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'You can shop for it like a pint of milk' - Co Down family blame legal highs for son's death

Dawn and Carl Owens say the drugs made their some distracted and suicidal.

Image: Flickr

A CO DOWN family say the availability of ‘legal highs’ in Northern Ireland has led to the death of their teenage son.

Adam Owens was found lying dead in a field yards from his home in Newtownards, Co Down on Monday.

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland, his parents say that he began using the legal drugs three years ago and they completely changed him.

His mother and father, Dawn and Carl, say he became suicidal.

“He had suicidal thoughts, he was self-harming, he was getting in trouble with the police,” they told BBC. “He ended up in hospital two or three times. He left our home and 50 yards away he could get legal highs.”

Laws in the UK have been slower to criminalise legal highs with manufacturers of the synthetic drugs keeping ahead of legislation.

The cause of death of the seventeen-year-old has yet be established with a post-mortem due to take place.

Carl Owens says that legal highs must be criminalised so young people can’t purchase them so easily.

“You can shop for it like a pint of milk,” he says, adding that they attempted to get addiction help for the teenager but were unable to.

“There was no help for him. We were actually told there’s nothing in place to help sixteen and seventeen year-olds. If he was 18, he could’ve got help. “

Read: “Business as usual”: If gardaí find you with drugs, you’ll be prosecuted >

Read: Four more legal highs have now been made illegal >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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