Northern Ireland

Adam Owens' death: Mother in plea for more services to tackle "epidemic" of legal high drugs

Adam Owens Image copyright other
Image caption Adam Owens died in April of this year, he had been taking legal high drugs for about three years

The mother of a County Down teenager who died after taking legal high drugs has said more services are needed in Northern Ireland to tackle the problem.

Adam Owens, 17, was discovered in April lying on grass outside a house in Bristol Park in the Westwinds estate, Newtownards.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance but pronounced dead a short time later.

Adele Wallace has said legal high drugs in NI are an "epidemic".

"We took Adam everywhere possible, now in saying that, I personally feel there is not enough help for youths in the whole of Northern Ireland," she said.

"There are not enough services or provision of services for the volume and demand because there is an epidemic of legal highs in Northern Ireland now, it is saturated with them.

"The sad part of the story is that on the 9 April Adam had actually went to the GP himself because his life was a total and utter mess.

"He saw a clinical psychologist on the 9 April and on the 13 April he died.

"The side effects that would have been presented with the legal high he took are not pleasant, so I actually find it has greatly upset me as you now have these images in your head thinking of how he spent his last moments. It is not nice."

Horrified

Ms Wallace, was speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster, after delivering a talk at a church in Ballysillan, north Belfast, on Thursday night.

She said she was horrified when she first learned how accessible legal highs were and warned people to stay away from them.

"There is so much of it out there, so many sites that are selling this stuff and then of course you get the other side of the coin, people dealing in the street round the corner," she said.

"It is as easy as turning on the water tap to get hold of stuff like this.

"No drug is a good drug, but especially legal highs because they are vile, toxic, deadly drugs."

Several deaths in the UK have been linked to legal highs.

More than 200 of the substances have been banned since 2010.

In the Republic of Ireland, "legal high" drugs are banned by law.

Emergency legislation was put forward in March after a loophole in the law meant that it was legal to possess drugs such as ecstasy, crystal meth and ketamine.

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