No desire to be weaned off weed

19th May 1995 at 01:00
Adam and Lee remember discovering about drugs when they were only six or seven. Before they had left primary school they were experimenting with cannabis. Now, aged 16, they attend a drop-in centre for drug users.

But though they may appear to be the sort of horror story used to frighten other youngsters off drugs the two are remarkably sanguine about their past. Neither intends giving up drug use. And they know about the effects of drugs, have never used heroin and have no intention of doing so.

Lee said: "I have enjoyed myself. There's a crowd of us and we have a laugh. We don't regard drugs as bad. I would rather smoke weed (cannabis) than inject or drink too much. It just relaxes you. I don't find it macho at all."

On the estate where they live near Wythenshawe, Manchester, dealers sell whatever is going. It may be drugs. It could easily be cheap beer imported duty free from France. The two try whatever is available if the price is right.

Adam said: "We get trips (LSD) or whizz (amphetamine) occasionally, but weed is the favourite. As kids it was easier to get hold of than beer. On one small part of the estate there were nine dealers. I started because everybody else seemed to be having a go and I wanted to see what it was like."

The two have had brushes with the law, but insist that is now behind them. They had a spell of stealing and stripping cars to pay for a habit that was costing Pounds 150 a week. Neither attended school much and they are now looking for jobs.

Adam's worst experience was when he overdosed on tablets prescribed for epileptics. A mistake he is adamant he will not repeat. He is also sure he won't try anything too "heavy" either. "We know about drugs: what they look like, what they cost, where to get them, what they do to you. We know what we like and what we won't touch."

For Lee there was little pressure from home to give up. "My mother smokes weed and doesn't see any harm in it."

The two are regulars at the New Start project basically because it gives them something to do. Many others at the project have been referred by the probation service and the aim is to provide alternatives to drug use and custody.

Christine Valentine, a project worker, said: "Everybody here is a drug user but whether they give up is down to them. We aim to work on personal development and raising self esteem. We also aim to reduce the harm of drugs through a needle exchange and providing condoms."

Unlike Adam and Lee the majority at the centre are long-term hard drug users. The target age range is 17 to 30. "We don't like to take anyone much younger but it depends. We don't want young people picking up bad habits from addicts but many younger people are already pretty street wise."

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