You are on page 1of 18

Charles I National College


Student: Vrtopeanu Iulia-Iulia Coordinating teacher: Eduard Mossang

RATIONALE---------------------------------------------------------------------------3 TRENDS IN DRUG USE IN BRITAIN--------------------------------------------4
A. Medicinal Use-------------------------------------------------------------------------------4 B.Recreational Use-----------------------------------------------------------------------------4 C.The Most Popular----------------------------------------------------------------------------5 D. The Hardest----------------------------------------------------------------------------------7

DRUG EDUCATION-----------------------------------------------------------------8 DRUG AND THE LAW--------------------------------------------------------------9

Dealing with a Drug Offender---------------------------------------------------------------------9

DRUG AND ROMANTIC LITERATURE--------------------------------------10 RENTON: WHO NEEDS REASONS WHEN YOU GOT HEROIN?-------13

By the data it contains, my paper offers an overall picture of drug use in Britain. I have to confess that I feel pretty uncomfortable when speaking about drugs having a huge impact on people as it has been affecting me too, though, indirectly. However, I decided to choose "Drug Use in Britain" as subject of my Certificate because it is a topic that I am familiarized with, and which really concerns me - a good friend of mine is a drug addict. I know him for years and I thought I had no reason to doubt our relationship. But things changed in the last two years and drug consumption turned him into a very different person, one who stopped caring about anything except for drugs. He went from an above average student in his class to a repeat student, from a trustworthy friend to a total stranger.He started to do things I never thought he would do before like bullying students, and fighting without reason just because someone looked at him the wrong way. He rarely smiles or plays sports like he used to. He is always moody and angry with his friends and teachers. He started to skip school once or twice a week and as no one seemed to care so he was soon absent every day, because he had decided to give up studies. I haven't seen him for a month as he spends all his time with his drug addict friends and out last talk was nothing more than "How are you?, just like you say to a person you met yesterday. I am extremely disappointed and terribly sad that drugs can "kill" relationships and I considered it was appropriate to take this opportunity to reflect on the drug problem in the British countries and to consider some of the challenges British drug users are likely to face, because I knew that the research for my paper would provide me with better knowledge of and insight into the drugs issue.

The first chapter ('Trends in Drug Use in Britain') sets out evidence of UK trends in drugs use showing a dramatic growth in their consumption. Moreover, it offers information about the most popular drug in Britain, Cannabis, and the hardest one, Heroin, describing their impact on the body and mind. In the second chapter ('Drug Education) I wrote about the attempts that have been made in Britain to prevent and treat drug use through advertising and educational programmes. The third chapter ('Drugs and the Law') names the most important drug laws in UK and presents a classification of drugs, given by The Misuse of Drugs Act depending on how harmful they are. There are also mentioned the major offences - possession of a controlled drug, supply and intent to supply.

The forth and the fifth chapters ('Drugs and Romantic Literature' and 'RENTON: Who needs reasons when you got heroin?') represent my personal contribution and show the link between drugs and British literature in the Romantic period, as well as Trainspotting's approach to drugs.


The term drug is of varied usage. In medicine, it refers to any substance with the potential to prevent or cure disease or enhance physical or mental welfare, and in pharmacology to any chemical agent that alters the biochemical physiological processes of tissues or organisms. Hence, a drug is a substance that is, or could be, listed in a pharmacopoeia. In common usage, the term often refers specifically to psychoactive drugs, and often, even more specifically, to illicit drugs, of which there is non-medical use in addition to any medical use. Professional formulations (e.g. "alcohol and other drugs") often seek to make the point that caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and other substances in common non- medical use are also drugs in the sense of being taken at least in part for their psychoactive effects.

