Boys found near to death after taking muscle relaxants
Four young teenagers found in a semi-conscious state after taking tablets thought to be muscle relaxants were minutes away from death according to medics treating the boys.
The four friends all aged between 14 and 15 were rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry after falling into a semi-conscious state a short time after they took what is understood to be medication normally used to treat multiple sclerosis.
The condition of three of the boys was described as "stable" by doctors while the state of health of the fourth boy is unclear.
All four are from the Galliagh area of Derry where the alarm was raised by another in the group who panicked when the teenagers slipped into a semi-conscious state.
Independent councillor for the area Dermot Quigley said all the boys are lucky to be alive as they were moments away from death.
He said: "I spoke to the mother of one of the boys and it looks like their condition is steadily improving but she told me the staff at the hospital said the boys were within 10 minutes of death.
"One of the boys panicked and rang an ambulance when he saw his friends slide into a semi-conscious state which was absolutely the right thing to do because that call almost certainly saved the lives of those four boys.
"The parents are so thankful that they are not dealing with a tragedy and have warned other young people against experimenting with any kind of drugs, something I would also obviously echo.
"We live in a pill-popping society where people think there is a pill for every ill and while I don't think these young boys were part of that, they were experimenting and as far as we know, the medication they took was prescribed muscle relaxants used to treat MS.
"I would encourage anyone who has any kind of strong medication in the house to keep it locked in a medicine cabinet and away from temptation of young people who are unaware of the potential harm it could cause."
A PSNI spokesman said investigations are continuing into how the boys came to have the prescription drugs.
He said: "Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, police received reports that four teenage boys had been admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital for treatment for the effects of taking substances that have, as yet, not been identified.
"Enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances and to identify the nature of the substances."
Muscle relaxants are commonly used for the treatment of different types of conditions including multiple sclerosis and muscular pain or spasms from diseases or injury such as low back pain. They are very powerful drugs which may produce negative effects, including heart failure and paralysis, but patients most commonly report sedation as the main effect.