The health implications of taking drugs are serious, both in the short and long term. But it’s not just your health they can ruin, relationships, college or job prospects can all be put on the line.
In today’s 24-hour media age, our lives are played out on the web. And if you’ve embarrassed yourself on a night out or done something you shouldn’t at the weekend, it can easily come back to haunt you, with serious repercussions.
One Direction found out the hard way just how easy it is for people to film you taking part in activity you’d perhaps preferred to have been private. And with so many phones having video cameras on them, it’s very easy for your legal or illicit behaviour to be captured on screen and uploaded to YouTube or Facebook or any other site in minutes with or without your knowledge.
Jessica Knowlton Bell, social media expert at web agency Peach Digital in Glasgow, says once a picture or video footage of you is online, its very difficult to get rid of it and even if you do, it can come back to bite you years down the line.
She said: “Facebook’s move to the Timeline format showed just how easy it is for your past to reappear. Footage and pictures posted more than seven years ago when Facebook first started is showing on pages and it’s very difficult to get rid of it for good.
“Even as a social media expert I got caught out. Pictures of me enjoying nights out drinking at college almost seven years ago came up on my new timeline, even though I had untagged myself and deleted them from my wall years ago. The reality is that once something is online, it’s there forever. Even if you delete content, Facebook still stores it on their database so if they decide to once again change their layout, your past behaviour could be there for all to see.”
Youtube, Vimeo and other video sharing sites contain footage apparently showing young people taking drugs or being under the influence of illegal substances.
It may seem like a good or funny idea at the time but it can lead to a knock at the door from the police – in 2008 Strathclyde Police was just one force that set up a taskforce to trawl the internet in a move to uncover criminal activity online, identify and crackdown on those involved.
If you think that’s farfetched or they’ll never catch you, what about your employer spotting the pictures or being shown them by someone you don’t get on with or your friends and family hearing or seeing what you’ve been up to?
Jessica said: “We are all connected today and social media platforms are integrated too so something on Youtube can be easily posted on Facebook or shared on Twitter.
“Even if your settings are private, the only way to have true privacy online is not to share and post in these platforms but one of your so called ‘friends’ could still take and share the content and it’s viral before you know it.
“Many police forces now have dedicated programmes that trawl the internet for illegal activity, including drug taking or dealing. The media can also view the content and you could find your actions part of a story in your local media.
“You may think police can’t act as they’ve not caught you at the time but they can and do.
“Employers also regularly check social media or Google potential employees, even for the most bog standard of jobs. You may have moved on from that life, or it could have been a one off and yet it will still have repercussions for you. Once it’s on the internet, there’s no going back.”
Aside from the impact of drug use on relationships, education or job prospects, it can have potentially devastating effects on your health. You have no idea what you’re taking, what the effects may be or how your body might react. Know the Score, check out our drugs A to Z to find out the facts.
Remember being caught in possession of drugs can land you with up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine or both, depending on the class of drug. If you’re caught selling drugs, even just to give to your friends you could be charged with possession with intent to supply or supplying drugs which could mean up to life imprisonment.
Even if you are not caught by the authorities, the damage to your family, relationships, job or career prospects can affect you now and for a long time to come.