This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.
Every drug scene has a stereotype. Pills are taken by party girls, meth is for homeless burnouts. Weed is for armchair philosophers, while coke is for creative agency psychopaths. Basically every community comes with a list of identifying features, which often includes how its members feel about outsiders. And members of a particular drug scene love to judge the members of other scenes.
To find out more about how and why drugs are split along demographic lines, we hung out with users and asked what they'd never touch.
Demographic profile: Meth users are predominantly male with an average age of 28 years. They often come from the lower socio-economic backgrounds.
I'd never take anything real trippy like mushies and acid. That shit makes you go skitz. I've had a biccy before that was laced with acid and I freaked out, it really sucked. I don't know why people want to take it that far and trip out so they're seeing all sorts of shit. I've heard you can get caught up in an acid trip and never return or it can just switch back on when you're older. Before you know it you'll be in a fucking psych ward talking to pigeons and dragons that aren't even there. Fuck that.
I used to chew pills (MDMA) until they started chopping them with heaps of rubbish, then I moved onto speed and ice because they're the cleanest and most potent. Everyone in our suburbs were puffin' a few years ago so it just happened naturally. No one had work in my circles, so we blew our fortnightly job seeker payments on half a gram and a spin at the pokies.
I guess it just made us feel real good, it was a bit of a distraction. I guess we're fuck ups in the real world, to our families and stuff so it was an easy getaway. To be honest, we tried getting jobs. My cousins have got me work a few times but I'm in too deep, you start with a burn on weekends and it becomes a Thursday night start and before you know it you're going around the clock.
Demographic profile: average age when first tried is 18 years, typically users are from educated middle class backgrounds.
I'd probably never take heroin or any drugs you'd inject, the whole process of looking for your veins and organising syringes is way too hardcore. Not a fan of uppers like speed or coke either, they just seem to provoke anxiety for me.
Acid is great. It opens everything up, like gives you a totally new way of thinking about stuff. That's what turned me on about acid. Psychedelics are the only drugs that made me feel like you could reorganise the way you saw the world, from somewhere new. I smoked a bit of weed in high school and stuff, then a mate got me onto mushies and acid in uni. They're the only drugs I take. It might sound like natural hippy shit but they're the only drugs that have been extensively researched, and where the good to bad ratio isn't completely whack. My girlfriend suffers from depression and the mushrooms really helped her through all of her mental health issues. She'd take a point or even less, every night and it's helped her a great deal.
Demographic profile: evenly spread across genders, predominantly students with an average age of 22 years.
No one in our group would ever take anything like ice. We've seen what it's done to guys we went to school with and their families. It seems pretty horrifying. Also the whole glass pipe thing is fucking disgusting and they all get really intense and violent. I've had ice addicts from high school message me really weird and confronting sexual messages on like weekdays at 4 AM. Why would you want to get high and act like an abusive weirdo?
MDMA was actually the first drug I ever took, when I turned 18 a bunch of the older girls gave me and my best friend one each. We had the best time ever, just got totally into the music, super happy and just loved everything about it. It felt like all the good bits of being drunk without the slurring, wastedness, and I actually preferred the comedown over a nasty hangover. These days we usually get a gram of powdered MD between a couple of us and just drop small amounts in our drinks throughout the night.
Demographic profile: The average age of heroin users in Australia is 37 years. Heroin users are often unemployed and are generally from lower socio economic communities.
Panel Beater, Doveton
I'd never take trippers or coke. Trippers mess with people's heads too much. I reckon people are pretty fucked up as they are, they don't need to be making themselves any more delusional than they already are. And coke because it's too fucking expensive for what it is and does. It's like window-shopping, what's the point?
I don't know if doing heroin is anything anyone would be proud of, like I'm not sure if I prefer it over any other drug. But once you get a taste for it, you think you got it all under wraps but it's always going to have the last laugh. You might think you're in control but you're kidding yourself. It's only a matter of time before you're hooked and it's fucked your life. It trickles you away and it just gets worse and worse.
My mum was a heroin addict, which confuses a lot of people. They're always asking why? You know, if you had such a fucked up upbringing how do you end up making the same mistakes, and the truth is I don't know. It's sad that I made the same mistakes but I take full responsibility. I probably just knocked about the wrong crowds. We didn't have much hope; the most successful blokes I knew were drug dealers.
Demographic profile: Cannabis users in Australia are an average age of 22 years and generally from well-educated backgrounds.
Construction Foreman, Logan
All the people we knew who took pills or smoked ice were pretty lame. We'd just look at them at house parties and be like fuck looking like that when you go out. I guess it all depends on the type of person you are. You're either into uppers or downers. I'd never smoke ice. It's just the worst and it's had a pretty severe effect, specifically on the immigrant communities in Logan and across suburban Brisbane in general.
I guess it takes hold on guys that have had it rough, whether they come from poor backgrounds or if they've seen some shit because they're refugees or whatever. Now I feel like a bit of a dick for saying they look lame at house parties. But it's also that you stand to lose so much more, physically, mentally, and socially. There's are just zero benefits, whereas weed has a lot of qualities that can be beneficial.
Ever since I was in my mid teens I've only ever really drank and smoked weed. That's all our older brothers were into so just followed them really. We were all skaters from suburban Brisbane. Sometimes we'd dabble in party drugs and shit but it wasn't really our vibe. A close mate grew weed so it was always cheap or free.
Demographic profile: Average age when first initiated is 24 years with the majority of users in their late 20s and from high income households.
Model, South Melbourne
Obviously I'd never touch heroin and the crazy stuff like ice. I know girls that have got involved with guys that do it and it sounds pretty shit. I can't imagine not sleeping for days, and how quickly it becomes the central focus of their lives. I feel sorry for the girls I know whose boyfriends got them on it. Like they snorted a few lines and now they work as strippers to support both their own habit and their boyfriend's. It's so sad. I personally know two or three girls like that. They also become the worst liars. Seriously, they'll look you in the eye and make up really elaborate lies about something simple like arriving to a party late.
I've never really tried psychedelics or dissociative drugs. Again they just sound like a bit of an extreme way to have fun. The people that I knew who took them didn't seem very social when they went out and I guess that's what my ideas about drug culture are. I see drugs as a social—a going out sort of thing. I wouldn't say they're any worse or better, just not for me.
My friends and I will only ever take cocaine because it seems like the cleanest, which is why it costs so much. There's no real comedown and it's fun, keeps me dancing and talking my friends ears off. It seems like the perfect social drug, although I'm sure like everything else it can be abused. But all the people I know using it seem to be getting by. They have great jobs, they don't abuse it and they don't let it get the better of them. I've had nights where I might've pushed it a little far but the worst experiences aren't nearly as bad as other drugs.