A medication or medicine is a drug taken to cure and/or ameliorate any symptoms of an illness or medical condition, or may be used as preventive medicine that has future benefits but does not treat any existing or pre-existing diseases or symptoms. Dispensing of medication is often regulated by governments into three categories -over-thecounter (OTC) medications, which are available in pharmacies and supermarkets without special restrictions, behind-the-counter (BTC), which are dispensed by a pharmacist without needing a doctor's prescription, and Prescription only medicines (POM), which must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional, usually a physician. In the United Kingdom, BTC medicines are called pharmacy medicines which can only be sold in registered pharmacies, by or under the supervision of a pharmacist, these medications are designated by the letter P on the label, the precise distinction between OTC and prescription drugs depends on the legal jurisdiction. Medications are typically produced by pharmaceutical companies and are often patented to give the developer exclusive rights to produce them, but they can also be derived from naturally occurring substance in plants called herbal medicine. Those that are not patented (or with expired patents) are called generic drugs since they can be produced by other companies without restrictions or licenses from the patent holder.

Recreational drugs use is the use of psychoactive substances to have fun, for the experience, or to enhance an already positive experience. The slang term for this experience is "getting stoned" or "getting high." When a drug user is intoxicated, they may feel strange, happy, dizzy, or weird. Some drugs such as marijuana and hashish often make users feel sleepy and relaxed. Some drug users have feelings that they are floating or dreaming. Drugs such as LSD make people feel intensely; they make one see and feel things like never before, and think things about the world they would normally not. Some say it increases knowledge and creates wisdom. Other drugs such as Crystal Meth make users feel excited and happy and full of energy.

Recreational drug taking at the start of the 1960s was a minority activity closely associated with a counter culture movement that involved experimentation with LSD and hallucinogenic drugs as well as the use of cannabis. By the 1980s, hard drug use reached the urban poor, spreading through the housing estates and inner city areas, offering an alternative way of life that was far from benign. Trends over the early 1990s were mostly characterised by a continued evolution of pre-existing national and cultural patterns of drug use (cannabis, heroin, LSD,cocaine). The use of codeine derivatives increased, and so did the use of various domestically produced poppy preparations containing opiates which, after a pause in the late 1980s, increased again. In the early 1990s, use of LSD, amphetamines and occasionally cocaine in nightspots was reported among a small, fashionable crowd. Subsequently, from the mid to the late 1990s, there was some increase among youth groups, especially in cities, of LSD, ecstasy and amphetamine use. Over the second half of the 1990s, while previous drug use patterns continued, there was evidence of a move towards cannabis use, among a cross-section of young people,heroin use in various groups but increasingly among more marginalised communities, and the so-called 'party-drugs' use (ecstasy and LSD),primarily among more affluent, city youth; cocaine use was still relatively rare. Analyses of current trends indicate that the increase in drug use may have started to stabilise in the early 2000s, especially in major cities, where prevalence levels are usually several times higher than in rural areas (e.g. areas in Manchester, Glasgow and London are known to have been blighted by drug use).


1.What is it? Call it pot, grass, weed, or any one of nearly 200 other names, marijuana is, by far, Britains most commonly used illicit drugand far more dangerous than most users realize. Marijuana has been around for a long while. Its source, the hemp plant (cannabis sativa), was being cultivated for psychoactive properties more than 2,000 years ago. Grown wild in many parts of the world, its believed to have originated in the mountainous regions of India. Although cannabis contains at least 400 different chemicals, its main mind-altering ingredient is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).The amount of THC in marijuana determines the drugs strength, and THC levels are affected by a great many factors, including plant type, weather, soil, and time of harvest. Sophisticated cannabis cultivation of today produces high levels of THC and marijuana that is far more potent than pot of the past. THC content of marijuana, which averaged less than 1 percent in 1974, nowadays rises to an average 4 percent. In the UK marijuana is a Class B illegal drug. 2.How is it used? Marijuana and other cannabis products are usually smoked, sometimes in a pipe or water pipe, but most often in loosely rolled cigarettes known as "joints." Some users will slice open and hollow out cigars, replacing the tobacco with marijuana, to make what are called "blunts." Joints and blunts may be laced with other substances, including crack cocaine and the potent hallucinogen phencyclidine (PCP), substantially altering effects of the drug. Smoking, however, is not the sole route of administration. Marijuana can be brewed into tea or mixed in baked products (cookies or brownies). 3.How does it affect you? A mild hallucinogen, marijuana has some of alcohols depressant and disinhibiting properties.User reaction, however, is heavily influenced by expectations and past experience, and many first-time users feel nothing at all.

