IT was a horrible story — every parent’s nightmare. A number of years ago the daughter of an acquaintance died. She was only 18 and had just finished her Higher School Certificate. She was a lovely, normal girl. It was her first trip abroad. She landed in Europe. And went to a club. Of course no one ever knows the details of these things, but her parents were rung in the middle of the night to say their daughter had died on the dance floor.
The autopsy showed ecstasy in her system. She’d been offered party drugs from what’s known in the industry as ‘‘a bad batch’’. The story, and those like it, are more prevalent than anyone could imagine.
Which brings to light a controversial issue. I’ve been battling with friends over my views regarding teenagers and drugs.
I’ve told my daughter all I could about drugs, although there wasn’t much she didn’t know. But she didn’t know I would say this: That I will support her right to try anything she wants to in life — as long as it’s safe.
Let me explain. I don’t like the idea of her taking party drugs. But she most likely will try them at some stage. Almost all kids of her generation do, and it’s folly to think otherwise. What I don’t want is the dreaded call in the middle of the night. As a responsible parent, I’ve recited the old ‘‘shrivelled brain’’ routine; the stunting of synapses. I regularly go to neuroscience conferences, so I know how damaging even the lightest of party drugs or alcohol can be to the teenage brain.
But I know this won’t stop her when she’s in the company of friends and the music is blaring and everyone’s high.
So I told her something most parents never do. The truth. Party drugs can be fun. But that I don’t take chemically mixed or designer drugs for one reason. Backyard operations.
Four friends can take a pill and be fine, and the fifth dies. An adult acquaintance of mine recently ended up in emergency; the rest of his clan were fine. I explained that poisons can be added: addictive substances to get kids hooked. But, more often than not, batches are simply badly mixed, with lethal doses of a chemical potentially ending up in one tablet. Yours? It’s a game of Russian roulette.
She was furious with me. She yelled that I’d frightened her too much, and now she was going to be worried and paranoid every time she went partying. Then she stormed off. My honesty inspired a more potent reaction than the threat of a shrivelled brain ever would.
What’s your view on kids and drug safety?
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