Case Sept 14th 2004 Introduction

The below reproduced texts have been public at the website of Wild Learning since May 2002. 

You can read more about Wild Learning in the syllabus text: Nissen, M. (2003a). How can young drug misusers become persons? Presentation to the First International Symposium: Health, Humanity, and Culture - Comparative Social Practices, Malibu, Cal., October 2003.

Wild Learning is an organization for social work with the most disadvantaged young in Copenhagen. The organization is small, but it is at the center of a rather large and important network of social workers. Many of the social workers are unskilled ("former wild young") and there is a distinct element of self-help in the network as a whole.

The website characteristically merges social workers', politicians', officials', researchers', and young "users'" debates. Characteristically, since the creation of cultural forms and platforms for such networks has been a tradition in the community since the large festival and theater activities with which they sometimes captured the headlines in the late 80's and early 90's (happenings such as "Next Stop Soviet", "Overlever Twist" etc.). Social work, social policy, and staff training, all in one stroke. 

The overall issue of drug use can be briefly said to move between two discoursive positions in social policy. One is the "drug-free society" (Swedish: drogfria samhället) / "war-on-drugs" approach that  (in Denmark) links with contemporary nationalist currents to suggest a "no-nonsense" policy dominated by policing and incarceration. The second is the "harm reduction" approach often associated with Dutch policies and epitomized in Denmark by methadone maintainance of heroin addicts; here, the emphasis is on "meeting the person where he is" and helping him minimize harms and risks. 

In terms of organizing social work, another two positions can be distinguished. One is the idea of a "targeted intervention", the development of specialized expertise and institutions. The other is the idea that drug problems should be approached as social problems, that is, as parts of the mess of psychological issues, family conflicts, cultural minority issues, unemployment, school drop-out etc. that usually characterize the young people who take drugs, and that correspondingly, the agents should not be specialists, but all-round social workers.

The Wild Learning people have been developing "project groups" / activity groups for young "wild girls" for some time - and have been considering taking initiatives on the issue of hash - and even though the texts are anonymous, it is not hard to guess that they are the products and tools of one of the project activities of such a group.

If you read Danish, you can see a more comprehensive collection of links, including comments by researchers and social workers, here. But it might be a good idea to make your own impression first!

What's going on here?



About hash – no 1

Experience and opinions concerning hash

Girl of 17 years

I tried to smoke hash first when I was about 13 years.

At that time I didn't smoke that often. If my friends and I were going to smoke, we'd planned it days before, and we'd be totally happy.

Through the years I've tried to smoke in periods a couple of times when I smoked every day in a month or two.

Now I am 17 and since summer holidays I've smoked every day.

It has changed a lot from I was 13 and till now.

The effect is both different, and today it's a given thing that I'll smoke a joint. I know it's a wrong attitude, but that's just the way it is.

I wouldn't say you become addicted (afhængig) to hash, e.g. if I haven't smoked one day it's not like I get withdrawal symptoms, but it does feel like something is missing.

I'd sooner say you get dependent (afhængig) on hash because it is so nice (hyggeligt) and easily becomes a habit.

I really think it's nice to smoke, in particular with my friends.

If you ask someone why people smoke, and that person says it is to forget your problems, then think it sounds really wrong, since you do not forget your problems, in fact they only get worse, because they don't do anything about them.

It may be true that you get to feel better if you smoke a joint after having had an argument with your parents.

A lot of people think that if you smoke every day you're a hash-o-maniac (hashoman) and can't take one day without hash, I think that's wrong

I have a family that I get along with, and I get up early and go to school, like everybody else, actually, so I have a completely normal life, only I smoke.

There are a lot of young people who smoke hash, but there are more who don't smoke, I think you easily fall into a community (miljø) where a lot of hash is smoked, for instance most of my friends smoke daily.

Many people start with smoking hash and then begin to take hard drugs and end up as addicts (narkomaner).

I have a strong objection to hard drugs, and I know I'll never try any of that, because the day hash gets boring, I'll quit.

Girl 17 years.


(Original Danish version at Wild Learning's website)




About hash – no 2

Experience and opinions concerning hash

Girl of 16 years

If I were to just write about HASH, I could write from now till Kingdom come, but I can start by telling that I smoke about every day myself. I wouldn't really say I consider myself a "hash-o-maniac", even if I guess I am, somehow.

I first tried to smoke when I was 11 years old. Then I stayed away from it till i was about 13-14 years. Then I smoked once in a while with my friends, but not very often.

