Extra! Extra! : Is Everybody on Something?

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Hello everyone! Today I’m starting a new segment which I dub ‘Extra! Extra!’. This is where I illustrate articles I like on a speculative basis (as in I wasn’t commissioned) or on the odd occasion, my own editorial-esque articles. I will always credit/link if it is someone else’s article, but the illustrations will always be mine. So, I hope you guys like and feel free to let me know what you think!

Today’s article featured is ‘Is Everybody on Something?’, from December 2015 issue of Glamour Magazine in the UK. Note this is only an extract, link for an earlier, online version can be found at the end. 

We [Glamour Magazine] wanted to know where you stand on drugs, so we did an exclusive Glamour Survey. The results? One in three women take drugs recreationally – and are convinced they can do it safely. But is that really possible?

Back in April 2011 Rachel, a PA, woke up in an unfamiliar room. ‘Where the hell am I?’ she wondered. White walls, beeping monitor, IV needle in her wrist. ‘Hospital. But why?’ The 29 year old remembered taking ecstasy with her friend Stacey at the Coachella music festival, waiting an hour for it to kick in, then taking another. She remembered snorting MDMA (the psychoactive ingredient in ecstasy) and some cocaine. And she remembered getting to the hotel, making herself sick, and freaking out that she wasn’t coming down. Then, nothing.

Around 9 A.M., Rachel would later learn, her roommate woke to a terrifying sight: Rachel was foaming at the mouth and having a seizure. By the time Rachel opened her eyes in the hospital, three days had passed. “I’d been in a coma,” she says. “The doctor said I was lucky I didn’t die, which obviously was incredibly scary, but it was also confusing. Yes, I partied. But I didn’t feel like I’d gone on some crazy binge.”

But two doses of ecstasy, MDMA, and coke is a binge, experts say. “Mixing drugs increases your risk of things like panic, overheating and heart problems,” says Dr Adam Winstock, consultant psychiatrist and founder of Global Drugs Survey. “Data from the survey indicates that, last year, about 100 users of drugs such as MDMA had emergency medical treatment. You don’t have to be dependent on a drug to have problems. You can have pretty negative consequences if you use sporadically.”

While Rachel is more cautious now, she still smokes weed and has taken ecstasy, mushrooms and ketamine since then. “I’m tame compared to most people my age—I don’t even drink,” she says. “I’m more responsible; I take a very small amount.”

“Responsible” drug use? Is there such a thing? Many young women believe so: In an exclusive Glamour survey of 1,024 women, that idea came up time and again. 32% of women in our poll say they’ve used street drugs (like pot, ecstasy, and cocaine) or prescription drugs (like Adderall and OxyContin) recreationally. And a quarter of all women believe using drugs is OK, as long as you’re not hurting anyone or developing an addiction.

The picture that emerged is of user who approaches her habit in the same shame-free, matter-of-fact manner she might approach her diet or exercise routine. Women said they Google safety information, have rules about what they’ll consume, and “buy locally” from friends. “This is a huge cultural shift that no one is talking about,” says Dr Joseph Lee, from Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in the US, which runs addiction treatment centres nationwide. “There’s a big pool of women who are educated and have their lives together—and subscribe to the philosophy of better living through chemistry. We’re blind to this group who may not be addicts but who are at risk nonetheless.”

So what are the risks? Why are women ignoring them? We went in search of answers.

Link to the online version is here.

The illustrations that never made it: 

Thought it might be fun to show some of the initial ideas that didn’t make it. The first is a line of women waiting to get into a nightclub, one in three of them was going to be coloured differently, signifying the ‘one in three women take drugs recreationally’ statistic. However I felt the main message of the article wasn’t been shown in there. The second one was a large disco scene, with maybe the disco beams falling on the women, however, again I felt the main message of the article wasn’t being shown and focused to much on the partying aspect.

Pilol sketches


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