemical-based drugs can affect their nervous system and organs."

Lui believes it is also important to talk about how they can party and have fun without drugs instead of just about the dangers of drugs.

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