I tried the first time to show that I knew how to smoke the WEEDS (FED), but I didn't get any effect at all, not until the third or fourth time.

After that it was to get stoned and have the LAFF (få GRINER på) and stuff. And the hell we did!

About 10 months ago I started to smoke frequently. In fact, no more than max a day between. It isn't like that anymore.... Now I take a break every time a break presents itself, to be frank.

It's not like I get sick or have withdrawal if I don't smoke one day. If for instance I go to work from morning till the afternoon, and then get picked up to go to a party or something, then i don't think about the reefer, but if I have nothing to do, I definitely feel like having the WEEDS if someone offers one. Otherwise I find something else to do.

I'd no doubt be OK without getting stoned, yet I don't just smoke to get stoned. There's something particularly nice (hyggeligt) about sitting with your friends and blowing (suge) a JOINT.

Of course I wouldn't urge anyone to start smoking the WEEDS, but I guess it's double standards for me to give a heap of crap about HASH, for you could definitely call me a fan of it, since I must admit it's really nice to make a REEFER (GALAR).

I know a lot of people think that young people smoke HASH to forget their problems, but I know that the problems can't just be forgotten and then go away.

Whe  I'm down, I don't smoke to forget my problems, I just push them aside a bit. They're still there, of course, when I'm no longer stoned.

Like when I've had an argument with my parents, it's always nice (rart) to sit with a girlfriend and cry or talk it through over a JOINT.

You don't forget the argument, but you get away from it for a while. You can sit and groove (stene) about it if you like. You can get over it if you like. You get calm.

Now, HASH hasn't only been a "rescue" and a "friend" to me, of course. I once read about  HASH that it makes you lose initiative and concentration with regular use of HASH. I have to admit I agree with that.

I've been so lucky to be allowed to take one year off from school, since I had a totally rotten start to the new term. I know deep inside that of course it also had to do with my newly regular HASHconsumption, but that's quite hard to admit.

I also know that it's going to be hard for me to start school again, but since I've always enjoyed learning and going to school, I'm ready to pull myself together at any cost. That will be tough, but I have to pull myself together at some point anyway.

My girlfriends and I have been smokig together for some time now, and we've like gottento know each other in a different way from what other girls do. It's like we somehow think a little more identically.

When we meet, we all agree that the REEFER is to be put on the table. That's quite normal. The we blow, talk and laugh, and we eitherr go home or there is something else to do. It's totally nice.

If I haven't smoked for some time and really feel like a WEED, it's the coolest thing to blow along with the whole bunch. I don't think it's the WEED that keeps us together, and yet it does.

It's extremely hard to explain....there are people we know that we actually only see when there's a REEFER involved. It's not that we don't like those persons, but that's just the way it is.

I've read that people who blow feel better with other people who blow. But that's no wonder. People who do fist fighting fell better with other fist fighters, dancers with dancers etc., but I also do feel just fine with people who've never smoked a cig.

I don't care, but if the person starts to come down on you because you smoke, it's obvious that I don't want to be with that person.

My friends, like, understand my crazy mood changes too, my parents don't, but then they don't know I smoke. I guess it sounds like we lead quite a double life, but we do, actually, in a way. That's tough sometimes, but life is, anyway, isn't it?

To be honest I think you should wait with smoking (if you really feel you want to) till after you've finished school etc. On the other hand, it's no great fun to smoke when you're an adult and have kids etc., but I won't pretend I know about such things.

I get scared when  I think about what HASH can do to you if you're unlucky. One of my old friends got into a psychosis about a year ago, and he'll never be normal, and that's pretty scary. But I went on smoking even after I saw what happened to him..

Once in a while I get a totally BAD CONSCIENCE, but then I think of something else. I guess there aren't many who will believe this, but I know that if I pull myself together and take a cold turkey I'd be able to forget about HASH in no time.

I think that for some young people it's a phase they go through. Some go all the way through it, others get stuck. Among other things, it depends on your will-power and the support you get.

We are GIRLFRIENDS for whom WILL-POWER and SUPPORT can always be counted on, so I'm almost sure we'll get through it unharmed.... As unharmed as you do get through things like this.

Girl 16 years.

(Original Danish version at Wild Learning's website)




About hash – no 3

Experience and opinions concerning hash

Girl of 16 years

The first time I tried to smoke hash myself, I was 12.

The first couple of times I smoked, I was with friends who were used to smoking.

