A grieving mother has called for the festivals around the nation to provide pill testing services, saying her son would still be alive if the service had been provided.
Since her 34-year-old son Daniel died of a drug overdose at a Victorian music festival in January 2012, Adriana Buccianti has been a fierce advocate of pill testing. Ms Buccianti retold her story at Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform’s 24th Annual Remembrance Ceremony in Weston Park, a service honouring the memory of those who have died from illicit drugs.
Daniel was at the Rainbow Serpent Festival in Western Victoria when he called his mum around 6:00 pm on Saturday evening.
“He said to me, ‘mum, mum, come and get me, I have taken something that I have never taken before'”, Ms Buccianti told Region Media. “He told me had taken some acid, which I knew he had taken before but he said it wasn’t like anything he had taken before.”
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Ms Buccianti started to get ready to drive to the festival and pick up her son, but before she left, she called him again to see how he was.
“I managed to get him again on his mobile phone around 7:00 pm but he said that I shouldn’t come and get him because he felt fine again,” she said. “He said ‘don’t come and get me, I love you and I’ll see you on Monday'”.
That was the last time she heard from her son. At around 8:30 am the next morning, the police were knocking on her door, saying they believed Daniel had died from a suspected drug overdose.
“I couldn’t for the life of me believe he was gone,” she said. “At the time, I was grief-stricken and I started calling for festivals to be closed and everyone had to go to jail.
“I had bought my son his ticket for the festival, so the following year I got a text message telling me to buy early bird tickets. You can imagine my reaction and I said some horrible things. It set off a chain of events, and the festival organisers and I started to collaborate and the following year, I opened the festival for them, sharing the message of staying safe.”
In 2015, Ms Buccianti helped launch a petition for pill testing services to be provided at music festivals around the nation, which has gathered over 125,000 signatures.
“I didn’t want my son’s death to be a drug statistic so I had to make sure no other parent had to go through the same experience I have,” she said. “We have now had 12 deaths at festivals since 2012 and there are many others that we don’t hear about.”
The ACT Government is the only state or territory to have pill-testing service at its music festival, trialling the service at the past two Groovin the Moo festivals in Canberra. The trials have been labelled a success after seven people surrendered their illicit drugs during this year’s event.
Ms Buccianti is imploring every state and territory to follow the ACT’s lead, with the firm belief that pill testing would have saved her son’s life.
“I believe that if a pill testing service had been available, he would still be alive,” she said. “He was naive to think that the acid he took was the same stuff he had taken years ago. Not only is it important to test the substance but it is important to have a conversation.
“Regardless if people do or don’t take it, people can tell them that no drug is a good drug. The only way to guarantee to get out of here alive is not to take anything.”