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Craig - Interview 18

Age at interview: 22
Brief Outline: Craig rebelled against his diabetes by smoking cannabis and getting into other drugs. He has had DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) several times, mainly because of his use of drugs and alcohol. He said that young people can help health professionals by just being honest.
Background: Craig lives with mum and dad and works part-time in a newsagent. Ethnic background: White British.

More about me...

 
Craig started getting high on cannabis with his friends when he was fifteen, and had been drinking and getting drunk before then. He smoked cigarettes from the age of thirteen or fourteen. He tried cocaine for a while, as well as ketamine, MDMA, speed, and ecstasy. Looking back, he says that it was seemed good idea at the time, but he does regret getting deeply involved with drugs. He doesn’t regret trying them, he says: “…life is about experimentation...if you keep control. If you start losing it, you need to get help". He stopped taking drugs at eighteen, and turned to drink.
 
Craig doesn't think he started to take drugs because of pressure from others, but because was rebelling against his diabetes, which he had been diagnosed with as a baby. He would sometimes miss injections or couldn’t tell if his blood sugar was getting low. He has had DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) thirteen times, mostly through the effects of taking drugs or alcohol. When taken to hospital, he had to tell the truth about taking drugs or alcohol, to receive the proper treatment. He thinks that young people can help health professionals just by being honest. When you talk to healthcare professionals there is doctor/patient confidentiality, and they are there to help you.

Craig is about to start receiving treatment for his mental health problems. His depression started when he was seventeen and he was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) when he was about twenty. At twenty-two he now wants to settle down, get trained in something, and start a career.  
 

Craig smoked cannabis for the first time when celebrating after finishing his GCSE exams.

Craig smoked cannabis for the first time when celebrating after finishing his GCSE exams.

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I suppose I started messing about with drugs probably when I was about 15. I turned 16 just as I was in the middle of the exams so it would have been just before then. It was just more of a case of hanging out with my mates, exploring new things and, you know, getting high for the sake of getting high partially for celebratory that we’d finished school and you’d finally finished the two years of GCSEs, three in some cases and partially, you know, that kind of teenage rebellion kind of thing.
 
It was cannabis.
 
Cannabis?
 
Cannabis to start with yes.
 
How did you obtain it?
 
Literally I started smoking cigarettes when I was about 14, 13/14. So it was just a natural thing for me and, you know, we were just sat in a group and a spliff was passed around. So of course it got to me and I thought, ‘Why not. You only live once.’ Yeah so it was just, it was mates and then as I started liking it more and more I started buying it myself and I got people’s numbers off of my friends who were able to get it or at parties and stuff like that. 
 

Craig has experimented with quite a few illegal drugs but thinks his paranoia is mostly due to smoking cannabis.

Craig has experimented with quite a few illegal drugs but thinks his paranoia is mostly due to smoking cannabis.

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When you started taking drugs what type of drugs?
 
It was cannabis.
 
Cannabis?
 
Cannabis to start with yes.
 
How did you obtain it?
 
Literally I started smoking cigarettes when I was about 14, 13/14. So it was just a natural thing for me and, you know, we were just sat in a group and a spliff was passed around. So of course it got to me and I thought, ‘Why not. You only live once.’ Yeah so it was just, it was mates and then as I started liking it more and more I started buying it myself and I got people’s numbers off of my friends who were able to get it or at parties and stuff like that.
 
Have you tried any other drugs?
 
Yes I have. I’ve tried cocaine. I was on cocaine for quite a while it was probably about two or three months and it got so bad that I actually, a couple of times felt withdrawal when I was at work and actually did a couple of lines at work. I’ve also done hash or hashish, whatever you want to call it, magic mushrooms, ketamine, MDMA or ‘mandy’ whatever you want to call it, speed, ecstasy. I’ve done quite a few. Looking back it seemed like a good idea at the time but now it’s just, it’s not, it’s not the best of ideas. And I do regret, I do regret getting deeply involved with them. I don’t regret trying them because I believe life’s all about experimentation. It’s ok if you can keep control but the second you start losing it you really need to get help and I didn’t.
 
I mean I from, I mean from chronic use of cannabis I have developed paranoia. And you know I do, I do still occasionally smoke it but not on the scale that I was back then.
 
How do you know that you, it was through smoking cannabis that you developed that?
 
Well I suppose everybody was telling me it is. So I did a bit of looking into it and found out that it was. But I think it accelerated. I was already a little bit paranoid anyway through school and that but I think that kind of accelerated it.
 
Can you tell me more about it? I mean the symptoms and how you felt and...?
 
Oh. Say walking, say walking home, say you pass a group of people or you know, young kids. It’s kind of really, even when you’ve passed them your ears are up and alert listening about or, you know, looking around to see in the shadows kind of thing because you don’t know what’s around the next corner so your imagination runs overtime. You go down the road thought...
 
