“Almost all my salary is spent on paying for my drugs”.
This is the reality of many young people today who, due to social pressure, the desire to escape from reality, family problems or for other reasons, end up falling into this bottomless pit. That is why I set out to get a closer look at the reality of this problem that worries so many people.
The witnesses interviewed, who prefers to remain anonymous, says that “access to drugs nowadays is very easy” and he often buy it “from the same dealer”. We are in a land of regular cannabis and hashish smokers. Without going any further, Barcelona leads in marijuana consumption in Europe, tripling that of the traditional city of Amsterdam. According to the European Drugs Agency, around 22 million people across Europe are known to be regular users of marijuana. So, reinforcing what we have been saying, this is an all-time high on the European continent, where all countries have found an increase of traces of all kinds of drugs in their waste water.
The drug close-up
More than 40% of teenagers have tried this type of drug at some time, but not all of them end up becoming addicted to it. The interviewee, whom we will call Josep, explains that many people started “to try” and ended up “hooked” on this type of drug. All the “joint addicts” agree that “at parties you can go crazy” and end up smoking “6 or 7 joints”, which would be equivalent to about 3 grams of the substance .
The purchase price of these substances varies according to the area in which they are bought, the quality of the product, the place where it has been grown… Despite all these variables, the average price per gram of marijuana and hashish is usually around €5 in Spain. Knowing the difficult economic situations of many families today, we wonder how drug users can maintain a stable consumption. Some report that they often have to “legitimize” the drug, give their word to their “dealer” and take it for free to pay for it when they can afford it. For them, the drug has become a “must-have”, Josep admit that he needs to “use every day”. Otherwise his behaviour can be affected and he says that he can “suffer from nervousness or anxiety attacks”.
Josep explained that “when I took my first hit of a joint I told my mother, she said to be careful and to be responsible for myself, as I was close to 18”. He further added that “alcohol and joints are no big deal; for me everything else is rubbish. Here, in Barcelona it’s easy to get because it’s a smoking city”. Many of the families of young smokers also have certain addictions or structural problems: “I smoke joints with my parents”. So sometimes vices can come from “above”.
However, there are continuous interventions by the local police for the consumption of joints on public roads or in the vicinity of the municipality. For these reasons, Josep reiterated that “they are very annoying, they don’t leave us alone anywhere”. Despite these repeated statements by consumers, they all admit that they are grateful not to be sanctioned on most occasions, with fines ranging from 600 to 10,000€.
The police force is obliged to fulfil its obligations, as established by law. Despite this, they are surprised by “the large increase in drug use at increasingly younger ages”. The local council “is aware of the problems that exist with drug use and drug trafficking on the town’s public streets”. They believe that consumers need to be made more aware of the consequences of these practices throughout their lives. The council worker also admitted that “we have all been young” but that this does not mean that we should normalise this dangerous situation which is becoming more and more common.
Despite that, all the users were grateful for the ease with which they can get “quality drugs” in the associations where drugs are sold. They explain that in these places “it is very good and you can spend the day there, there is everything”. These centres provide cards with totally secret identification numbers that are required to gain access to the premises where drugs are sold and consumed.
Time for reflection
Josep was asked about the consequences for his health but he says that “we will have to die of something” or “I don’t care”. These statements are certainly not very hopeful for the world of work and society in the coming years. The trail of the years leading up to the present day seems to be following a clear and vertiginous trend. The mental health of young people, which has suffered in times of pandemics and wars, coupled with structural problems, easy access to drugs and indifference on the part of many environments, is allowing the trend to continue in the same direction.