In the latest part of our look at Blackpool’s ‘Lost Generation’ of young people who are growing up in an era of shrinking life chances, we look at the issues of drugs, one inspirational young woman and fears over the talent which leaves the resort for a better life.
Talk to drug dealers in Blackpool and they are pretty bullish.
Trade, they say, is brisk with no shortage of takers for their lethal wares.
“My 91-year-old granddad could tell you where to get drugs from in this town,” one told me.
“Cannabis is available but my main sellers right now are coke, ketamine, pills (ecstasy) and bubble.
By far the biggest seller, the dealer told us, was cocaine. He told us that ‘coke’ in the resort sells for between £30 and £60 a gramme – depending on the quality and the gullibility of the punter.
And, he claimed, it is available “everywhere”.
He said: “Most people have their dealer on speed dial these days to keep things simple but to be honest you can walk into pretty much any pub or club and score.”
It is a situation many we have spoken to us through our investigation into life on the streets will relate to.
One Blackpool user, who is currently trying to get off class A drugs – including cocaine – said: “Like everything in life there is an upside and a downside.
“I’ve used drugs throughout my teens and am now in my mid-20s and desperately trying to get off.
“I’m in real financial trouble and I’ve seen friends lose everything, every penny they’ve ever earned, through coke addiction.”
Chelita Moyle, substance misuse nurse at The Hub, which helps young people with drug issues at a drop in centre on Dickson Road, said the main drugs in Blackpool were cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis,
And she warned that cocaine and similar drugs were now thinned-out so randomly with indiscriminate and potentially deadly cutting agents that they had to be re-categorised in professional circles as non-specific or unknown white powders.
She added the resort had previously had a major problem with the drug ‘bubble’ – a so-called legal high until recently when the Home Office caught up with the street trade and made it illegal.
Bubble was pretty cheap and of course legal, you could buy it online and you weren’t going to get in trouble. It was a new thing but there were problems, numbness, cardiac problems, and down the line there are mental health problems.
Chelita said: “We deal with kids as young as 11-years-old. A boy who was just starting to use cannabis and starting to have problems with his mental health.
“I do think it’s harder to get by as a young person today than it was in days gone by. In many ways opportunities are restricted in Blackpool, perhaps because of the seasonality of the town.
“There’s a palpable sense of low aspiration here. We’ve given the town a facelift but it’s really just papering over the cracks.”
Sgt Steve Hodgkins, Community Cohesion and Partnerships Sergeant, at Blackpool Police comes face to face with substance abuse issues every day.
He said: “The majority of kids in Blackpool make the correct decisions and don’t take drugs very much. I don’t think we give them the credit they deserve for this.
“In our view alcohol is the most prevalent drug of course, then cannabis,
“Potentially there can be a link to crime and many of our most persistent offenders do have substance issues.
“I’m sure for some young people it is a way to get through the day but it is important to see that drugs and alcohol is not a solution.
“There’s an element of an open drugs market in the town and it would be naive to hide from that but we are certainly no worse than anywhere else.”
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