Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Mother's drugs diary a powerful deterrent

Kealan Burke
Kealan Burke

Teresa Burke is a remarkable woman. As she watched her beloved 22-year-old son Kealan die from a drug overdose, she decided to record graphic images of his final days as a warning to others. Only someone who has gone through the dreadful experience of seeing their child die from drug abuse can really comprehend what she must have been feeling as his life ebbed away, yet even then she was thinking of others.

As her images and video show, the reality of drug use is much removed from the glamour that is sometimes attached to it.

Kealan was in a vegetative state as a result of his overdose, incapable of doing anything for himself and unable of hearing or seeing. It was a shocking way to die and Teresa hopes that it will indeed shock other young impressionable people. For her son's life and death will have special meaning if young people heed her message to give drugs a miss.

She lives in a remote rural area, yet the tentacles of drug peddlers reached into that community and snared her son.

Often drug abuse is linked to urban sink estates, but the reality is that drug use and abuse knows no class, social or economic boundaries and neither do the often dreadful consequences.

The horrific fact is that drug dealers don't care about those consequences.

Earlier this year it was revealed that some 20 people have died in Northern Ireland from taking a type of stimulant, yet that drug is still being sold on the streets and anywhere young people gather.

Yet, apart from their immediate families, these people's deaths have made little impression on society here.

Mrs Burke's story – and those of other families who have lost loved ones to this scourge – should be compulsory viewing for anyone tempted to take drugs or even those already hooked.

They must realise that one day they could be lying helpless in a bed just like Kealan, a life being snuffed out before it had begun to realise its potential.

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