THREE fathers are on a mission to educate teenagers on the dangers of synthetic drugs.
Scarborough’s Rod Bridge established non-profit organisation Sideffect following the death of his 16-year-old son Preston, who died in 2013 after taking a form of synthetic LSD and falling from a Scarborough hotel balcony.
He runs the organisation with friend David Hobbs, of Carine, and Chris Waterman, whose son Alec was close friends with Preston.
The trio are passionate about early drug intervention and it is a journey that has taken Mr Bridge to China, where he went undercover to meet synthetic drug bosses and discover how easy it was to import these to Australia, and most recently to Los Angeles, where he was interviewed by Vanity Fair Confidential about the jailed founder of online drug marketplace Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht.
Mr Bridge’s goal is a simple one: “To turn a negative into a positive.”
“I made it a mission now to educate teenagers, youths and parents of the dangers of synthetic drugs,” he said.
“It makes you feel like life has a purpose. I feel like it’s my responsibility.”
Sideffect delivered its first school presentation to 2600 students at Preston’s former school, Churchlands Senior High School, in July.
Mr Bridge said they were considered “mavericks” of drug education but believed their fear-based method was effective.
“The beauty of ours is that ours is a true story and it really resonates,” he said.
“It really makes them think.”
Mr Hobbs left his $280,000 annual salary job to work for the organisation.
Last year his son James was attacked outside a Mandurah club by a group of men he believed were affected by drugs, which left him beaten and with a brain aneurism.
“That’s just another thing that drives me,” he said. “We’re fired up, we’re passionate.
“I know what we do works.”
The organisation also works with mining companies and Tafes, and is launching The Orange Card program where workers can complete an online synthetic drug awareness course to increase workplace safety.
Despite Sideffect’s progress, Mr Hobbs said they were in need of support from businesses as it received no government funding.
“We don’t need a lot, we just need a little bit of financial support,” he said.
“We believe this is a community problem.”
For Mr Bridge, his son’s legacy continues to inspire him.
“I firmly believe Preston’s death happened for me to be doing this, otherwise there would be no point,” he said.
“I feel like it’s a mission I’m on and I’m not going to stop.”