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What It's Like to Do Drugs with Your Parents

Bo Hanna

"My parents, my friend, and I ended up having a white Christmas."

Illustrations by Fernando Leon

This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands.

Given that you've lived with them for almost two decades and they've seen you naked for a good part of that time, there probably isn't a lot about you that will deeply embarrass your parents. Still, there's probably a couple of things you'd rather not do in front of them—having sex, watching porn, or doing drugs are a few things that come to mind. And yet, some have no problem with snorting a few lines or popping a pill with the people who gave them life.

So what's that like? I spoke to three people who got high with their parents to find out.

Robin, 21, Occasionally Does Cocaine with His Father

VICE: What did your parents tell you about drugs when you were younger?
Robin: My family is pretty laid-back. My father used to be a dealer himself, and so did my mom. They often went to the [legendary Amsterdam night club] RoXY, and are very open about their past and all the things they got up to. My dad wanted me to be completely honest with him, especially when it came to drugs. But I ended up not telling him at first when I started trying some, because I still found it all a bit weird and scary. I was sixteen when I first took a pill, and of course he immediately knew when I got home, because he knew the signs.

How did he respond?
He was upset that I hadn't told him beforehand. He wanted to make sure that I knew all the risks and didn't do anything stupid—like take a bad pill, for example.

And the first time you did drugs with your dad, was that planned or spontaneous?
No, that definitely wasn't planned. It just sort of happened. When I was about eighteen, my dad gave me a wrap of coke as I was heading out to go to a party with a friend. That sort of set the tone for the rest of our relationship. When that same friend later came over for dinner on Christmas Day, it just happened. My parents, my friend, and I ended up having a white Christmas.

What was that like?
It was really cool. We had some great conversations and could suddenly talk about stuff that we usually found difficult to talk about—in that moment we were very intimate and open with one another.

How do you look back on it now?
Well, my dad does see it as a way to get closer to me, to strengthen our father-son relationship. So I don't know how spontaneous it all was for him. He might see it as a sort of replacement for the emotional connection that's missing between us. I was really happy that we could do this together for about a year or two, but now I look at it a bit differently. I don't think it should be the basis of our relationship.

What do your friends think about your using drugs with your parents?
My friends have done coke with my dad sometimes, and they think it's very cool that I can do that with my parents. Some friends do think it's a bit odd—and I get where they're coming from.

Has anything embarrassing ever happened?
I once stopped by my parents' with some friends after gay pride in Amsterdam, and we did a line together. He really embarrassed me that time—he kept on telling my friends how cool they were and yelling things like: "Oh, Robin, your friends are so great!"

Timo, 28, Did MDMA with His Mom at a Festival

What did your parents tell you about drugs when you were growing up?
Timo: It was a big taboo. Drugs are bad and addictive—that's what they told me. My image of a drug user was someone lying in the gutter with a needle sticking out of his arm—not very positive.

But you still ended up doing drugs?
Yes, I was about twenty-three and going through a rough patch in my relationship. My friends took me to a festival in Belgium, where I tried ecstasy for the first time. That was such an eye opener for me—I was completely overwhelmed by the experience. I had never felt like that before. I had no idea it was even possible to feel like that. That was the beginning of something new for me—everything I'd been told about drugs turned out to be wrong. It didn't instantly turn you into an addict or a bad person—it made you really open, empathic, and loving. So I started wondering what else was out there, and basically went through the whole menu.

How did you get your parents involved?
About three months later, I told my mom. I was so nervous, because I had no idea how she was going to respond. I told her while we were at the gym together, and she was really curious and open-minded about it. I told her that it was the best experience I'd ever had. I guess I painted a pretty rosy picture, because it didn't take long for her to say that she'd maybe like to try it sometime, too.

How did you go about it after that?
I definitely wanted her to experience what it was like. I started thinking about a situation where I could do this with her, and then I figured that it should be somewhere in the open air, on a nice summer day, at a place where she wouldn't feel like "the mom." I ended up choosing the festival Dance Valley, in the Netherlands, where no one would mind that I'd come with my mom. I'd already been there twice before—they play accessible music, cheerful house stuff, and it doesn't only attract twenty-somethings.

And then what?
I gave my mom, who was fifty-one at the time, a capsule with a quarter dose of MDMA. I'd had it tested beforehand, and figured out the dose based on her weight, which she felt was very important. I didn't want her to feel unsafe, but it didn't go very smoothly; she felt heavy-headed and struggled to place the feeling. So I ended up giving her another quarter dose, and after that, it all went well—she started dancing and just let it all happen. That's the thing: She's a bit of a control freak, and I wanted her to loosen up a bit.

How did the people around you react?
My friends at the festival thought it was very special and told my mom that they enjoyed having her there. But there were a lot of people who couldn't imagine doing something like that with their mothers.

Did that experience change your relationship with your mother?
It was a bit of a risk, of course, because our roles were suddenly reversed. I was the responsible one. But I still look back on it fondly, because she really trusted me and that was a great feeling. It has only made our relationship stronger.

Have you done it again since?
Absolutely. After the first time, she only got more curious, because it didn't go all that well in the beginning. So we went to Dance Valley again the year after, and I gave her a higher dose right away—it all went swimmingly. She was super happy, and we had some really nice conversations. She told me what a great son I am, which was cool. I'd had those kinds of druggy conversations before with friends, but not with my mom.

Did anything embarrassing ever happen?
No. She had to sit down every now and then, but that was it. It was all lovely. Of course, you're not going to hug each other constantly and stuff, but we just sat in the grass and had a good talk.

Would you recommend it to others?
Well, if you can have an intense experience with your parents that you'll all remember fondly for the rest of your lives, then I'm all for that. It's a present to yourself and your parents. I've really seen my mother change afterward—she's a very different and much warmer person now.

Because of the drugs?
Yes, absolutely. My mother mostly knows parties where people get drunk, annoying, and aggressive. Here, the atmosphere was friendly and loving—she hadn't expected that. And she has really started to appreciate the music. We even went to Amsterdam Dance Event together last year. And we've done 4FMP and 2C-B together too, which was great.

Fleur*, 21, Used 2C-B with Her Dad After Missing the Last Train Home

VICE: What did your parents tell you about drugs when you were growing up?
Fleur: My parents have always been very open about everything, but they didn't encourage drug use. They did give me some informational pamphlets, because they figured the chance that I'd never try any kind of drug was pretty slim. Sometimes they said stuff like, "We were young once too, you know"—so I knew they weren't completely naïve.

Was the first time that you did drugs with your parents planned?
No, it was very spontaneous. We'd never really discussed it beforehand or anything. We just sort of stumbled upon it.

How did that happen?
About three years ago, when I was eighteen, my dad and I went out for a drink in Amsterdam. We got so drunk that we missed the last train home and went to stay with a friend of my father's. The drug 2C-B was still quite new at the time, and my dad's friend was telling us about it. We initially joked that we were interested in trying some. Then he asked if we really wanted some, because he had a bit lying around at home, and then we just sort of went for it.

So you took 2C-B together. What happened next?
Well, it was mostly just really fun. We had some nice conversations, started philosophizing about all sorts of stuff. At some point, we weren't sure if the tiles on the wall had been that size the whole time or not. We both started hallucinating, so together we tried to figure out what was real and what wasn't. We just had a lot of fun.

What did your mom think about that?
I think she found it kind of funny. I've smoked weed with my parents before, so it wasn't really an issue.

How do you look back on it now—was it embarrassing or did you like it?
Looking back, I think of it as a good thing—I've shared a wonderful experience with him that I won't forget anytime soon.

* Fleur's name was changed to protect her and her father's privacy.