Effects of smoking are generally felt within a few minutes and peak in 10 to 30 minutes. They include dry mouth and throat, increased heart rate, impaired coordination and balance, delayed reaction time, and diminished short-term memory. Moderate doses tend to induce a sense of well-being and a dreamy state of relaxation that encourages fantasies, renders some users highly suggestible, and distorts perception (making it dangerous to operate machinery, drive a car or boat, or ride a bicycle). Stronger doses prompt more intense and often disturbing reactions including paranoia and hallucinations. Most of marijuanas short-term effects wear off within two or three hours. The drug itself, however, tends to linger on. THC is a fat-soluble substance and will accumulate in fatty tissues in the liver, lungs, testes, and other organs. Two days after smoking marijuana, one-quarter of the THC content may still be retained. It will show up in urine tests three days after use, and traces may be picked up by sensitive blood tests two to four weeks later. 4.The impact on the mind Marijuana use reduces learning ability. Research has been piling up of late demonstrating clearly that marijuana limits the capacity to absorb and retain information. A study of college students discovered that the inability of heavy marijuana users to focus, sustain attention, and organize data persists for as long as 24 hours after their last use of the drug. Researches, comparing cognitive abilities of adult marijuana users with non-using adults, found that users fall short on memory as well as math and verbal skills. Although it has yet to be proven conclusively that heavy marijuana use can cause irreversible loss of intellectual capacity, animal studies have shown marijuana-induced structural damage to portions of the brain essential to memory and learning. 5.The impact on the body Chronic marijuana smokers are prey to chest colds, bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma. Persistent use will damage lungs and airways and raise the risk of cancer. There is just as much exposure to cancer-causing chemicals from smoking one marijuana joint as smoking five tobacco cigarettes. And there is evidence that marijuana may limit the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease. Marijuana also affects hormones. Regular use can delay the onset of puberty in young men and reduce sperm production. For women, regular use may disrupt normal monthly menstrual cycles and inhibit ovulation. When pregnant women use marijuana, they run the risk of having smaller babies with lower birth weights, who are more likely than other babies to develop health problems. Some studies have also found indications of developmental delays in children exposed to marijuana before birth.

6.Teens and marijuana Although dangers exist for marijuana users of all ages, risk is greatest for the young. For them, the impact of marijuana on learning or on making appropriate life-style choices is critical. Thus, marijuana can inhibit maturity. Another concern is marijuanas role as a "gateway drug," which makes subsequent use of more potent and disabling substances more likely. An Independent Drug Monitoring Unit analysis of 7 successive British Crime Surveys for UK found adolescents who smoke pot 85 times more likely to use cocaine than their nonpot smoking peers. And 60 percent of youngsters who use marijuana before they turn 15 later go on to use cocaine.

But many teens encounter serious trouble well short of the "gateway." Marijuana is, by itself, a high-risk substance for adolescents. More than adults, they are likely to be victims of automobile accidents caused by marijuanas impact on judgment and perception. Casual sex, prompted by compromised judgment or marijuanas disinhibiting effects, leaves them vulnerable not only to unwanted pregnancy but also to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 7.Marijuana dangers Impaired perception Diminished short-term memory Loss of concentration and coordination Impaired judgment Increased risk of accidents Loss of motivation Diminished inhibitions Risk of AIDS and other STDs Increased heart rate Anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia Hallucinations Damage to the respiratory, reproductive, and immune systems Increased risk of cancer Psychological dependence

