Over half of young people in Brussels and Flanders know how and where to buy hard drugs such as cocaine or ketamine within a day if they wanted to, a survey by the e-magazine of journalism students at the Brussels Erasmushogeschool Erasmix shows.
The survey, conducted in May 2022, showed that 52% of the questioned young people between 16 and 25 indicated that they could easily get cocaine or ketamine in less than a day, if they wanted. Additionally, 60% said they had at least one friend or family member who regularly uses cocaine or ketamine.
"There are Whatsapp groups in which dealers send how much coke you can buy and at what price," a 20-year-old told Erasmix. "In the meantime, they drive around by car and if you reply to their message, they will be at your front door with your order within the hour."
The days when people tried their first joint because someone happened to have weed with them at a party are behind us, partly because dealers are more inventive than ever, confirmed Sébastien Vaessen, prevention officer at the Centre for Mental Health (CGG).
"These guys keep an eye on how young people use social media and then cleverly capitalise on it," he told the magazine, adding that while a silver bullet to the issue does not exist, there is a lot to be said for proper prevention education in schools.
"Young people still feel like they have to look for the right information themselves. We need to train teachers better so they can pick up signals and start conversations when there is a drug problem," Vaessen said.
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For toxicologist and professor at the KU Leuven, Jan Tytgat, proper education on prevention could even be tackled at a younger age. "People should be able to talk to children as young as 12 about the dangers of drugs. It is never too early to start discussing the prevention of things you can die from," he said.
Those who want more information or have questions after reading this article can contact the Drugline anonymously via email, chat or phone: www.druglijn.be.