Belfast Telegraph

Adam Wallace's grieving mum wants more done to tackle teen drug crisis

Adele Wallace’s son Adam was addicted to drugs
Adele Wallace’s son Adam was addicted to drugs
Adele Wallace’s son Adam
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A mother whose 17-year-old son died after taking drugs six years ago has said more needs to be done to address drug dependency among young people.

Health officials issued an alert after four teenagers who "unintentionally overdosed" on pregabalin were admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.

It is understood the four, who were all aged 17, were later discharged.

Adele Wallace, whose son Adam lost his life through his addiction to drugs, said parents should be given more rights when the lives of their teenagers are at risk.

Adam was found dead in April 2015 in the Westwinds estate in Newtownards.

His mother said: "My son would have had his 22nd birthday last weekend but in the years since Adam died, the pain has never gotten any easier.

"Thank God these four teenagers made it and their parents were not left in the horrible position I found myself in, but anyone taking illegal drugs is playing Russian roulette. The age of these teenagers brings another problem for parents trying to get help, which we experienced with Adam.

"Because he was under 18 before he died, certain organisations couldn't help him, which was soul-destroying for us.

"My child should have been locked in a secure unit to keep him safe and I would have quite happily put him in somewhere to keep him safe and get him detoxed, but I wasn't able to.

"There are obviously times when a child should have a voice, but in our circumstances with Adam - and it will be the same for the parents in the same position - Adam had more power than we had as his parent.

"To me this is wrong, especially when your child is taking drugs and putting their life at risk."

Ms Wallace said dual assessment of anyone addicted to either prescribed or illegal drugs should be routine.

She said: "I am aware that there are limited resources and budget constraints, but at the same time kids are dying from their addiction to drugs and nothing seems to be getting done about it.

"Until dependency and mental health are part of a dual assessment this will not go away and will continue to get worse.

"Currently kids, or adults, are taken to hospital and treated for the symptoms they present with from the drugs, and then they are thrown out the door the next day because they can't psychiatric-assess them.

"It is common knowledge that mental health problems stem from addiction and dependency, whether it's drink, prescribed medication or drugs obtained illegally."

A spokeswoman for the Public Health Authority said: "The PHA frequently issues alerts about the dangers of mixing drugs, to those who work closest with those affected by drug and alcohol misuse, through the Drug and Alcohol Monitoring and Information System. This has included warnings about the dangers associated with pregabalin.

"The PHA strongly recommends that you do not take anything unless it has been prescribed to you by a medical professional and in accordance with your prescription."

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