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Help Your Kids Say No to Drugs

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Most people think that so-called designer drugs (ketamine, ecstasy, GHB) were only popular during the rave craze of the late nineties, and that kids are no longer interested in the dangerous fad. Well, think again. Just this summer, a 16-year-old girl died of an apparent ecstasy overdose at the annual Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles

We sat down with Beth Pearce, an amazing mom of three who took it upon herself to educate parents and teens about these drugs by directing, producing and editing a documentary called "Voice of the Victims." (She fronted all production expenses herself!) The film is filled with honest and open commentary from parents who suffered the loss of a child through a drug overdose. Pearce listened. They talked.áWe dare you to watch the documentary and not hold your kid a little closer tonight!á

momlogic: What inspired you to make "Voice of the Victims"?

Beth Pearce: I'll never forget the day my husband clipped and left a newspaper article [for me] about a beautiful girl named Erin Rose, who [had become] severely brain-damaged after taking ketamine. She had to relearn how to walk, talk and even breathe. Not only had I never even heard of ketamine, I had no idea kids were taking it for fun -- or of the drastic side effects it came with. I just knew someone had to do something about this, and thought: Why couldn't that someone be me?

So many parents haven't even heard of these drugs, and so many kids think they're perfectly safe. I felt that someone had to warn these kids and tell these parents what was going on. But I didn't want to make another one of those lame movies that they show in school, and I certainly didn't want to be like the D.A.R.E. officer in one of my girl's high schools, who actually stood in front of the class and told the kids how to huff and snort and get high on nitrous from whipped cream. He was just daring them to do it!

I found stories of three other families like Erin's, whose lives were changed forever by ecstasy or ketamine, and I just went out and listened. I listened to their tragic stories, because I knew their stories would help save a lot of lives. And it turned out to be true, because not a single person who has bought my videos has lost a child to these drugs. My motivation for making these movies was -- and always will be -- to save lives, to make sure kids not only are watching out for themselves, but are also watching out for their friends, and to enable parents to talk to their children about these drugs and to be aware that they even exist.

ml: What are some key facts about designer drugs that parents need to know?

BP:áNumber one, they're sneaky. It's hard for the parents to tell if their child is taking a designer drug, because there's a strong chance the effects will be totally worn off by the time they get home, and there's nothing to smell on their breath. We know what being drunk looks like, or what being high on pot looks like, but we don't know what it looks like to be high on ecstasy or ketamine.

Number two, kids think they're safe. There are so many websites out there telling the kids that these drugs are harmless, and so many kids who have read that junk and tell their friends not to worry. Kids need to know the truth: These drugs can kill them or completely change their lives. For example, many ecstasy users completely lose the ability to experience happiness, because they've exhausted their body's serotonin supplies. How many of these kids know that?

Number three, they're dangerous and unpredictable. Anything can be put in these pills, and that adds a whole new level of danger. Anything can be called "ecstasy". They're synthetically made in kitchens and overseas labs by unscrupulous people who are only after money.

Number four, the peer pressure to take drugs like this is very, very strong. Kids need education and ammunition if they're going to be able to say no; they need to be emotionally tied to "no," and that happens when they hear stories of kids just like them who died and left behind grieving families and friends. I heard from one girl who said that she watches my film every weekend to keep herself strong, so she'll be able to say no.

Number five, even kids who don't take drugs are at risk. People slip these drugs into drinks, even into water -- and not even boys are safe nowadays. Kids need to know how to protect themselves and to know the signs so they can watch out for each other. And parents need to understand that this can happen to their kid. No one has the luxury to be naïve anymore. My daughter called 911 at a concert when a girl she didn't know passed out near her, because she knows from the film that when someone's in trouble, you get help. If she was just an oblivious girl, she could have said, "Oh, she's just passed out," and that girl could have laid there and died.

Number six, parents cannot follow their kids around everywhere they go and protect them in everything they do, so they have to educate them and give them the knowledge and the ammunition to make the right choices. You can wait and call 911 when there's an emergency, or you can show these films and save your child or someone they know before an emergency happens. Lots of parents think that their kids would never take these drugs.

ml: What are some signs to look for if you suspect your child is taking ecstasy?

BP: This is the terrifying part about ecstasy: It can be so hard to tell if your kids are taking it. If they come home from a party and there's still some effect from it, maybe they'll be amped up, all happy and talkative -- but kids are often energetic and talkative. Their pupils may be bigger, dilated, and will stay dilated even with a change in lighting, but not if the effect has already worn off.

I don't like this question, because I don't want to be responsible for parents thinking, "Well, their pupils aren't big and they're not all 'up,' so we're safe." It's a very sneaky drug, and it's extremely hard to tell if they're taking it or not. Sara [one of the girls profiled in the films] apparently had already taken a pill or two; she had come home and was talking to her mom and brushing her hair, and then went back out again -- only to die the next morning, which was Mother's Day. Her mom had no idea she had taken ecstasy. She had no idea! I really want to make clear that your kids can be taking ecstasy, but you won't see any sign of it. That's very possible.

The best thing to do is to not be reactive, looking for signs, but to be proactive and make sure your child understands that these drugs are not safe, that they have killed a lot of people just like them and have caused a lot of tragedies. That's exactly what my films are designed to do: to get that message across powerfully and emotionally, so it really touches them and they remember it.

ml: What can we do to keep our children safe from designer drugs?

