by Elizabeth Oldfield
Monday, 31
May 2021
Spotted
15:00

Gen Z: Puritanical about everything except drugs

Cocaine use among young people is at a 16-year high
by Elizabeth Oldfield
Credit: Getty

The dark underbelly of middle-aged, middle class drug habits was displayed last week, after a major police operation against “county lines” drug dealing — the movement of drugs, mostly cocaine, from urban centres to rural markets. These activities exploit vulnerable people, using them as couriers and their homes to deal and store drugs. This week alone nearly 1000 of these “cuckooed” homes were visited, and “1,138 vulnerable people were safeguarded, including 573 children.”

The relaxed attitudes of Gen X and Millennials towards drug taking are well documented. The nineties and noughties saw a libertarian attitude to personal morality take hold in which the ‘live and let live’ served as a generational creed. This period also led to a rise of sex-positivity and porn-positivity, and judgementalism becoming the most mortal of sins.

So what is going on? Surely a generation uniquely attuned to justice for the vulnerable and marginalised, animals and the planet should care about the knock-on effects of their cocaine habit? A Gen Z friend told me that “friends my age think cocaine is ‘better value for money’ than booze, and it’s easier to perform the next day”.

His hunch is that the reduction in risk-taking behaviour, which at first glance might seem to relate to morality, is perhaps instead what he called “market optimised behaviour” — making choices based on risk-aversion and hyper-awareness of the demands of an always-on, always-attractive, always-optimising culture. It’s telling that more young people care about getting good grades or succeeding in their chosen career (82%) than spending time with their friends (68%) (according to a British Pregnancy Advisory Service survey).

The rise in cocaine use may indicate that this pre-occupation with performance has definite dark side. Perhaps the idea that Gen Z might save us from our worst selves was too much to hope for.

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Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

Drugs are presumably GenZ’s only consolation for being so damn puritan in the first place. Saddled with guilt, spied on by snitches, upbraided for “micro-aggressions” and isolated from their wider families by the demands of a crazed, witch-hunting ideology, they have little other means of enduring life. It’s either pot or going to pot, for them.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
1 year ago

This is a very confused article. It starts by saying that the cocaine epidemic is driven by the middle-aged, and then descends into hand wringing about younger people, who the author bizarrely thought were going to save all us oldies from ourselves, but won’t now because they are out of their minds on blow. Or something.
Or perhaps the author had been enjoying a free sample?

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
1 year ago

It’s telling that more young people care about getting good grades or succeeding in their chosen career (82%) than spending time with their friends (68%)

I actually think thats a pretty good thing. they have learnt from their parents watching those on the left, remainers etc that loyalty of friends seem to be conditional on agreeing with what they say and therefore they are not in any real way friends anyway. I think gen-z will have real friends based on actions rather than virtue signalling.

Fredrick Urbanelli
Fredrick Urbanelli
1 year ago

If it’s true that the use of cocaine is so out-of-control, then how can it also be true that GenZ is the most financially challenged generation in the last 50 years? The last time I was actually paying attention to these things, cocaine was a ruinously expensive drug. Someone please help me to understand. Thanks.

Susannah Baring Tait
Susannah Baring Tait
1 year ago

Broke? Perhaps, because they were spending it all on drugs?

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago

I thought all those celebs claimed they were financially ruined by their drug habit ,’ my years of torment ‘-were they paying too much , is there a price comparison site.?

Peter Ian Staker
Peter Ian Staker
1 year ago

“market optimised behaviour” is a good phrase, another one could be ‘social media optimised behaviour’. Both these things have increased over recent years and can be used to understand inter-generational differences. I don’t think there have been many ‘influencers’ or a trendy netflix show on the effects of cocaine but also people can’t display their virtue not taking cocaine unlike with veganism etc.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Ian Staker
David Mallinson
David Mallinson
1 year ago

Just announced in the US: The legal Marijuana market last year reached $15 billion – up 46% on prior year. Well, the demand for drugs is certainly there! Coming to the UK within the next ten years is my pick…..

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago

An article on New York said they hoped to attract younger visiters by selling legal Marijuana, who can have a nice time watching the homeless-an update on Hogarth’s gin alley.. After the pink boat affair ( to save the world from Oxford Street) it was said they all went to a nearby park & you could see & smell a cloud of the stuff. This apparent acceptance of drugs explains why the government didn’t stop people coming in -got to get your fentanyl & stuff from somewhere.Why not legalize the stuff , make it here & use certain firms to deliver it to named customers. Would stop all those ‘vulnerable’ people storing it at half way houses & parents could check up on their darlings homework & drug taking at the same time.

David Foot
David Foot
1 year ago

It is a demonstrable fact that prohibition causes all that damage which is pointed out in the article, while not reducing that much the consumption of drugs: Damage of criminality all over the place and in addition to the damage which the abuse of the drugs may cause.
This was observed in USA with the alcohol prohibition, which didn’t prohibit anything but enhanced criminality by financing it no end. Drugs prohibition have over the past century armed criminals much more than with the case of alcohol in USA, criminals today control countries, have air forces, navies including submarines, weapons which the third world countries can’t afford and the icing on the cake is that the drugs consumed by adults and kids are manufactured by criminals.. what could go wrong?
All that can go wrong has gone wrong and we have seen it! We need adutls not bible thumpers to grab hold of reality and go back to before the war on drugs started and go back to selling properly manufactured products in the chemists as we did up to 1914 when the war on drugs was started and was lost there and then, the State never stood a chance. Good Queen Vic was partial to heroine, and look at the job she went and done! Fantastic! Shouldn’t we look in to this a bit more as well?
Not only the advantages pointed out, also safely produced drugs can be taxed, the police will need help to find them something to do, the courts as well and those who can’t control their habit can be treated by the health service not by the courts and the health service and the prison service.
We need to move on from an obnoxious idea that the state can tell people what they can and what they can’t consume, it never worked. This principle is flawed. Stop funding crime and wasting money on police who can’t do the job any way. All this has been demonstrated, I can’t see why we haven’t moved on to something better in more than a century of proven failure.
Me? For anybody who asks I have never even experimented with drugs myself except alcohol, because I believe that it is bad to have anything which may control my will and also because of what I have seen drugs do to others, but that damage was done, no law stopped it, the police didn’t either, the life of somebody who I loved a lot was ruined.