1.What is it? Heroin is a morphine derivative, and morphine is opiums most potent active ingredient. First synthesized in 1874, heroin was widely used in medicine in the early part of the 20th Century, until its addictive potential was recognized. Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste. Street heroin may vary in color from white to dark brown because of impurities or additives. There is a dark brown or black form of the drug, as dense as roofing tar or coal, known as "black tar." Known on the street as smack, horse, H, junk, or scag, heroin is the most dangerous of the abused narcotics in Britain. Narcotic drugs (also called opioids) are derivatives of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) or chemically similar synthetics. 2.How is it taken? When prescribed, narcotics are most often taken by mouth. Heroin, however, is generally inhaled or injected, although it may also be smoked. Heroin can be mixed with tobacco or marijuana and smoked in a pipe or cigarette. It may also be heated and burned, releasing fumes that users inhale ("chasing the dragon"). Users who choose injection, generally inject directly into a major vein ("mainlining"), although some may start by injecting under the skin ("popping"). Heroin abusers often use other drugs as well. They may "speedball," taking cocaine or methamphetamine with heroin, or use alcohol, marijuana, or tranquilizers to enhance the high and blunt effects of withdrawal. 3. What is Heroins Behavioral Impact? The behavioral impact of habitual heroin use is generally devastating. Most habitual users are incapable of concentration, learning, or clear thought. Rarely are they able to hold a job. They are apathetic, indifferent to consequences, and unable to sustain personal relationships. For many, the inability to honestly earn enough to meet their drug needs leads to crime. For the overwhelming majority, compulsive use prompts behavior that is self-destructive and irresponsible, often antisocial, and characteristically indifferent to the injury, pain, or loss it causes others.

4.Paying the price of its use Dry, itchy skin and skin infections Constricted pupils and reduced night vision Nausea and vomiting (following early use or high doses) Constipation and loss of appetite Menstrual irregularity Reduced sex drive Scarring ("tracks") along veins and collapsed veins from repeated injections Irregular blood pressure Slow and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) Fatigue, breathlessness, and labored, noisy breathing due to excessive fluid in the lungs ("the rattles")

Injuries that result from engaging in any activity (such as working, driving, or operating machinery) when incapacitated by heroin use Dependence, addiction Hepatitis, AIDS, and other infections from unsanitary injection Stroke or heart attack caused by blood clots resulting from insoluble additives Respiratory paralysis, heart arrest, coma, and death from accidental overdose

5. Can Heroin Addicts Recover? Yes, they can. Treatment takes various forms, and detoxification may be needed, by some, to manage the effects of withdrawal. The main thrust of treatment, however, addresses underlying causes of drug abuse and helps recovering abusers become more self-aware, self-reliant, responsible, and able to manage stress without the "crutch" of drugs.

Drug education is the planned provision of information and skills relevant to living in a world where drugs are commonly misused. Planning includes developing strategies for helping children and young people engage with relevant drug-related issues during opportunistic and brief contacts with them as well as during more structured sessions. Drug education enables children and young adults to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to appreciate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, promote responsibility towards the use of drugs and relate these to their own actions and those of others, both now and in their future lives. It also provides opportunities for young people to reflect on their own and others' attitudes to drugs, drug usage and drug users. Drug education can be given in numerous forms, some more effective than others. Examples include advertising and awareness raising campaigns such as the UK Governments FRANK campaign. In addition there are school based drug education programs like DARE or that currently being evaluated by the UK Blueprint Programme. Drug education can also take less explicit forms; an example of this is the Positive Futures Programme, funded by the UK government as part of its drug strategy. This programme uses sport and the arts as catalysts to engage young people on their own turf, putting them in contact with positive role models (coaches/trained youth workers). After building a trusting relationship

with a young person, these role models can gradually change attitudes towards drug use and steer the young person back into education, training and employment. This approach reaches young people who have dropped out of mainstream education. It also has additional benefits for the community in reduced crime and anti-social behaviour.