At first, I actually didn't like being stoned, so I don't know why I went on. Today, I wish I'd never started, because now I like it, and I smoke every day.

I began smoking daily when I'd just turned 16. It started in the summer holiday, when we would hang out with a group of boys who smoked daily. Not that I blame them; only it became ordinary to smoke daily when one was with them.

I don't go out with those boys anymore, but I still smoke daily. In some ways I'd like to stop smoking, in other ways I wouldn't.

I'd like to stop because I feel it makes me stupid and forgetful. The reason why I won't stop is that I like to smoke and be stoned.

Girl 16 years.


(Original Danish version at Wild Learning's website)




About hash – no 4

Experience and opinions concerning hash

Girl of 16 years

I tried it first when I was 11. It was together with two of my girlfriend and two boys. The others had tried it once or twice before.

At the time I got awfully sick - went home and puked more than once. I told myself I'd never try that again.

But the others wouldn't quit because they felt it was fun. They smoked, so when I was with them, and I saw how much fun they started to have, I couldn't resist trying again. And so I did.

I started to have more and more fun when I smoked, I laughed really a lot and ate heaps of candy.

At the very start, it was like: "Wow - let's smoke - we were all quite keen about it, because it was new and funny. At first we only smoked in weekends, but eventually it was more and more frequent. And when I was 13, it was about every day.

I had a break of half a year when I turned 14. I didn't smoke at all in that time.

The reason I took the break was that I had a girlfriend whom I smoked with every day, but then she was sent back to her own home country. I got really sad, so I didn't feel like smoking anymore.

Then I met a really good girlfriend, she smoked hash too, and I started to smoke together with her. We had a real good time together, so we started to smoke lots. And now I smoke every single day - up to several times.

I NEVER smoke alone, it would never even occur to me. I only like to smoke if I'm with people. I'd feel stupid if I sat by myself and smoked a joint.

I also never smoke when I'm with friend who don't smoke. And I'm not addicted like I'd be desperate for a joint. I just like smoking with friends and girlfriends.

I know you can get damaged, but when you smoke you don't think about the harm it does to you.

Your brain is much slower than if you haven't smoked. You're much more quiet about the things you do, you don't race around like mad, you're more relaxed in your body. You can get too relaxed as well, you can get all lazy and have trouble pulling yourself together to do things that have to be taken care of. Such as school, sports, work etc.

You risk a hash-psychosis as well, but then you'd be very unlucky.

The thing is, you don't know yourself if you can take it or not. That's something you only find out when the damage is done.

I'll try to cut it down gradually when I get older. Of course, I won't smoke when I'm pregnant or in front of my kids, when that time comes.

I don't know if I'll have trouble quitting, but I hope not. 

Girl 16 år.

(Original Danish version at Wild Learning's website)




About hash – no 5

Experience and opinions concerning hash

Girl of 16 years

I shall begin with my own experience with hash: I smoke hash daily and I've done that for about a year. 

The first time I tried to smoke hash, I'd just turned 13.

I thought that was real fun, and it was something special to smoke a joint, but now it's more like something that just appears in the course of the day, as well because most of my friends and girlfriends smoke hash. 

I don't know how to explain what's funny about hash, it's just nicer (mere hyggeligt) to sit with some friends and watch a movie and eat some candy and stuff if you're stoned. 

Since I smoked the first time I've smoked on and off and taken it nice and easy.

I wouldn't say I'm addicted to hash, but this smoking period has gone too long now.

I feel too that I'm getting more dull and clumsy and that I forget more.

I like to smoke hash, and I feel good when I'm stoned, but I'd like to keep it at a low level, because it affects school, too.

I have a friend who used to smoke hash every day too, and then one day when I met him he didn't know who I was at all.

After a while I heard he had a hash psychosis. When I saw him after a while he was all pale and talked about all kinds of strange things.

It was like he'd turned into a whole different person, and it really hurt to see something like that happen to a friend.

You always think it only happens to other people, but it could just as well have happened to myself.

Another problem with hash is if you get tired of it and you've smoked so long it doesn't affect you anymore, and you then start to take harder drugs.

I don't think hash is as bad as the media claim. There are lots of people who have good jobs, big houses, cool cars and a lovely partner and look quite normal, even while they have a daily use of hash.

And if it's legal to drink yourself stewed every day it can't be that dangerous to smoke hash, if you keep it to the weekends or something, and quit if you get a feeling for harder drugs and more powerful effects.


Girl 16 years.


(Original Danish version at Wild Learning's website)