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Pal of 'legal high' tragedy teen urges ban on substances

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 16/04/2015

Adam Owens died taking legal highs
Adam Owens died taking legal highs

A Bangor teenager is urging young people not to take so-called 'legal highs' following the death of Newtownards boy Adam Owens.

Anya Gore (17) is appealing to her peers not to use the dangerous new psychoactive substances, as they can have devastating consequences.

This comes after her 17-year-old friend was discovered lying in the Bristol Park area of the West Winds estate on Monday.

A post-mortem is due to be carried out, but the parents of Adam predict mind-altering substances will be present in his system.

They said taking 'legal highs' for three years transformed him "from a happy intelligent young man into a suicidal teenager".

Anya's Facebook page - Help Ban Legal Highs - has attracted more than 7,500 fans so far.

"The sale of legal highs needs to stop," Anya said. "I am petrified of that stuff. I don't understand why people haven't stopped before. People only realise when it's one of your friends and then it is too late."

Anya paid tribute to her friend.

She said: "Adam was really, really, really nice. He was always there for everyone.

"If you were upset he had the answer. He would say he was stopping everything and do a clean slate but then I have no idea what happened. I started the page because I felt Adam's mum Adele Wallace needed some support."

Stormont Health Minister Jim Wells is working with the Home Office in an effort to ban the sale of the substances.

"The only way for people to be safe is not to take any substance that hasn't been prescribed specifically for them -whether they are labelled as 'legal' or not," he said.

"I feel the need to reinforce the message that these substances which are being used by some of our young population are new. They haven't been tested on humans, they aren't quality assured and they come with no guarantee as to what is actually in them as they often change ingredients and doses from packet to packet and batch to batch.

"This means these substances are as dangerous as illegal drugs like ecstasy or cocaine - and the uncertainty can actually make them even more deadly."

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