The most important drugs laws in the UK are the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the Misuse of Drugs regulations made under the Act (1985), and the Medicines Act 1968. The Misuse of Drugs Act divides controlled drugs into three categories, classified according to their perceived degree of harmfulness or danger to the individual and society, with penalties varying accordingly. These categories are: Class A - includes opium, morphine, heroin, methadone, dextromoramide, methylamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD. Class B drugs such as speed prepared for injection are also included. Class B - includes codeine, amphetamine,cannabis, barbiturates and dihydrocodeine. Class C - includes mainly prescribed drugs such as tranquillisers, Ketamine and GHB. The Act gives the police powers to stop and search persons, vehicles or vessels; to obtain search warrants to search properties; to seize anything which appears to be evidence of an offence; and to arrest persons suspected of having committed an offence under the Act. The most common offence is possession of a controlled drug. This includes joint possession of a common pool of drugs and past possession, when past drug use is admitted. There is no offence if you are found in possession of a drug that you didn't know was on your person (e.g. a friend put it in your pocket) but you might have to prove this later in court. By law, the police have to prove that you knew that you had the drugs on you. More serious offences are supply and intent to supply. It's important to remember that supply can also include selling or even giving drugs to a friend. If you are caught with drugs, saying that some are for a friend makes matter worse as you could also be convicted for supply. Cultivation of cannabis is also an offence with more severe penalties if there is intent to supply. The heaviest penalties under the law are for importing and exporting drugs.


Anyone who commits an offence against the Misuse of Drugs Act can be dealt with in a number of ways. For minor offences (such as the possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal consumption), how you will be treated varies from area to area. Some police forces always prosecute first time offenders with small amounts of drugs, while others are far more lenient, offering only a caution. This is a formal acknowledgement that the person has committed an offence and acts as a warning regarding future behaviour. A caution doesn't count as a conviction, but may be brought up in future court proceedings. Details may also be disclosed to future employers if the person applies for certain types of jobs. If the person has already been cautioned for a similar offence they may have to appear before a Magistrates' Court and face a fine, suspended or short prison sentence. For the more serious offences of supplying, possessing with intent to supply or illegally bringing drugs into the country, the person would usually face a trial before a judge and jury at

a higher criminal court or Crown Court. Penalties for drug related crimes change according to the defendant's circumstances and record, but as a guide, these are the maximum penalties: Class A: The maximum for possession is 7 years imprisonment with an unlimited fine, and for supply, life imprisonment and an unlimited fine. Class B: The maximum for possession is 5 years or a fine or both, and for supply, 14 years' imprisonment or a fine or both. 1.The Medicines Act Some of the drugs used on the dance scene are covered by the above act. It is not illegal to possess various drugs such as Ketamine and Amyl Nitrate, but any unauthorised manufacture and distribution of these substances are possibly offences. 2.Drugs and Driving Under the Road Traffic Act it is an offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle when unfit through drugs. If found guilty there's an obligatory 12 month's disqualification and a fine. If you are involved in an incident whilst under the influence, stiffer penalties will apply (you are classed as being in charge of a vehicle even if you're crashed out in the back seat snoozing).


The Romantics' furtive flirtation with opium around the close of the eighteenth century was a period when drugs and inspiration seemed to go together. Opium was ethically neutral; it was just another medicine with unexpected side effects. The drug is mentioned not only famously by Shakespeare in Othello - "Not poppy nor mandragora / Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world / Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep / Which thou owedst yesterday" - but also by Chaucer, Sir Thomas Browne, and Robert Burton. Moreover, in her book, Opium and the Romantic Imagination, where he explains the antiquity of opium as a painkiller and soporific, Althea Hayter quotes a slightly dotty Doctor John Jones who published a book in 1700 called The Mysteries of Opium Reveal'd in which he claimed it could cure or relieve: "gout, dropsy, catarrh, ague, asthma, fevers of all kinds, travel sickness, stone, colic, measles, rheumatism, and even plague, as well as psychological troubles like hypochondria and insomnia. He listed the different preparations of opium then in use: Venice Treacle, Mithridate, Sydenham Laudanum, Dr. Bate's Pacific Pill, London Laudanum, and so on". In other words, two centuries ago, opium was generally available as a cure for everything. It was like aspirin; every household had some, usually in the form of laudanum - that is, mixed with alcohol - and used it as an analgesic for aches and pains, for hangovers, toothache, and hysteria. Shelley drank laudanum to calm his nervous headaches, Keats used it as a painkiller, Byron took an opium-based concoction called Kendal Black Drop as a tranquilizer; even Jane Austen's sedate mother prescribed it for travel sickness. Wordsworth - not surprisingly - seems to have been the only major English Romantic poet never to have touched the stuff.