How long after you started smoking cannabis you...?
 
A few years
 
A few years?
 
It was a few years after I started smoking cannabis I became paranoid. 
 

Craig thinks that some young people find illegal drugs appealing and, like alcohol for the under eighteens, they may enjoy it more because it’s prohibited.

Craig thinks that some young people find illegal drugs appealing and, like alcohol for the under eighteens, they may enjoy it more because it’s prohibited.

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Do you think it has something to do with the boundaries between legal and non-legal?
 
I think with young people under 18 definitely, definitely is because I mean it’s been said before. Once you turn 18 you start drinking. It gets a bit boring because even if you’re caught you can just whip out your passport and you’re old enough whereas before it was kind of on edge kind of. You enjoyed it more because it was prohibited.
 
Do you think that something similar happens to drugs?
 
I think it does. I think kind of, I mean it has been said that if more people smoked cannabis at the time of legalisation of tobacco and alcohol then it would be legal now. I mean I don’t see it as an overly dangerous drug but I see it as a gateway, gateway drug.
 
I mean young people who mess about with, you know, the cigarettes and the alcohol that’s cool. Let them do it. With the drugs you kind of, you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for. You know you’ve got to get in there. You’ve got to go and buy it off some dodgy bloke [laugh], who can, you know, you don’t know where you’re going and you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for. So that’s kind of, that’s the kind of unknown element but at that age you don’t really care. 
 

Craig is far more aware of the dangers of cocaine now. He is also convinced that smoking cannabis caused his paranoia.

Craig is far more aware of the dangers of cocaine now. He is also convinced that smoking cannabis caused his paranoia.

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I mean if somebody came up to me now and said, ‘Do you want some cocaine’? I mean I’d probably smack them in the face to be completely honest with you because I do not agree with it anymore. I mean I’ve been there. I’ve tried it et cetera but I’m a lot more aware of the dangers of it now rather than I was when I was taking it. You know, it’s a foreign body being taken into you. I mean with the smoking it’s not healthy but your body can take it. Whereas you’re snorting something up your nose you know, it’s that close to the brain, I mean that’s quite scary. I didn’t know that by then and if I had known that I probably wouldn’t have gone down that route and tried so much.
 
If somebody comes to you and said that they don’t believe that smoking cannabis is associated with paranoia what would you tell them?
 
I’d probably say there’s two routes you can go down. You can try it yourself and find out the hard way or I would sit them down and tell them my story and hopefully they’ve listened because I can be very persuasive sometimes when I truly believe in the cause. And even if I can prevent one person from developing a mental health condition or, and /or paranoia then that’s a good thing.
 
 

When Craig worked at a bookmakers, he and his colleague took it in turns to have regular breaks in the pub

When Craig worked at a bookmakers, he and his colleague took it in turns to have regular breaks in the pub

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When I changed it was, it would go from when I was working at the bookmakers, the bookies. I worked with a, with I wouldn’t say elderly gentleman but he was in his 60s and yeah he liked, he liked a pint. So his break was to go down have a pint, come back. So we would start drinking probably about. He would start drinking at 11'00. I would start drinking at 12'00. So he would have his lunch break at 11'00. I’d have mine at 12'00. He’d go down the pub. I’d go down the pub. A couple of hours later all we fancied was a 15 minute cigarette break which was go and have a pint. So he’d come back. I’d go and have a pint and it would keep going on all afternoon especially if we were doing the eleven/twelve/thirteen-hour shifts. And you know, over the course of a day we would have, at work probably about 8 or 9 pints and we, because it was spread out and we would have food with it, you know, it affected us a little bit but not to an extent that we were falling over. And then, you know, half past nine would come, we’d cash up and then go down the pub for the evening. And then next day start all over again. So, you know, it got the point where there was about 15/20 pints a day. Yeah. Yeah quite a bit.
 
And this was throughout a working day?
 
Yeah.
 
Ok.
 
Yeah the non-working day was not brilliant. The non-working day you’re talking probably about between 20 and 30 pints of lager or beer which ever.
 
Ok for how long did you keep that up?
 
Three months.
 
Three months. You worked there for 3 months or?
 
No I left about 2 weeks before I ended the, before I ended it.
 
Why did you leave?
 
I got fed up[laugh]. It was very boring. It was a very quiet site in the middle of a tiny little town. You saw the same people every day and then by half past one it was dead until 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock and then you had about an hour’s rush and then you had to sit there for a couple of hours while people were playing on the roulette machines not talking to us, not placing any bets just popping the money in the machine but then off they’d go at half nine and that was our day. And, you know, it’s ok but if you work with the same person for 40 hours a week there’s only so much you can talk about. 
 

