Drugs were popularised in the 1960’s by music and mass media, they have been part of our culture for many years. However, young people today are being exposed earlier than ever to them. There are various reasons why people take drugs with the most popular being “to fit in”. Although this seems bizarre, considering drugs alter perceptions and give users a false sense of their surrounding environment.
How do drugs affect people?
The population in England and Wales is around 56.6 million, out of these at least 2.7 million people have taken a drug within the last year. In 2014 at least 5% of the worldwide population between 15-64 had used at least 1 drug. Drug abuse has a high death rate… there were 3,764 drug poisoning deaths in England and Wales during 2015. Sadly, three times more males died than females and Heroin/ morphine was the biggest killer. (DrugWise, 2017)
Drugs do not only affect the lives of those taking them, they have an impact on those around them too. Many criminal offences are carried out by those under the influence of drugs, in fact 80% of inmates in the USA were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the point of crime. (NCADD, 2015)
How drugs have an impact on events
Recently, drugs have been having major impacts on events and event venues. Event managers are frequently introducing and implementing extra security including extra bag checks, sniffer dogs and other drug detection devices. However, even with these extra checks it is proving difficult to ensure a thorough check is being carried out on every person. Whether it is a small or large scale event crowd control is always a huge task that takes time so with the extra checks in place it delays the process even more.
In September 2016, the Fabric Nightclub in Islington was closed following the deaths of 2 teenagers due to drug overdoses. (IB Times, 2016) After a lengthy review of the nightclub and secret investigations the council found that checks were not being done correctly and attendees were openly selling and taking drugs within the venue. However, there is a lot of controversy that surrounds the situation as there are many different opinions and perceptions. Some people were happy with the closure and others left angry and upset. Due to the club being very popular among celebrity dance acts and being in London it attracted a lot of attention. Chase & Status commented: “It’s the early 90s garbage again – the law demonising clubs and raves with an archaic view on drugs and the youth.” (BBC, 2016) They believe that due to those breaking the law with drug misuse at events, is ruining it for everyone else as the police have to take action in some way to deal with the problems. They also feel that their views on drugs at events and clubs are old-fashioned as they are not keeping up with the times.
Drugs are becoming increasingly popular and is a huge issue to deal with therefore, closing one club is not going to stop people taking drugs completely, it will just cause a shift to another venue or event.
Although it was clear there was an issue with drugs, did the venue really need to be closed? This has caused panic for many event and venue managers across London as they fear they may be next to be closed. According to The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) nearly half of the UK’s nightclubs have closed over the past 10 years. However, there are fears of this setting precedent and more clubs and events to be affected by these closures.
Bad reviews can also affect the reputation of an event, especially as nowadays these reviews are easily viewed online on websites such as Trip Advisor. A father recently took his young family to the ‘family- friendly’ music and science Bluedot festival in Manchester. However, when he arrived he was surrounded by scores of people smoking cannabis. When he approached the security to express his concerns they just told these people to stop. These people instead just carried on in a more discreet manner and away from the security. (Slater, 2016) From this experience, this family will not return to this event in future years and I am sure they were not the only people affected and that will not return.
How can drugs be controlled?
Bladen et al (2012) has suggested a 4 Step Drug control strategy could be implemented to event venues:
- Preventing– By providing guidelines for venue/ event managers to create a safe environment.
- Informing– Display campaigns aimed at drug users and effects these can have on them.
- Supporting– Provide areas where attendees can have some space to ‘chill out’. Users could use this space to ask for help and gain support (from fully qualified support workers)
- Monitoring– Staff aware of the effects, temperature controlled and free water supplied.
Although this strategy could help to tackle the problem of drug usage at events, these measures could be extremely costly. Venues and organisers would make less profit- Can they justify free bottles of water and wages for support workers?