Designer drugs are getting more and more popular at clubs and pubs. We talked with Róbert Gáspár, the vice-dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy responsible for education and public relations, about the tendencies that show in the drug consumption of young people, the most popular substances, and about what can we do for drug-free entertainment.
Tendencies and designer drugs
In hungarian the word ‘drug’ means a chemical substance that, when consumed, alters consciousness, causes addiction, and for the addicted person the discontinuation of its intake causes psychic and physical withdrawal symptoms. From this perspective alcohol, and, in a broader sense (addiction, withdrawal symptoms) nicotine and caffeine are also drugs, - explained Róbert Gáspár.
He added that in Szeged it is difficult to measure the drug consumption of young people. Surveys done in middle schools in and around Szeged show that the use of cannabis as well as amphetamine derivatives, such as ecstasy, is significant. But designer drugs are the most popular among young people, since they are inexpensive and they can be purchased easily via the Internet, moreover, their use is difficult to punish.
These substances, as their name shows, are constantly redesigned by getting a given compound altered, which creates a new compound overnight. The chemical structure of this new compound is not known officially, therefore the new substance cannot be banned. In Hungary only the use of officially banned substances is illegal. This tendency is harmful not only because newer and newer substances enter the market all the time, but also because their effects and toxicological characteristics are not known – explained the professional. According to surveys, unfortunately more and more young students, even those around 12-13 years, start experimenting with these substances. One of the reasons for this is that they also start smoking and consuming alcohol and caffeine earlier. Although caffeine does not cause serious addiction, and it is relatively easy to give up its use, its consumption makes it easier to decide to try new substances. That is why some call it “addiction-glue.”
Consciousness altering substances, split families
One of the associate professors of the Department of Pharmacodynamics and Biopharmacy at the University of Szeged highlighted that early substance abuse is closely connected to the fact that families fall apart and parents do not pay enough attention to the children. The professor also pointed out that in the use of traditional drugs it is important that Szeged is near the border of the country, but in the case of designer drugs it is not, since these substances are purchased via the Internet, not personally from a dealer, therefore the order arrives in a pack whether or not it comes from beyond the border.
Despite the growing tendency of drug abuse, the consumption of alcohol is still the greatest problem in the case of teenagers and university students – the professor concluded. There are many signs of being a substance user. Cocaine and heroin constrict the pupils and alter the skin color; ecstasy users sleep too much, or are exhausted, which shows the drug made them overactive earlier. The professor also highlighted that in the case of drug users, who use substances more actively, one can observe changes in personality and behaviour, such as worse performance at school, changed circle of friends, interests, and communication.
Drug free entertainment
In the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Szeged students can take up a course on drugs, and they have the possibility to discuss the problems of drug abuse not only with professors but also with the professionals of the police. The Faculty of Pharmacy also organizes competitions for middle school students, which deal with the dangers of drug abuse and drug free entertainment – says the vice-dean. He advises young people not to experiment with any consciousness altering drugs, not to buy substances via the Internet, to only consume beverages that have been opened in front of their eyes, and not to leave their drinks unattended in clubs or pubs. In Hungary the biggest problem is that there are no entertainment facilities that are safe for young people. We need solutions that guarantee drug free entertainment, we need to create places of entertainment where consciousness altering is not present in any form. Besides, in today’s virtualized world, drug prevention also has to be present online, in order to reach more young people. Apparently, a solid economical and institutional background are needed to achieve these goals, said Róbert Gáspár, who is also a member of the Drug Consultation Forum, and who also took part in creating the drug prevention strategy of the city of Szeged.
Photo: Donát Herner