A Dungiven man has spoken of his family’s heartbreak at a teenage loved one’s involvement in drugs.
The man, who preferred not to be named, told the ’Journal’ he wanted to speak out in a bid to raise awareness among other families, and alert them to the warning signs of drug abuse.
“It’s heartbreaking and, at first, we really didn’t know what to do because drugs never bothered our house before, so it’s a shock,” he said.
The man, a close family relative, believes the teen got caught up in the drugs trade in recent months. He says the family believe dealers from Limavady are supplying drugs in the Dungiven area to the teen and others.
“It’s hard to know exactly when it started, but the young fella is off his head at times. We really only found out recently, because his behaviour was so erratic. His mother knew there was something up.”
The man said the teen frequently goes missing after nights out, forcing family members to conduct frantic late night searches.
“There are times we don’t know where he is,” he said, adding there had also been incidents of the teen stealing to pay for drugs.
“We have challenged him, but it doesn’t get us anywhere,” said the man, “but we are determined to get him off these drugs.”
The family is seeking help, with assistance of local community representatives.
“He’s not a ba d lad, but since he started taking drugs he’s off his head and you couldn’t chat to him. His mother, all of us, are really worried about him and there’s the fear of self harm, or him hurting someone else.
“We are hoping to get him onto a programme to get him off the drugs, because he is too young for this.
“Like I say, drugs never came to our house before, so it’s a wile shock. I never thought, none of us did, that anyone belonging to us would be involved in drugs.
“It messes up everything, but the dealers don’t care. They must know they are ruining lives but, I suppose, they’re just in it for the money.
“It’s only when it comes to your doorstep you realise how terrible it is.
“Drugs mess up everything; the person taking the drugs and the worry and stress it puts on a family is terrible.”
In recent weeks, police in Limavady have seized almost £100,000 of drugs and made several arrests.
Along with the Limavady District Policing Partmership, they have launched a campaign aimed at catching anyone involed in the supply and sale of drugs.
Limavady mayor, Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey is organising a drugs awareness event in Dungiven.
“It’s not until it comes to your doorstep will anyone realise the horrors of drugs and how it affects a family,” he said. “I have seen how it affects people and it’s heartbreaking.”