Part five: Pause

Hayley‘s Lockdown Drug Use Diaries


Yours truly will be taking a quick break from investigating covid’s impact on the Dutch recreational drug use scene. And while I’m resting my legs in the chill out room, elsewhere, the party continues!


And where there is a party, there is Unity.

Just because covid has canceled parties and postponed festivals, does not make their outreach message of “think for yourself, care about others” is any less relevant; people will always need access to accurate, non-judgmental information about drugs, even in a pandemic. Luckily for us, the team of peers at Unity have complied their wealth of information on safer drug use during a pandemic here.


Beyond that, Unity peers have found creative ways to get their message of safer drug use across in three main ways. Check them out!


1) Via their website, you can read personally informed pieces on drug use and anxiety,

and where gay men and men who have sex with men can access resources and get support for safer sex. Or, you can get playful with this quiz or discover new music for a home dance party.


2) Or you can tune into their podcast series, where peer educators share with you their current interest related to all things substance use. Find yourself using drugs more at home than in the club? Revisit the ever-important trifecta of drug, set, and setting. Or learn about the Third Reich’s relationship of substance use (spoiler alert: Nazi’s like, like liked meth! But if that is a spoiler…replay any propaganda footage, honey. Where do you think they got all that maniacal energy from?


3) Via their Instagram account, you can watch and participate in live Q&A’s, maybe see a familiar face with “Meet the Peer”, or test your knowledge from their regular posts “Fact or Fiction?”


While the aim of this series is to share with you first-hand accounts of how the pandemic is impacting people’s drug use, there are plenty of other, let’s say, visually pleasing ways to understand what young people have been up to these past months.


Antenne is a yearly publication, supported by Hogeschool van Amsterdam and Jellinek, that has been monitoring mostly young peoples’ (ages 16 to 24) illicit and licit drug and gambling practices and trends for almost three decades.


Like many research organizations interested in the far-reaching impacts of the virus, they have zoomed in their focus on how corona has impacted young peoples’ risk behaviours by means of online surveys. They have released their results in phases, the first results from May and June can be found here. The second results from May, June, and July can be found here.


Releasing the results in phases not only pleasantly parallels the various phases of the pandemic, but allows us to see how the different phases of lockdown impacted young people’s licit and illicit drug use. For example, the second round of results reveals

the changes in use (such as type of drug used, motivation, or location) from spring to summer. Antenna’s results show that the arrival of warmer weather, conducive to outdoor (illegal) parties, in combination with the reopening of cafes, had an impact on the increase of substances use in public spaces. This is noteworthy, as the shift from lockdown to reopening phase, and the drug choices that went along with it, echoes your stories shared with me here and here.


Another interesting find is that more young people are naming stress as the main reason for their drug use in July than in May, perhaps signaling increase feelings of anxiety as the pandemic continues or uncertainty around the start of the school year.


Finally, if you want to share your experiences and enrich Antenne’s next results, you do can do so here.

If you have something to offer this discussion around recreational substance use and quarantine, which trust me, you do, please get in touch with me via Telegram @sharewithpoppi  or
Your anonymity will be guaranteed.

For those of you who already have shared with me: you are great, thank you.

Check back in with Poppi’s blog regularly as, with your help, I’ll continue to explore what this new reality means for recreational substance use(rs) in the Netherlands.

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