BP: Remember that you are still a positive role model in your child's life and that you can influence their decisions. Also, remember to back up your words with examples. It's one thing to say "Don't do drugs"; it's another thing to show your child what happened to someone just like them when they took drugs. One of my daughter's friends told her, "Your mom's video saved my life. People have no idea what they're in for when it comes to E. It makes you feel so good you don't realize you've taken too much ... until it's too late." He says his friends call him "Grandpa" because he's always watching over everybody and making sure they're OK. He's doing what he learned in my movie.

I don't worry when my three girls go out that they're going to be taking ecstasy or ketamine, or be slipped something, because they've seen my films several times and they know, so I don't have that icky worry. The best thing we can give our kids is the knowledge and the ammunition to say no, and [teach them] why they are saying it. Like Erin Rose said, "You can just tell them you know someone who took it and ended up brain-damaged or dead." And that can be your excuse. Peer pressure is very strong, and these films give the kids the words to use so they don't give in to pressure.

ml: You traveled a lot to get footage for this video. What was the common thread for these parents who all lost their children?

BP: The common thread with all of these parents was that even though they were heartbroken and were in such deep pain from the death of their child, they were so strong in wanting to speak up on camera to save your kids. They so willingly and graciously agreed to relive the worst day of their life because they knew their stories could help prevent others from experiencing what they did.

Want to know more? You can see a preview of the documentary at

next: Protect Your Child from Sex Abuse, Part 2
76 comments so far | Post a comment now
Klem September 14, 2010, 7:38 AM

An this come from moms who I am sure feed their kids with pills all day throught, whether it is vitamin or whatever pharma-industry-created-to-scare-you-disorded….


Think about it…Your kid has been used to taking pills since day one, for his tummy, for his nose for his cough….What do to expect if someone show up with a party pill?….

And by the way, one girl dying of X overdose is nothing compared to the amount of people dying from Ritalin side effects every year.

This is utter bullshit…If you don’t want your kids to do illegal drugs, don’t raise them with legal ones in the first place

Guest September 14, 2010, 12:19 PM

Kelm, given a choice on who I’d rather listen to:

1. You, spouting about your anti-medication views, with your bad grammer and cussing, or
2. Beth Pearce, who sounds like an awesome mom, caring person, she’s done a lot of research, she sounds poised and she has class.

Hands down, I’m taking Beth’s advice. You have a right to not agree with taking ritalin, that is your choice. However, not all medication is bad. Beth’s documentary is simply for educating our kids. Once properly educated, our kids will know when to say “no” and they will know when something is safe.

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Klem September 15, 2010, 5:23 AM

Sorry for the bad grammar, I’m french :p (btw you misspled “Klem”)

Not all medication is bad that is true…Not all drugs will kill you at first sight either

Emma September 15, 2010, 8:39 AM

Our children need to learn discernment. A medication given by mom or prescribed by the doctor(to them) is not the some as a drug given to them at a party.
Beth, this was great. Thank you for your hard work. I plan to have my son Zach watch your video. :)

Berenice October 12, 2010, 8:44 AM

But even the slightest drug can be a path to something else, I’ve seen how stuff as common as Kamagra Gel could lead to tougher counter drug abuse. As parents we have to keep our eyes on this and have good conversations about this.

VoiceOfReason October 13, 2010, 11:49 PM

I never thought id say this but the frenchman is rite. In reality pharmaceutical drugs are no better then illegal ones. Morphine is simply an opiate that is seen as acceptable. Rittalin, aderall, and concerta are all amphetamines. Even methanphetamine was perscribed until 1983. Even ectasy was once used in couples counseling and accomplished in a single session what took years without it, although i could understand why the psychologists and counselors would be against its legalization.
Dont get me wrong, the stories about people dying from hard drugs are tragic. But in reality they happen because people do not know how to handle themselves on ectasy. If someone had told that girl to drink plenty of water and to not dance for too long because her body would overheat and that would cause her brain damage (this can be remedied by simply sitting down) there is a very good chance she would be fine. To top that off, I would be very willing to bet this was not the first time that girl had taken ectasy (because every time you get caught is the first time)
People in general have always, and will always do drugs, the only thing prohibtion accomplishes is sending the market underground where it is unregulated, extremely lucrative, and highly dangerous. You want to save kids? then i suggest you start with the millions of people throughout the United States that are living in neighborhoods that by most reasonable standards (and even some very low ones) should be considered third world as a result of the violence and mayhem caused by the sale of illicit, unregulated. You spout protection and say you are trying to keep harm from befalling other people’s kids, but you ignore an environment that has swallowed the lives of MILLIONS of youth, even if they happen to be lower class….. The only thing that increased policing will do to this situation is further suppress this nightmare that we try to call a war on drugs.
In the end there two words that can solve everything… Knowledge, and Moderation. If you search for data throughout the “Monitoring the future study” and look at the correlations between the number of children who have used hard drugs once, monthly, and even daily, you will see that there is actually a very low addiction rate for these drugs. Because if they were as addictive as most pretend they are, once you try them you would never be able to stop. But go look then tell me what the numbers say.

VoiceOfReason October 14, 2010, 12:16 AM

Also, not just any drug is ectasy, just like not every drug is called beer or wine. If we had legalization, we could be sure of what we are taking, could make sure we are taking it safely, could consult a doctor before taking the drug to find out if there is something about us as an individual that makes us more at risk of some unwarnted reaction. And finally you could actually have someone to regulate the use (like a barkeep)

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