We move towards the hypnotized crowd. The bass, vibrating deep in my chest. The DJ transitions, seamlessly. Strobing lights flash wildly, illuminating the mass of bodies, pulsing and twisting. I dance with abandon. I can feel my friend's rapid heartbeat matching mine. I grip her hand as we plunge into the fray. The deafening music envelopes us. Blinding beams of green and purple slice through the artificial smoke. Heightening the surreal. I’M HIGH AS FUCK. My grin - involuntary. My skin - glistening with tingle. My senses - overwhelmed. The dizzying array of sights, the bone-rattling bass, the tactile feel of bodies casually pressing against mine. This euphoric moment is electric, primal, intoxicating. I surrender. And we melt -Into the music. Into the moment. Transported to a place beyond reason, beyond words. The outside world slips away. In this space, we are infinite.

But WAIT, this isn't my moment? This ecstatic release, this reckless joy - it's not mine. It’s my child's. My world, my purpose, now on the brink of adulthood. No more little hand clutching mine as I guide you through life. My first born, entering into the big bad world. Without me by their side. Karma’s inevitable, now dancing, alone.

AND suddenly, I’M FUCKING TERRIFIED. My artificial, hypothetical high - now replaced with gripping paranoia and fear. If control was once something I occasionally loved to let go of, I now desperately want it back. But can my hypocritical mind be shifted?

Can I be shown the light?

I check in with my HER SAY collective to gain some much needed perspective on talking to our kids about drugs.

Shot by Yushy Pachnanda

Alex, AMP Founder, shares her thoughts first:

"When Yushy's project on 'raving' fell into our inbox, we began reminiscing about our days of partying and dabbling as 'ravers'—this was quickly replaced with a conversation on the positives and negatives that arose from drug use, and how much of our journey we would share with our kids. Morgan and I were complete opposites on this topic. Always a good start for a debate!

For me, it was something I would edit as much as possible with my daughter, seeing very little value in the years of dancing into the early hours, sweaty clubs and raves, pupils dilated, all sharing openly our feelings of love for each other. And while I can objectively observe the upside of being more open than our parents' generation, who didn't grow up with the rise of acid house and these love fests, for me it represents a lot of wasted time, not being present. Altering your mind, chasing that feeling, and not working on the joy of what was in front of you in real life. As a teenager, this collective outlet of drugs, dancing, house music, and ecstasy was honey for me. It was my elixir and the answer, until it wasn't.

Now, as a single parent, and someone who has worked hard on being present, I think educating my daughter on the dangers of drugs leading you down false realities and harming your mind is important. I fundamentally feel it leads you away from 'good clean fun'—the true beauty to be had in those years through education, sports, and gatherings without mind-altering drugs. In my opinion, those moments are enough already."

Shot by Yushy Pachnanda

Morgan, AMP Co-Founder, at this point jumped in: "But Al that was how we met! We never would have started AMP or shared our amazing journey together if we hadn’t shared our love for music, partying and bridging the age gap. How can you be so negative—it's like you're not owning your journey?"

Morgan continues: "I partied my way through my twenties, and honestly wouldn’t take a moment back. I think music, Ibiza, the wild and free lifestyle was one that helped me to explore, form relationships and find out who I was. Many of my fondest memories are on the dance floor, and many of my best friends were made through 6am soul sharing—it was a thing. That said, until I found my tribe there was a lot of uncertainty. I think you need to know yourself and have confidence in who you are to experiment safely and happily. Music was definitely my main priority, never getting wasted, which is why I kept my feet on the ground and never went too far. These days with a 2-year-old, yes my partying days are few and far between—although I will always love a dance! But the focus has definitely switched, and I'm glad I was as wild as I was, as it makes the slower pace much easier to be content with."

I've gone back and forth on how much I'll let Woody into my past, and my take is always honesty. I understand you need to set strong boundaries, and that's hard if you're saying you've tried most of it. BUT I don't think double standards get you anywhere, and I'd hope that my open and honest tack would gain respect and honesty back. Let's see when the teenage years come though—I'll feel it out as we go, but I always hope I will be a mum that he can come to with anything."

We needed more perspective, so we threw it out to our AMP women—where did they sit with this?

“When my son, was 16, he tried a combination of things he shouldn’t have and struggled to get home because of it - he told me the next day what happened - okay he didn’t tell me till the next day but fair enough.. he told me. I'm still always his mum over being his friend and I never condone bad choices or “allow” drugs but he knows I get it - and it makes it less of an out of reach and secret for him - he sees it more for what it is. He also knows he has a base where no matter what, he can tell me what’s happening and I think that’s all we can do as parents. Give love, give strong guidance and listen. "


“As a mother to a 16-year-old and an 11-year-old growing up in East London, I'm in the space where we can no longer pretend drugs aren't a thing. I have always been really honest with my eldest about my own experiences in the hope that my honesty will help him feel safe enough and empowered enough to make the right choices - because let's be real here - he's 16, it's going to happen. It's a tossup because whilst I don't want to be the mum that condones or encourages drug use, but without sounding too contrived here, I would rather I know what he's up to, for so many reasons. My kids are not stupid, I trust him enough to make safe choices - or at least better-informed ones than I did!”


"My thoughts on drugs are really mixed and conflicted. Having struggled with depression since my late teens, I always felt I am living in a weird constructed reality and I was somehow scared to try another dimension with drugs. But then my brother/best friend died from sudden cardiac death, super young, and I needed an escape, so taking drugs actually helped me to finally enjoy light moments and lightness unconditionally. In a way I see them as an amazing therapy. My husband, on the other hand, took a lot of drugs in his teens and was psychotic and could barely leave his house for 5 years from a too strong mushroom mix in Thailand. He would now never touch drugs again."


Shot by Yushy Pachnanda

I think it's safe to say that the "Just Say No" era is long gone. As mothers today, we face uncharted territory of drug conversations in the age of legalization and hallucinogen chic. How the hell do we tell our kids to just say no to recreational drugs when cannabis gets marketed like fine wine? And fine wine, a fool's gold. Prohibition doesn't work, it just drives use underground. Kids have always found ways to party. Except now the stuff on the streets is laced with who knows what. MDMA might be meth. LSD could send you to the hospital. And the wrong pill, to the morgue.

So, we have a choice - either cling to the absolutist rhetoric of the past as drugs proliferate in the shadows. Or be open about risks so our kids actually absorb the warnings, not tune them out.

Some moms may even allow a puff here or a microdose there under safe conditions. Does that make them negligent? Or pragmatically and compassionately honest?

Of course no savvy mother is out bragging about their teen hitting the bong before work or poppin molly every weekend. But burying our heads in the sand doesn't make drugs disappear either. Knowledge is power, even if it means condoning some experimentation.

Otherwise they'll learn through experience alone, which today is a perilous teacher.Our collective aims to impart wisdom, not judgment. We highlight sobering realities over scare tactics. The goal is equipping teens to make informed decisions.

At the end of the day, parenting is an act of faith. Choose the red pill. Or the blue pill. There are never guarantees. We plant seeds of knowledge and hope they take root. What we don't know won't hurt us, but it may still hurt them.


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