How I learned about drugs

Hi! I'm Nishika, a university student working as an editor for The Mix. I've just finished going through The Mix's entire catalogue of drug content (which you should totally check out) and thought that it was only fitting I add my two-cents.

A young person is thinking about her perspective on drugs. She is against a pink background with pills and cannabis leaves in the background

The basics 

So, this isn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill university student experience with drugs. In fact, it’s practically the opposite. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Some key facts you should know about me to make this make sense: I’m 19 years old, currently headed into my second year at university. I was born on a small island called Aruba (population 106,000) and moved to the UK when I was eight. I’m Indian. All caught up? Let’s begin. 

Growing up, I don’t think I had even heard the word ‘drugs’ uttered in my household until I was about 15. It’s just not something that my parents thought they needed to discuss. Despite being brought up in the UK, my mum was raised in an extremely traditional household and spent most of her youth preparing for marriage. My dad, on the other hand, was raised by a single mother in Bombay. Since he was the only son in his family he had to provide for his mum and two sisters, so drugs were the least of his worries.

The only substance that my family would talk about was alcohol. My paternal grandfather suffered from severe alcoholism and passed away suddenly at the age of 46. But even then, the most I heard was a whispered conversation or a fleeting mention of my grandfather’s addiction. Suffice to say, my knowledge on drugs was limited at best. 

Factors affecting my views on drugs 

I think my view on drugs, until this summer, had been largely shaped by two things: my Indian upbringing and being born in Aruba. I should mention that my family is Hindu, with my dad in particular being extremely religious. But given that I had to google what Hindus believe about drugs, you can guess that my views had less to do with religion and way more to do with my cultural upbringing. 

Generally speaking, in the Indian community, the older generations believe that children are a reflection of their parents. So if you did drugs (and people found out) your mum and dad would bear the brunt of the judgement. Pair this with living on a tiny island where everyone knows everyone, and you run into a pretty substantial problem.

Even though I moved to the UK when I was eight, my life was still very much tied to Aruba. We spent our summers there growing up and my cousins lived there. As I got older, I started hearing stories about people my age in Aruba. They were going out every weekend, smoking hookah and whatever else they could get their hands on. It seemed cool when others were doing it, but I also saw how people in my community treated the young Indians, and by extension their parents, who got caught; despite having a multi-decade friendship, suddenly they were complete strangers.

These factors combined meant that drugs felt like something only the cool, (non-Indian) kids did, something that was completely outside of the little bubble I had created for myself. 

University ‘experience’

I had heard, from extremely reliable sources, that being a fresher meant partying the first month away and then maybe dialling it back to get some work done, only if necessary though. Either way, it was going to be a rave-filled year with many new experiences. Time to pop that bubble and enter the real world. At least that’s what I thought; until COVID-19 came along and put a damper on the entire world’s plans.

Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 didn’t stop a lot of freshers from making the most of their uni experience. So much so that Nottingham Trent University students got fined over £60,000 for breaking guidelines. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it) I tended to air on the side of caution since I had opted to live at home. What’s more I ended up doing half my year of uni from Aruba, which didn’t allow for much experimentation. 

Working for The Mix

Once summer hit, I got restless. Uni work was the only thing that had occupied my brain for the past eight months then, all of a sudden, I had no purpose. So, I went job hunting. I stumbled across an ad for The Mix on my university’s career service and the rest, as they say, is history. I mean who better to write about drugs than someone who’s never tried them before, right? 

For some reason, The Mix decided to take a chance on me (which I’m super grateful for by the way). Overnight, I found myself knee-deep in the world of drugs. It definitely brought up some interesting conversations at family dinners. But all jokes aside, editing over 100 articles on all types of drugs, real life experiences and addiction taught me a lot. Not to mention, having to get back into routine and hold myself accountable for getting shit done has done wonders for my work ethic. 


I know what you’re probably thinking – since she’s decided to tell us this whole story, there must be some profound ending to it all. Well, congrats! you’ve arrived at it. Something that I’ve learned recently is that nothing is black and white, ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Everything lives in some shade of grey, and drugs are no exception. Contrary to what my 10, or even 18-year-old, self believed drugs are not just restricted to ‘low lifes’ or even taboo. They’re just something that’s a part of life. For some it’s a personal choice, for others it’s a craving that they can’t control. 

Either way, it’s not for us to judge. Context is everything and often we’ll never know the full story of what someone is going through. Stories get told and rumours spread, but you will never know the real reason why someone is doing drugs. All we can do is be there for people when they need us.

To find advice and information on drugs, visit The Mix’s support page.

Next Steps

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addiction| drugs

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 05-Oct-2021

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