Impact of Party Drugs on the Youth Culture

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Adolescence refers to the age group from 14 to 26 years. Ten percent of this age group use party drugs (Bennett, 2003). According to Arnett (2004) , this period of development is distinguished by five characteristics: identity exploration, instability, self-focus, a feeling of in-between and possibilities (Arnett, 2004, pg. 14). It is against these five characteristics that the impact of party drugs on the youth culture will be assessed. This essay will explore how the characteristics of adolescence place teenagers at risk from drug experimentation and how the perception of policy makers will influence the community’s response to the problem.

The exploration of identity involves having a range of experiences that provides the adolescent with the means to assess the possibilities for the purpose of formulating a distinctive self-image. To do this requires that the teenager have a range of experiences that seem distinct from those experienced through their parents. This journey of exploration results in an introverted focus on self and a sense of becoming, of being caught in the middle. In the individualised cultures of western societies, this transition involves a separation from parents and the construction of an independent self-sufficient identity (Arnett, 2004). The instability can often manifest in ‘risky behaviours’.

Although adolescence is a time for the construction of a unique self identity, it is also a time when a sense of belonging is engendered through common cultural construction. One subset of this cultural construction is the rave party scene that is a global phenomenon of the youth subculture (Shapiro, 1999). A rave party is often a large gathering of young people in an atmosphere where there is music and laser lights. This sub-culture is linked to the drug culture through party drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine. The effect of these drugs is to create a sense of wellbeing and a feeling of lightness. The choice to take drugs is an...
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