UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Pill testing at music festivals remains a hot topic.
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Pill testing at music festivals remains a hot topic. Contributed

'I knew that a date with that needle was a date with death'

I THINK most of us were extremely saddened to hear the tragic news that people died at the music festival in our midst over Easter.

The sudden death of anyone is tragic but somehow seems worse when it occurs in an environment that is supposed to be one of fun and good times.

Although at the time of writing, there has been no confirmation of it, the spectre of illicit drugs seems to have been put in the frame as a likely suspect.

As has been the case with similar events, the "outing" of illicit drugs being the culprit has brought forth the cry for pill testing to be carried out.

As a parent of seven young people, and now a grandfather, I could certainly mount an impassioned argument for the cause of "pill testing" if I had to.

But to tell you the truth, my heart just isn't in it.

I'll simply tell my kids the same message that I've given them over and over again.

Just don't take illicit drugs.

I don't want to see people go on dying from taking unknown dangerous illicit substances at music festivals, dance parties or anywhere else - but in cases like this, don't we have an obligation to measure the long-term moral cost against the human cost?

The only "safe" pill is one you never take.

Now people may call me a hypocrite because I use legal substances.

I take prescription drugs. One of them even has an impact on my mood, an anti-depressant.

The difference is that it has been rigorously tested, manufactured under strict quality control and is delivered in a controlled way under a prescription.

Oh, and the other legal drug? Alcohol? Yep, I do drink alcohol from time to time and at times in my life I have certainly over-indulged, engaged in binge drinking and generally abused alcohol.

I certainly did not grow up in a vacuum either.

I grew up in a time where illicit substances were readily available.

From time to time in my younger life I was exposed to the "drug culture" and to be honest, I didn't really like much of what I saw. Especially the people that peddled them.

As a young man I was also scared s---less of heavy drugs. Australia in the '70s and '80s was in a heroin "epidemic". Kids I knew and went to school with died.

Kids I knew ran away from home and sold their bodies, hearts and souls for it.

I knew that a date with that needle was a date with death.

So, I took responsibility for my own actions and took responsibility for the consequences.

Thankfully, in my life, these were no more than a sore head, an empty wallet and the occasional split lip.

I certainly didn't expect someone else, let alone the government to hold my head up over the toilet and clean up afterwards.

I didn't expect them to walk me home safely and to put me to sleep in a safe place and a safe position so I made it through the night.

I didn't ask them to tuck me in and make sure I wasn't smoking in bed so I didn't set myself on fire in my sleep.

My actions might not have always been best.

But they were mine. I own them. I took full responsibility for myself.

I was the master of my own destiny.

Not a lamb of a nanny state.

We were all young once. I only hope we all manage to keep it together and make the right decisions to all end up being old.