Belfast Telegraph

Heartbroken Derry mum who lost daughter to drugs desperate to find help for addict son

Amanda Deehan
Amanda Deehan
With her mum Christine and dad Gerard celebrating her brother Gerard’s graduation
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The Londonderry mother of a woman who died from her addiction to prescription and counterfeit drugs is terrified she will also lose one of her sons to the same fate.

Christine Deehan's daughter Amanda (34) passed away in January, two days after she was admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital following a relapse in her long battle with addiction.

Amanda had been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, for which she was prescribed medication, but she was soon seeking out counterfeit prescription drugs.

She was the only daughter of Waterside couple Christine and Gerard Deehan, who fear one of their five sons, who is also addicted to counterfeit drugs, will die before he gets the help he needs.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Deehan said: "No one knows the pain in my heart over Amanda, but I can't grieve for her properly because I am terrified her brother, who is also addicted to the same drugs, is going to die too.

"He was taken to hospital last Friday but was let home again - something I knew nothing about until the police called here on Saturday morning with him after taking him away from the bridge.

"There needs to be a detox centre in Derry because when people are on these drugs they think they are fantastic and don't need any help, but my son does want help now. He is practically begging to get into rehab.

"I have already buried my one and only daughter and I don't want to have to bury another child."

Her plea came just months after Coroner Joe McCrisken called the rising number of deaths in Northern linked to fake versions of anti-anxiety drug Xanax "an escalating crisis".

Mrs Deehan continued: "It is so frustrating as a mother to have to watch one of your children destroy themselves because they are addicted, especially when you have sat beside another one of your children as she drew her last breath. The doctors have told us that my son needs to want the help himself and he does now, but the help isn't there.

"Amanda wanted help too and she was doing so well. She had been clean, but then she relapsed and there were people only too willing to sell her the 'Belfast blues (nickname of the drugs).

"Just before she died, Amanda said to me, 'I had a wee slip, mummy, but I am going to get better and I will make you so proud of me'. That was the last words she said to me.

"I have been left broken-hearted and I have never felt pain like this.

"I get up every day and I think I am in a bad dream, but it's not a dream.

"People need to know that this is what addiction does to a family and I want people to know this because I don't want another family to suffer the way we are suffering."

One of Amanda's five brothers, Gerard, described his sister as his best friend and said he would always remember her as the loving, bubbly person she was before she was in the grip of addiction.

"Amanda was my best friend. She was so brave and bubbly and caring and tried so hard to get help, but she relapsed and we couldn't save her," he said.

"She was first given prescription drugs for a borderline personality disorder. She did have mental health problems but she was trying her best.

"Counterfeit drugs like Belfast blues are too easy to get in Derry.

"The drug dealers in Derry need to get off the backs of the people because you wouldn't believe the number of people who are dying in the city."

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