Naturally, the general availability of opium and the medical profession's enthusiasm for it helped create literary addicts - Coleridge and De Quincy were the best known - but they also included that most sober poet, George Crabbe. (Oddly enough, William Blake, the hippies hero, was not an opium-eater; but then, he was so eccentric that he started where opium left off.) All, however, were addicts despite themselves, not by design but by mistake, by misfortune, by chance. At a time when doctors had no concept of addiction, there was nothing to alert their patients to the dangers of the patent medicines they prescribed or to prepare them for the side effects. As a result, there was no more stigma attached to the opium habit than to alcoholism; it was an unfortunate weakness, not a vice. It also fitted in with the Romantics' newfound absorption in the inner world. To simplify grossly, the Romantic movement began around the time of the French Revolution and, like the revolution, it was founded on an idea of freedom - a freedom to feel, to react in a personal and unpredictable way, without reference to classical precedent. When Pope, for example, talked about "the World" he meant polite society; for Shelley the world usually meant untamed nature with a shivering sensibility at its center. I am talking about a profound shift of focus, away from established certainties and toward subjective experience. The essence of Romantic genius is revelation and the exultation and certainty that go with it. Although the word "unconscious" had not yet entered the language in its modern sense, poets believed that a hotline to their dream life was a necessary part of their professional equipment. Especially Coleridge, who was a lifelong martyr to nightmares so terrible that he was afraid to sleep and often woke up screaming. These nightmares had started when he was a small child and no doubt, like other small children at the time, he was dosed with some opium-based snake oil to calm him down. So when he began taking laudanum again 20 years later, to cure an agonizing eye infection, he would have recognized the landscape. This was in 1796, when he was 24, unhappily married and suffering from a bad dose of the writer's sickness that C. K. Ogden called "hand-to-mouth disease"--lack of money, deadlines, printer's errors, anxiety about the next book. From then on, he gradually became addicted to opium, which duly changed and intensified the nightmares. Coleridge was always a wonderfully subtle observer and interpreter of his own states of mind--both a psychoanalyst and an analysand avant la lettre--and part of his genius was his ability to use his underlife--his dreams and anxieties, and also his prodigious learning--not just for images but as a source of poetry, as a way of re-creating the strangeness of the inner world. Out of his addict's pains of sleep he created--implicitly, though not formally--a new aesthetic. In other words, for intellectual and highly self-aware writers like Coleridge, altered states of consciousness were a source of fresh artistic inspiration and they had aesthetic consequences. In the early stages of addiction the link was obvious and fruitful. Coleridge's famous description of the genesis of "Kubla Khan" is at once a paradigm of Romantic inspiration and also, incidentally, a most seductive come-on for the use of drugs as a shortcut to creativity:
In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment when he was reading the following sentence ... in "Purchas's Pilgrimage": "Here the Kubla Khan commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto. And thus ten miles of fertile ground were enclosed with a wall." The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed could be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expression, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awakening


he appeared to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved (Coleridge, 1957: 296).

