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Tragic young boy's drug plight is a warning to all

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 14/04/2016

Ecstasy tablets seized by the police
Ecstasy tablets seized by the police

The scourge of drugs continues to plague Northern Ireland, and today we tell the tragic story of Arlene Shannon, whose son Liam (14) has profound drug and mental health problems.

She has been fighting for quite some time to have him treated properly, but so far without success.

The devastating effect of drugs is illustrated by the picture we publish of Liam as a cherubic boy a few short years ago. His dramatic slide into the abyss of drug-taking and its consequences are horrifying.

His mother paints a grim and graphic picture of the situation in the Ardoyne area of Belfast, which she says, is "awash" with dangerous class A drugs and legal highs.

Her attempts to help save her son and to have him treated seem to have fallen on deaf ears thus far. He is currently in the Beechcroft psychiatric unit in south Belfast, but his mother believes that it is not secure enough to hold him.

Arlene used social media to locate him, and eventually he was stopped just in the nick of time while trying to commit suicide.

By any standards this is a desperate family situation, and Arlene and her son are very much in need of help.

Arlene is furious at the way in which drugs mule Michaella McCollum was used recently to glamorise her current situation after being released early from prison in Peru, where she had been stopped from transporting cocaine to Europe.

The drugs trade is far from glamorous, and brings suffering and death to too many individuals as well as heartache to their families.

This newspaper has consistently maintained that the only effective way of dealing with the pernicious social evil of drugs is a twin-track approach.

There must be zero tolerance by police to the possession and supply of narcotics.

And also an adequately-funded health and social care system to help and to treat drug victims.

And it is important to stress that there can be no place for a culture that habitually refuses to help the authorities when it comes to passing on to the police any information about those who deal in drugs and profit from this dastardly trade.

As a society, it is everyone's duty to tackle this great social evil in our midst. People in the depths of despair deserve nothing less.

Belfast Telegraph

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