PIPS Larne’s chair fears prescription drugs are increasing in popularity amongst the young, after a 12-year-old boy sought the group’s aid.`
Carlee Letson spoke to the Times after the new Psychoactive Substances Bill became law on Thursday May 26.
The new legislation makes it an offence to produce, distribute, sell and supply new psychoactive substances (NPS), also known as legal highs, with those caught facing up to seven years in prison.
However, Carlee told the Times that she now fears that young people in Larne are increasingly turning to prescription drugs as it becomes harder to access legal highs.
“There has been an increase in children taking prescription drugs in Larne, particularly amongst the 12 to 25 age group,” Carlee revealed.
“In the past couple of months we have been treating seven or eight children, the youngest of whom was 12 years old and who was taking a strong anti-epileptic drug.
“He got in touch with us through a friend and we put him in touch with Extern, who provide counselling for young people aged 12 to 19 years old.
“Young people are also taking opiods, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines. They tear the labels off the bottles, but we know what the tablets are.
“I had a meeting with the PSNI, churches and other agencies in November and warned them they would have to monitor this, as it would replace legal highs. “Some parents in the town are tearing their hair out, they are in total despair not knowing what to do.”
Worryingly, Carlee says that some children are increasing the health risk further by consuming the drugs with alcohol and other substances.
“We don’t know how they will interact,” Carlee continued.
“The 12-year-old represents a one-off in terms of treating that age group at the moment, but we don’t know how many other 12-year-olds are out there who aren’t getting help.”
Contact PIPS Larne’s on 07530 797716.