The July 2013 issue of Tatler has a survey about drugs.

‘Drugs: the terrible truth’ (pp 116-119) is based on the findings of 100 public (exclusive private) school alumni aged 18 to 40.

The findings:

– Around 80% of public school graduates in their 20s take some form of drug, often controlled substances (p. 117).

– The cannabis smoked today is not the same as in the 1980s or earlier. Today’s skunk — ‘hallucinogen-soaked, hydroponically farmed’ — is responsible for most of the casualties of schizophrenia and psychosis in younger adults, from older adolescents to those in their 30s (p. 117).

– More young men than women gravitate towards skunk. Smoking eight or nine joints a day can harm mental health and inhibit memory. One young man who works for a hedgefund had to stop smoking once he realised he couldn’t memorise a string of numbers. On the other hand, one 19-year old said that those who end up damaged by skunk ‘were usually a bit odd to begin with’. Lesson: don’t aggravate an already precarious state of health (p. 117).

Ketamine (horse tranquiliser) is the big drug for adolescents. One 18-year old described it as ‘GCSE juice’. K sells for £20. Those with a bit more pocket money can buy cocaine (£60 – £100, depending on quality) and combine it with K. This mix is known as CK. A 26-year old says of CK, ‘Your limbs aren’t really working and you have lost a lot of motor skills, but you are really hyper and awake’, something he says many users enjoy (p. 118).

K is the drug of choice for those between 18 and 21 at nightclubs, birthday parties and private parties. One student said that snorting too much K will make you lie on the floor ‘thinking you are flying around Mars. Although it might be a very profound experience for you, you will be quite a horrible thing to behold, because looking like you are unconscious-dead can bum a lot of people out‘ (p. 118).

Ritalin is another popular teen drug. One student said, ‘I have an Asperger’s friend who sells it to me’ (p. 118).

Summer music festival goers rely on ‘hug drugs’ — ecstasy (£10) and MDMA (purer ecstasy, £40 a gram). MDMA users dip a finger in the powder and lick it (p. 118). Valium or Xanax are used to ensure a few hours’ sleep at night (p. 119).

Those surveyed expressed ambivalence towards cocaine, although they acknowledged that the boy with the phial is the one who pulls the girls. Cocaine is now known as ‘gak’. One person who objects to it said ‘it’s not mind-expanding’ (p. 118).

‘Postcode drugs’ are those with chemical formula names, e.g. 2C-T-7. They come from China. Tatler describes them as ‘trippier than MDMA but less hallucinogenic than acid, so you can still dance’ (p. 118).

By the end of the summer, one 27-year old said, most users were broke and ‘on antidepressants by September — no money or serotonin left’ (p. 119).

– Then there is the Famous Five — cocaine, weed, MDMA, K and pills. One woman said she once took them and ended up in an ambulance: ‘Racing heart, flashing lights, stomach pains — I collapsed. I just don’t have the constitution and I’m so grateful for that’ (p. 119).

– The average first age of drug experimentation is 15 years, four months (p. 118).

Only 12% of those surveyed (18 – 40 year olds) have never taken a drug (p. 118).