A 19-year-old Blenheim teenager Anesha Stratton, admits that she was spending a large amount of her benefit money to feed her addiction to legal highs.
At her worst, Miss Stratton smoked 3 grams a day of AK47, which cost her $20 per day and gave her up to 50 hits using a bong according to The Express.The story that the Marlborough Express covered here highlights important issues surrounding personal choice, addiction and the benefit.
According to the story, Miss Stratton used her benefit money, about $210 a week, to pay her board. The rest apparently went on AK47, a brand of synthetic cannabis that has since been taken off the market.
The first question that must be asked, is why is this young 19-year-old woman sitting around smoking “legal highs” while she is collecting benefit money from the government.
“Clearly this woman doesn’t have her priorities straight”, says one analyst – “she is sitting around all day smoking drugs when she should be out working or studying, this is a recipe for disaster whether it’s drugs, alcohol, video games or fast food”
“We have a habit of blaming others for our own misdoings, this woman had a habit that she created herself, it escalated to an addiction and she is blaming the product and not looking at herself, and what caused her to get to this point”
According to The Express, she lost motivation for anything other than getting money to fund her habit and her weight dropped from 55kg to 48kg. By October, she was behind in her rent and was kicked out of the boarding house. She didn’t tell anyone about her addiction because she was ashamed.
Her Mother said she wanted synthetic legal highs banned after seeing what they did to her daughter.
In January, her daughter saw a drug and alcohol addiction counselor in Blenheim and was referred to the detox unit in Christchurch.
One industry insider suggested that education is the biggest priority and that a young adult, especially someone as old as 19, is old enough to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car, they should know by now that too much of anything is never good, especially drugs, legal or not. “You can’t drink a 12 box of bourbon cans every day and expect to be free from any side-effects” they said.
The question is where do we draw the line? Should adults be free to make the decision to consume alcohol and legal highs, or should the government make that decision for them?