Kids used to drink cider to push the­more bound­aries.. but now it’s coke & ec­stasy

Top doc­tor warns war on drugs ‘can’t be won’

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS - BY RYAN SMITH

TEENAGERS are get­ting hooked on dan­ger­ous and ad­dic­tive drugs in­stead of al­co­hol, it’s been warned.

Chil­dren as young as 15 are ar­riv­ing un­con­scious to hos­pi­tals in what a top doc­tor said is a war that “can’t be won”.

Dr Ais­ling Di­a­mond added: “Kids used to take a bot­tle of cider to push the bound­aries, now they’re tak­ing co­caine and ec­stasy.”

The Emer­gency Depart­ment con­sul­tant at the Mater Hospi­tal in Belfast warned the fright­en­ing trend has been on­go­ing for two years but warned it is “get­ting worse”.

Po­lice are cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing a high num­ber of deaths linked to drugs in the city in just three weeks.

Dr Di­a­mond said: “The age is fall­ing and fall­ing. My per­cep­tion is that in this coun­try peo­ple don’t re­alise how big an is­sue this is.

“They don’t seem to think it’s a prob­lem but it’s a huge prob­lem and it’s get­ting big­ger.

“Ec­stasy is the choice drug for younger peo­ple and they’re mix­ing that with pre­scrip­tion drugs, the likes of co­caine, and with al­co­hol.

“Years ago you had cider and you thought you were the king of the hill – that’s all out the win­dow now.”

Dr Di­a­mond, who also works at big con­certs and events in Belfast, said teens are reg­u­larly be­ing brought into in­ten­sive care over drug use. She said: “They’re usu­ally un­con­scious. Tem­per­a­tures are fly­ing through the roof and they be­come very, very ag­i­tated.

“We are get­ting young peo­ple reg­u­larly on a weekly ba­sis un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs and al­co­hol.

“The pa­tients I’ve dealt with have sur­vived but quite a few have ended up in in­ten­sive care.

“Last week­end one 15-year-old was brought into in­ten­sive care.

“He had to spend the night in in­ten­sive care to sta­bilise him.”

The lat­est po­lice fig­ures show dru­gre­lated ar­rests have in­creased by more than 16%. The fig­ures are based on the 12 months to Septem­ber 30, 2018.

They also state there were 6,771 nar­cotics seizures in the same pe­riod.

Dr Di­a­mond said: “My gut feel­ing is we’re not go­ing to win. The only thing we could maybe do is re­duce the risk and re­duce harms, but I don’t think we’re go­ing to win.

“The drugs have got into the com­mu­ni­ties and they’ve gained so much trac­tion that I don’t think we’re go­ing to get rid of them.”

West Belfast youth worker Stephen Hughes said a new ap­proach is nec­es­sary.

He added: “So­ci­ety just sees them as lit­tle scum­bags or hoods. But ul­ti­mately these peo­ple are harm­ing them­selves.

“We are not tak­ing the risks needed to tackle drugs. Now it’s all about get­ting the po­lice in­volved but we need to look beyond that.”

HUGE RISKS and more teens turn to drugs DAN­GER­OUS Ec­stasy tablets

CON­CERNED Dr Ais­ling Di­a­mond

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