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Meet the Manchester students deciding to go out without taking illegal drugs

They do exist

According to The Tab's Drugs Survey 2018, a mere seven per cent of Manchester's students have never taken drugs. Yet, in every friendship group we all know someone who's not particualrly fussed about taking drugs like cocaine, MDMA or ketamine, but are still there partying hard alongside the mates that do indulge in hard drugs staying up all night with just Jägerbombs to keep them going.

Who are these people? They seem pretty sound, they're not hardline anti-drugs who judge you for even doing nos. You'll still catch them at a rave or a festival, it just seems that all they need to help them loosen up is a few drinks.

We spoke to these (almost) sober partygoers to find out why they aren't interested in taking drugs, what they think of it and whether a drug-free rave is actually any good.

Lena, third year, UoM, Biology

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"Before uni I never intended to try drugs, I wasn't anti [drugs] I just wasn't interested. But with Manchester being Manchester there's a big drug culture, and I liked the sort of music played at places like Antwerp and WHP and started to become curious. As a fresher, MDMA was really fun, It made me super lovey and massively energetic and I'd remember nights out way better than on booze.

"Then my friends started branching out into ket and other drugs that I wasn't interested in, so I started being on a different level to my friends, which wasn't an issue but just different. I also started to find the MD had no effect, quite a few times it would actually make me feel worse, I'd turn into a bit of a zombie and go completely in on myself which isn't me – I'm a very hyper person.

"So, I started to not want to do drugs because it was 50:50 if they'd ruin my night out or not. I never went on a night out to take drugs, which lot of my mates do. I only took drugs to enhance a night out.

"I stopped really because the quality of the drugs isn't as good and my friends were experimenting with stuff too hardcore for me. I'd say yeah the novelty wore off massively. When I first tried them they were worth the hype. I come from a very privileged small town, and so to suddenly be emmersed in raves with hundreds of people on drugs was exciting and so much fun, everyone is always on such a happy lovey level it's a great atmosphere. But, now the novelty has worn off and they're not worth doing anymore, and because of the inconsitent quality too."

Natasha Brook, MMU, International Fashion Promotion

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"Drugs have just never been something that interests me even though a lot of my friends regularly take them at parties or festivals. I’ve never felt pressured to try it.

"I was at Parklife last weekend and I stuck to just alcohol, even though it is a very drug orientated environment.

"Over the years I’ve seen people get in really bad states, and things have got out of control which has completely put me off. I would much rather just drink instead. I know my limits with alcohol, and I know exactly how I’m going to react, and exactly what I’m putting in my body, which is not always the case with drugs.

"I've noticed that my friends are sometimes unpredictable when under the influence of certain drugs, and not themselves at all."

Alex, first year, UoM, American Studies

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"The main reason for me is that I’ve been around addiction my whole life, and have seen how something 'fun' can become the opposite very, very quickly. Even though most people I know aren’t addicted [to drugs] I do notice a dependency, which looks familiar.

"I think most people I know get to uni and get on drugs because they feel pressured (maybe subconsciously) in to experimenting. I’m not talking about peer pressure, more just the worry that if they don’t experiment at uni, they’ll never get the chance again. But for me, having seen the effects of addiction first hand, it’s too dangerous of an experiment.

"In terms of going out on nights out, it’s less of a problem. I don’t really drink anyway, so my nights don’t last that long. I get a bit frustrated when I see people’s whole days going down the toilet because they’ve decided ket would be fun, but obviously it’s their choice and I will always respect that.

"Some of my closest friends are in to the whole scene, and it doesn’t bother me too much. But for me, drugs don’t mesh with my mental health, or my past."

Ella, first year, UoM

"I don't take drugs [anymore] because I mostly used to do them when I was about sixteen, but then I had a proper bad night a bit over a year ago. I had taken too much [MDMA] and started hallucinating and had a bad trip which induced panic attacks for a while after.

"Now at uni I just prefer to drink. I don't mind going out when people are doing drugs because pretty much everyone does [take drugs]. I find if you get drunk enough you don't care. It can be a bit uncomfortable if people are pinging and you're not on their level and they're being all intense but I'm aware of what it's like to be on it so I don't get annoyed at them.

"If I know it's gonna be a heavily drug based night I might avoid going or only go if I know there's someone else just drinking. The only times not taking drugs causes a problem for me is when people are obviously on drugs and acting really different it can be uncomfortable. Occasionally I get worried about my friends taking drugs, I don't want them to be in danger.

"I know that people are always going to do drugs, and I don't usually feel like I'm missing out so I reckon I have it easier than people who've never tried drugs before and get so many questions about it, and feel pressure to try them. In an ideal world I'd prefer people not to do them and for there not to be such a drug culture because a lot of people in manchester's nights out and lives revolve around drugs."

Chiara Edwards, 20, first year, MMU Fashion and Business

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"I would say my first proper experience with drugs was when I went to a festival in year twelve. I knew about everything but not properly, I saw how much people were taking and what [drugs] they were taking. It seemed to take over the whole festival, I saw one guy snorting drugs and he got powder all over his face. I remember it so vividly and it really, really put me off.

"I have never taken anything, nor had a cigarette. Everyone was telling me that when I went to uni my stance on drugs would change, but I just feel no urge or appeal [to take drugs] and I'm not attracted to it whatsoever.

"My best ever friend takes stuff and when I’m around I feel like he thinks I’m judging him or disappointed in him, but I genuinely don't care. I’m not saying that people don’t get in bad states from alcohol, because I’ve been there myself, but I've witnessed far more incidents with drugs and it's really put me off.

"My mates do it, and it’s chill but I definitely couldn’t have a boyfriend or close friends who took drugs regularly. When people are obsessed it takes over their lives and they can't have fun without it, and I can't be arsed with that."

Kristian Kott, UoM, fourth year, Chemistry

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"I don't really feel like I need drugs to be having fun when going out. I did try a couple of drugs here and there, and while I didn't have any problems with how I was feeling, they didn't make me have any more fun than alcohol usually does.

"I feel like not doing drugs makes the night out a lot safer for me as well, because if I buy a drink from a bar, I know exactly what I'm having and how much alcohol it has in it, which could be a problem if taking drugs.

"I think most of my friends do take drugs when going out, but my view is that they can do whatever they want. I like knowing what they have taken and when, just in case there are any issues with them, so that I can take care of them properly and not just panic. I don't think it's ever ruined my night or anything, but I've noticed that some people completely change as soon as they take anything.

"I'm more of a fan of a chilled night in the pub, rather than going insane on a rave, so I think it makes the people less enjoyable to be around, but definitely not a reason to not be around them."