The resulting poem is a prime example of what Freud called "dream work": condensation and elision, thoughts expressed as "things," thinking acted out dramatically as in a charade, all of it dredged up from the unconscious and drenched with feeling and significance. Although "Kubla Khan" was a one-off phenomenon, Coleridge learned from it and it had a profound effect on the two great poems that followed. "The Ancient Mariner" and "Christabel" are steeped in hallucination and dreams: nightmare shifts of focus like the swift, secret, chilling transformation of the face of "the lovely lady Geraldine" into a serpent's ("One moment--and the sight was fled!"), or of the ocean into a putrid pond ("The very deep did rot: O Christ! / That ever this should bel / Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs / Upon the slimy sea."); also hallucinatory distortions of time and place, such as the Mariner's eternity becalmed, then his seemingly overnight flit from the Pacific to England. Coleridge's notebooks are full of shrewd comments on "the language of Dream = Night [and] that of Waking = Day," and he had a genius for using his experiences under opium to fuse together what he called the ego diurnus and the ego nocturnus, the day-self and the night-self. The result was a genuinely altered state of aesthetic consciousness, a precursor of the systematic deregulation of the senses that Rimbaud talked about later. These three great poems were written during the relatively blissful honeymoon period when opium was still a source of inspiration for Coleridge, an enabler of his imagination. The dreams that came later, when he was seriously addicted, were altogether more threatening and unforgiving, like those described by De Quincy in The Confessions of an English OpiumEater:. The habit had killed what Coleridge called his "shaping spirit of imagination" --his emotional energy, his delight in poetry, his appetite for life. He wrote one great poem, "Dejection," about the inner desolation that drug addiction creates, then, despite reams of indifferent verse, he turned mostly to prose. But he knew precisely what he had lost. In 1815, with all his great poems behind him, he wrote in his notebook, "If a man could pass thro' Paradise in a Dream & have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his Soul had really been there, and found that flower in his hand when he awoke--Aye! and what then?" I think the paradise he was talking about was the period of seemingly effortless opium-fueled inspiration and the great poems he produced in his youthful prime. And the flower in his hand was a poppy. To repeat, because opium-based medicines were commonplace at the end of the eighteenth century, they came without moral baggage; like alcohol, the stigma was in the excessive use, not in the drugs themselves. Coleridge may have ended up as an addict but only by accident and he was not initially interested in opium in or for itself. Like any writer, of course, he was enraptured by the idea of blissful, effortless inspiration, but he was interested even more in the states of mind drugs produced -insights, images, hallucinations, and all the other strange mental disjunctions that were part of the mystery of the self the Romantics, at the end of the classical eighteenth century, were suddenly free to explore.


RENTON: Who needs reasons when you have heroin?

Drug films are films that depict drug usage, either as a major theme or as a few memorable scenes. Drug cinema ranges from the ultra-realistic to the utterly surreal; some movies are unabashedly pro- or anti-drug, while others are less judgmental. The drugs most commonly shown in films are alcohol, cocaine, heroin, LSD, cannabis and methamphetamine. British cinema has a structured approach to substance abuse,linking this practice with the collapse of education, family disintegration and the demise of English industrial cities in the last 20 years. Looking not so far back, examples of movies which displayed a miserabilist approach to drug use come to mind. We can of course mention "Nil by Mouth"(1997) or even "Rise of the Footsoldier"(2007), but I'm more prone to think of "Trainspotting" as example of the same ethos when it comes to urban-suburban (self) destructive lifestyles. A movie like Trainspotting has a, lets say, sophisticated approach to drug use.Its' realistic style, use of language and unflinching portrayal of drug use was what first attracted me to look at it a bit closer. Based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, it tells the story of a group of working class unemployed drug addicts, focusing on their problems with drug abuse, inability to get a job and family problems. Set in Edinburgh in the early nineties, Danny Boyle's (director) style is undoubtedly extremely realistic, fairly disgusting and at times, shocking. By dealing with heroin, "Trainspotting" encompasses the mentality of the acid culture - drugsfor-fun, hedonism and deliberate youthful rebellion. The links between heroin abuse and the club scene are made more obvious when Renton (Ewan McGregor) visits a London nightspot. Surrounded by thumping house music and anxiously dancing punters, he finds empathy: "In a thousand years there'll be no girls and no guys, just wankers," a thought he finds rather appealing. "Trainspotting" takes a pragmatic approach to drug use, capturing the exhausting, intensely uncomfortable daily routine of a group of heroin addicts (Mark Renton, Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson, Daniel "Spud" Murphy, Francis "Franco" Begbie, Davie Mitchell, Tommy Laurence). They stay together because of this common goal and it is not an attractive sight. Nonetheless, Boyle combines the macabre with the comical, and blurs the boundaries between realism and fantasy - notably in the scene where Mark Renton (the protagonist), to retrieve a lost suppository, plunges through the 'worst toilet in Scotland' and into a deep blue abyss. The final Act has the film trying to form a drug-selling plot which ends the friendship between the clique and has Renton choosing to stay off drugs and lead a normal life. Contrary to popular opinion, I would hardly classify "Trainspotting" as an "anti-drug film".In "Trainspotting", there are new characteristics attempted for the first time, one of which being showing the good side to heroin as well as the bad. On the one hand,"Trainspotting" shows heroin as an escape for the protagonists - both from the responsibilities of life and from the restricting paths society has mapped out for


