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Rave Mums & Dads - Is It Ever OK For Parents To Take Drugs Recreationally?

Illustrated by Assa Ariyoshi.
Some people have kids, move to the country and appreciate the fresh air. Others keep one foot in the rave, going on the occasional night out and continuing to use the same substances (alcohol, drugs) that they always did. A survey in 2014 showed that half of active drug users were aged 16-34 and around 40% were in the higher echelons of society. There are some young parents who aren't willing to give up their old pastimes and so still do drugs recreationally. Is it ok, or understandable, for them to remove themselves from their responsibilities from time to time?

Bryony, a 31-year-old mother of two from London, says no, it's not. Although she used to do drugs such as coke and MDMA prior to having kids, she thinks people shouldn't do them once they become a parent. "Parents shouldn't be in a mind-altering state. I would never, ever, ever do class A drugs anymore," she says. "I just feel it's an old part of my life, it's a party lifestyle. I've got young kids who need me. I'm not going to get to the point where I can't answer my phone if they need help."

How about her friendship groups, do those with kids think the same as her? "Do I know any parents still doing drugs? No," she says. "I'd be surprised at other people doing that. There's a stigma around it because, when does it stop? If your kids are 16 and they find out you are still doing that, how are you going to set an example? When do you draw the line under being too old to do drugs? I think you should be grown up enough not to need drugs when you have kids."
Others don't see it as so black and white. Jack, a 34-year-old father of two from Manchester says that although his drug taking has changed since he had kids, he still thinks it's acceptable to do it every now and again. "I keep it completely separate. I would never do drugs at home," he says. "But I'd say people of our generation, especially people in cities like Manchester and London, regard it in maybe the same way people used to view drinking – that it's what you do and you just moderate it once you have kids."

Taking drugs doesn't necessarily mean you get out of control. However, it can escalate, despite that not being the intention. "Recently, I was given a line of ketamine thinking it was coke. I was drunk and that just knocked me out," says Jack. "But I wouldn't call that a massive binge. I just can't imagine myself going on a massive coke binge or taking pills for three days, like some of my friends with kids do."
In some creative circles, drugs are very much the norm amongst twenty and thirty-somethings. Katy, a 29-year-mother of two, says that although she'Il never be anti-drugs, she can't imagine doing them now. "I miss partying but I think that's the same as missing youth. I had a great time and enjoy the memories but have no desire to try to relive it right now. The moment has passed," she says.

Katy thinks that although balancing a party lifestyle with parenting isn't for her, she tries not to judge others. "I think parents have the right to make their own choices. I have a number of friends who've continued to take drugs occasionally and I don't think their parenting has been jeopardised as a result," she says.

When people talk about being in a mind altering state, what makes drugs so much worse than getting drunk? Is being in a K-hole that much worse than passing out pissed? Bryony says there's not much difference. "I wouldn't do that either, never to the point that I used to get completely off my face. If anything happened and I couldn't answer my phone or I'd lost my phone, it would be awful," she says.

Katy agrees, adding that people need to be more careful if they choose to take drugs after they've had children. "Having kids means you're automatically responsible for more than just yourself and any choice that has potentially harmful consequences for you or your child should be carefully considered," she says.

The responsibility for children is there every day of a parent's life and they have to be able to respond to anything, even if they're not with their children at the time. For most it's an absolute no brainer. "Doing drugs is an abdication of your responsibility," said Mark, a father of three from Oxford. "I just don't think it's okay. I think it's wrong because other people have to pick up the pieces."

It might just be the odd line at the odd party, but what if something does goes wrong? For a few extra hours of fun, or the chance to feel like your old self again, most say that's not a risk worth taking.