Belfast mother releases coma image of son as a drug warning

By Dan Stanton
BBC News

image source, Jane Brown
image captionPolice said Geordie Brown had taken the prescription drug Lyrica

A mother has released a picture of her son in a coma to try to deter him and other youths from using drugs.

Geordie Brown, 16, was found unconscious near his home in west Belfast.

He has since been discharged from hospital and is recovering at home.

Jane Brown said she hoped the photograph of him in hospital would put other young people off misusing prescription drugs.

"Please, please don't. This could end your lives," she said.

"Nobody wants that. We don't want to see another child die because of these drugs."

image captionJane Brown said she hoped the image would deter other young people

Her son was found after he collapsed on Carolina Street, just off the Shankill Road, on Tuesday night.

Ms Brown said police told her he had taken a prescription drug called Lyrica, which is normally used to treat people with epilepsy and chronic pain.

"It was really heartbreaking. The hospital said it could bring him around and he'd be alive and he'd be OK, but we just didn't know if he was going to be brain damaged or have organ failure.

"Because, these tablets, you don't know what they're doing to these kids.

"Geordie says it's easier to buy the drugs than a packet of cigarettes, which is a really scary, scary thought."

Lyrica was last year linked to the death of a teenager. It was one of a cocktail of drugs used by Aaron Strong, 19.

image captionStephen Pollock said young people find it easy to get a hold of prescription drugs

Stephen Pollock, the co-ordinator of the Greater Shankill ACT (Action for Community Transformation), said the area's problems with prescription drugs were getting worse.

"They're (young people) playing Russian roulette with their lives. It's just crazy.

"Every week, you're hearing more of it. The kids are saying they can get a hold of these things easier than they can get cigarettes or alcohol, they're just everywhere and they're so cheap."

At the start of this month the PSNI said it was investigating the sudden deaths of five people in the greater Belfast area which they believe may have been linked to drug misuse.