In 1995 our 15-year-old daughter, Anna, ingested an ecstasy tablet at a dance party in Sydney.
The result was she stopped breathing in my arms. She was put on life support and taken to hospital where she passed away.
The Coroner’s Report into her death states that the pill Anna had taken was pure MDMA.
It was not contaminated. It did not contain any other substance. It was pure. Does that make it a good one? If they had tested her pill, what would they have been testing for?
I want you to know something, and it breaks my heart: testing Anna’s tablet would not have made it any safer. She would still be dead.
Drugs are idiosyncratic so you never know how they are going to affect a person at any given time. Our Anna died, whereas the friends she went out with, who also took the same pills, survived.
See related article: Pill Testing: Arguments For and Against.
Testing pills will not give us the critical information about how your body and your brain will be affected by the chemicals. The effect will be different because we are all unique.
We can compare it to chemotherapy – some people respond well to chemo and go on to live for years. For others, including my beautiful wife, Angela, this wasn’t the case and for them chemotherapy doesn’t work. This is how drugs are idiosyncratic – what works for one person may not work for another. We are all unique. Sadly there is not a test that can tell you if you will be alive after taking it.
Within a week of Anna’s death, we were approached by the Australia Medical Association to start a new education campaign called “Love This Life” and our first meeting was within a day of her funeral.
We were invited to sit around a boardroom table at the AMA with a panel of drug experts and professionals, many of whom you will have seen on the news and on the television.
These ‘professionals’ spent an hour persuading us to use our tragedy to teach kids how to take drugs safely. We left that meeting shocked and horrified.
How could Anna have taken her drug safely? How many other grieving parents who have lost their babies to drugs have experienced this pressure from the harm minimisation campaigners?
It was on that day we learned that drug education is a political issue and that there is a well-funded and highly organised movement in our country called ‘Harm Minimisation’.
There is no doubt that this ridiculous concept is killing our children.
I would do anything to save the precious lives of young people and if I thought pill testing at festivals would prevent deaths, I would support it. But they have been testing pills in Europe for a long time.
In 2004 Angela and I were invited to take Anna’s Story to France and travelled all over that country doing school talks and speaking to the media.
See related article: Church urges nations, society to address ongoing issues related to drugs.
The subject of pill testing came up time and again, and the message came through loud and clear, it does not work. Kids were still dying at dance parties.
We knew we would be doing Anna’s memory a disservice by supporting harm minimisation.
Today we are getting distracted by the concept of pill testing when the funds would be much better spent on zero tolerance education. We know this works.
I don’t want my grandkids or any kids to take drugs safely. I don’t want them to take drugs at all.