them.Trainspotting does not glamorise drug abuse, but still manages to force us to look at the reasons behind it.In the first opening speech, Renton says the famous: "Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family[...]Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that?", which is so utterly satirical that it becomes amazing. Renton's narration confirms his hatred of the mundane existence Britain offers and the film's power lies in its ability to make us question the values we have been taught to hold dear - materialism, career, marriage, children. "Trainspotting" shows the pro-sides of being on drugs. The forgetfullness of life. The pleasure. Then it turns right on the other hand and shows all the billions of down-sides. Firstly, life`s rules imply responsibility, which people cannot avoid by consuming drugs - represantative, in this way, is the scene when the heroin addicted women wakes up finding her baby dead from her not caring for it. Secondly, heroin highly increases the risk of getting AIDS, which happens to Tommy, the only character who picks up the habit later on and dies in a tragic way, thus being emphasized the ironic touch of the film. Another negative effect of the drugs is its impact on relationships - the friendship between the characters, based on the common heroin use, is finally destroyed by the same drug. Regarding its title (trainspotting = a hobby that consists of collecting the numbers of railroad locomotives), "Trainspotting" is a reference to an episode where Begbie and Renton meet "an auld drunkard" in the disused Leith Central railway station, which they are visiting to use as a toilet. He asks them if they are "trainspottin", as Renton is urinating onto the stonework. Trains have not run to Leith since 1952. As they walk away from the drunk, Renton realises the drunk is Begbie's father. Highlight in the history of British cinema, "Trainspotting" is a "depiction of the squalid depravities and exploitative self interest that characterises the everyday life of heroin addiction" and, at the same time, shows how subjective experiences, enhanced by drugs, can be a valuable source of humour.


The initial focus of my paper was on the multitude of negative effects of drugs, but in my personal contribution I wrote about the positive impact they had on art (Romantic literature and cinema).

It is clear that the use of illegal drugs in the UK has grown exponentially since 1960. Illicit drugs are predominantly consumed by teenagers and young adults, reason for which prevention programmes are oriented towards younger population in order to postpone as much as possible the start of consumption. It is also clear that the greatest growth in drug use has followed, rather than led, the legal prohibitions. Surely, this fact alone makes the general argument that outright prohibition has not worked in the UK and encourages the search for alternative means of overcoming the misuse of drug problems. One alternative way is, as I previously mentioned, Drug Education programmes which provide for easy, clean access to drug treatments and do not insist upon abstinence. Another way is giving free heroin looks too radical. For more than two decades, UK heroin addicts have been able to obtain medical treatment with a nonopiate drug, methadone. But as the UK government has prohibited this drug too, many individuals lives were destroyed. Regarding the link between drugs and art, when speaking of literature, it consist of the inspiration opium gave to the Romantic writers in a period when it was considered unharmful, was just another medicine with unexpected side effects. When it
comes to the cinema, drugs inspired British thematic films, which display various approaches to drug use and many of which became highlights in the history of the British cinema.


Petrie, D. Contemporary Scottish Fictions: Film Television and the Novel. Edinburgh University Press; Edinburgh: 2004. Street, S. British National Cinema. Routledge; London: 1997 Hayter, Althea. Opium and the Romantic Imagination. London: Faber, 1968.