Craig thinks that people need to be honest with health professionals about their drug use.

Craig thinks that people need to be honest with health professionals about their drug use.

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What happened when you went to hospital?
 
I told the truth because they can’t help you if you don’t tell the truth. They said, ‘Have you been drinking?’ ‘Yup’. ‘How many?’ So I told them how many. ‘Anything else?’ And of course when they say anything else you know what they mean. So it’s like, ‘Yeah I’ve had three spliffs or’. So of course then the questions come. ‘Hashish, cannabis, resin, anything like that?’
 
What was their attitude?
 
I think everybody has got a kind of. Talking to doctors about drugs or heavy alcohol use is essentially a taboo, you kind of limit what you say. You kind of halve it. I think they appreciated my honesty and I think they actually liked that, you know, somebody they could work with to get over the problems that the DKA so they could know how to treat me. So of course if I hadn’t have told them that I didn’t have alcohol or drugs in my system and they’d put me on a different drug it could have gone horribly wrong. So it’s always best to be honest.
 
 

When Craig's grandmother found out he was using cannabis, she told him never to bring it home. But she looked after him if he came back stoned.

When Craig's grandmother found out he was using cannabis, she told him never to bring it home. But she looked after him if he came back stoned.

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I think people are more scared of their parents finding out or grandparents to be honest. I was more scared when my Nan found out that I was using rather than my Mum and Dad.
 
Why?
 
She hurts. She doesn’t stand. She’s very old fashioned. She doesn’t stand for any of that nonsense. And literally it doesn’t matter how big or hard you are she will cut you down in the sentence. So I think that’s. Also the fear of disappointment of letting people down that you’ve gone down this road. But the longer you go down that road the worse you’re going to feel for it. If you turn around and say, ‘Hang on I know I’ve done wrong. I’m using. I need help.’ For you to say those, that, those three sentences then you should be alright and then you can get the help you need and hopefully come out better on the other side.
 
I was concerned about what my Grandmother would think.
 
Does she know about it?
 
Yes.
 
And what was her reaction?
 
I think her exact words were, ‘Ever bring drugs into this house again and you’re out.’ Simple.
 
So do you live with your Grandmother?
 
I do yes.
 
She was quite clear about that?
 
She was very clear about it. She never, ever, ever allowed me to smoke it in the house. She never allowed me to roll it in the house, coined it up, anything like that. I could bring it on me as long as she didn’t smell it. You know I could come home stoned. That was fine. She’d look after me. I mean even now, even now I know. I know she’s not fully ok with it but even now I’m wary when I come home stoned. I try and act sober. 
 

Craig decided to quit smoking cannabis everyday because it was costing too much.

Craig decided to quit smoking cannabis everyday because it was costing too much.

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I mean it did get quite bad so I would always have stuff on me. Usually, you know, I dabbled in the heavier type of stuff but there was always cannabis like on me.
 
Normally I would like kind of rolled so I’d have one maybe waiting for the bus or, you know, that kind of thing. It became like a cigarette to me. When I realised how much I was spending on it I kind of realised I needed to stop.
 
And how often are you doing cannabis now?
 
As I said I haven’t done it for a week and a half. Previous to that it was maybe one or two a day if that.
 
Before it was one, two a day?
 
One, two a day, a couple of days I’d go without, no biggie. I mean I can go, I can go without now. I mean I could give up. I don’t know how long for, to be perfectly honest, as long as I’ve got kind of cigarettes I should be alright.
 
I mean I know that’s not healthy either but it’s slightly healthier than cannabis and it’s legal so that’s good. That’s always a better thing. 
 

Craig asks that health professionals listen and don’t judge young people.

Craig asks that health professionals listen and don’t judge young people.

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What I would say is health professionals I would [sigh] listen to the young people. Don’t cast opinions when they mention drugs or alcohol, you know, if they’re under 18. Cigarettes as well, saying that ‘Do you smoke?’ ‘Yeah’. You immediately get a bad rapport with the doctor. I mean health professionals need, they need to be more lenient and they need to be more open to discuss things. Keep, if you imagine say you’re 15, you’ve just had a really bad trip on acid or whatever and you know, you’re really worried about what it’s done to you. You know you go in, you’re going to be scared. You know you’ve got this big bloke in a suit in front of you with loads of letters after his name and you don’t know. You know what I mean. It’s like you don’t know what’s going to happen if you are going to get in trouble with the police, obviously state the confidentiality thing and just make them feel at ease. Let them have their own time. Don’t rush them. Just really kind of, you know, make sure if even if they can’t talk about it have leaflets with organisations numbers on your wall or on the table in front of you or spread out where they can see them. Just, just be patient, I mean, patience be patient with your patient kind of thing.
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