Belfast Telegraph

Parents call for ban on legal highs

The devastated parents of a Northern Ireland schoolboy found dead on a housing estate have called for a ban on legal highs.

Adam Owens, 17, from Newtownards in Co Down, was found lying face-down in a green area of the Westwinds estate yesterday.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance but died shortly after.

The teenager's father , Carl Owens, said: " Why are they selling drugs that kill our kids? You can shop for it like a pint of milk.

"Why, why?"

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death and a post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out.

Mr Owens claimed his son, a pupil at Regent House, had been abusing legal highs for about three years and developed an addiction which transformed his personality.

"He had suicidal thoughts, he was cutting himself, self-harming," he told the BBC.

"He was getting in trouble with the police. He ended up in hospital two or three times, all because of legal highs."

The family said they had tried to get help but none was available.

Mr Owens said: "There was no help for him. We were actually told there was nothing in place to help 16 and 17-year-olds.

"If he had been 18, he could have got help."

Legal highs are synthetic drugs and are sold over the internet or in so-called head shops. They are designed to imitate the effects of outlawed psychoactive substances such as ecstasy and cannabis.

Users report having suicidal thoughts as the effects of the drugs wear off and legal highs have been linked to several deaths in the UK in recent years.

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