Monday 23 July 2018

'The reaction has been phenomenal, there are people who cry' - How sister of teen who died from synthetic drug is sharing his story

'It keeps my brother's memory alive, he wasn't just a guy who took a drug at a party, he was a lot more and something good can come from it'

Nicole's brother Alex, who died after taking the N Bomb drug Photo: Provision
Nicole's brother Alex, who died after taking the N Bomb drug Photo: Provision
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

The heartbroken sister of a young man who died after taking party drug 'N Bomb' has said that drugs robbed her brother of his future.

Alex Ryan (18) died from a heart attack after taking a synthetic substance nicknamed N Bomb in January 2015 at a house party in Cork.

Five others were hospitalised after taking the powdered drug at the party.

Alex's sister Nicole (24) has spoken about how her family's dreams for him were snatched away when he died.

Nicole Ryan, from Millstreet in Cork, told Independent.ie: "Life hasn't been easy, I don't think it will get any easier, we'll just have to try and re-adjust but it'll be there every single day.

"He'll never graduate or get married or have a family, my children will never have an uncle and I'll never have nieces or nephews.

"It's simple things like that that people might take for granted that have been taken away from me."

Nicole has established Alex's Memory Of A Lifetime, where she visits secondary schools and youth clubs to share her story and provide information about drugs.

She said: "I started Alex's Adventure Of A Lifetime two months after he died, at the beginning I was petrified but I had to find a way of coping with his death.

"I used to not be able to talk about his death and I was trying to cope by burying my feelings but it would come out in different ways.

Tributes have been pouring in for 18-year-old Alex Ryan, who lost his life after taking the psychoactive drug N-Bomb
Tributes have been pouring in for 18-year-old Alex Ryan, who lost his life after taking the psychoactive drug N-Bomb

"It was leading down to a destructive path really, I had been throwing into something I never thought I would experience.

"Then I thought even the most horrible of situations have a silver lining, I thought maybe if I went out to young people and shared my story they might change their mind about taking something.

"If my brother heard someone speaking like this he would have been more aware and more educated, he might have made a different choice that night," she continued.

Read More: 'One mistake cost him his life' - lethal drug which killed teen sourced on the 'DarkWeb' from Thai supplier for sale in Cork

"I was petrified the first time but the reaction has been phenomenal, there are people who cry and see he's a real person.

"At the end of the day you can't stop everyone but you can give them information that can change their lives."

She continued to say: "It's part of Alex's legacy, he was an organ donor so he also prolonged and enhanced four people's lives.

"But it also keeps his memory alive, he wasn't just a guy who took a drug at a party, he was a lot more and something good can come from it."

Next month Nicole will travel to the UK to give a speech to Anyone's Child, a group who are fighting to change drug policies there, she is also hoping to expand the initiative here.

Despite the success of the programme, she admits she has received some stinging comments from trolls.

She said: "I've had people say that I'm trying to get famous from my brother's death, it threw me the first time but after I heard it a few times I knew it didn't make a difference, I'm trying to do something to help others."

She has said she would like to see more information supplied to young people about different drugs.

Read More: 'They were actually laughing at us and high-fiving friends' - Sister of N-Bomb death teen disgusted as two members of drug trio walk free

Nicole also wants test kits to be supplied in places like colleges and nightclubs, so people can check what they're actually taking.

She said: "There's not enough being done to try and deter people from taking drugs, I do believe that we don't give enough credit to young people - because they are smart - but they will retaliate if you patronise them.

"If you give them the correct information they'll make an informed choice for themselves and that's the bes you can do but the 'Just Say No' approach has been failing for years.

"My biggest worry is that it's everywhere, it's not just at festivals or nights out like maybe it was ten years ago, it's everywhere.

"It's in every small town and village in Ireland, the amount of drugs available is staggering and nobody knows what's in them.

"It's frightening, so many people are dying needlessly but we all believe we're invincible."

"It's also an experimental culture and when you move away from home you are introduced to all these new experiences that you might want to try, plus there's also peer pressure."

Alex had completed his Leaving Cert the year before he died and was enjoying working in Cork city while he decided what he wanted to do in the future.

Nicole paid tribute to him, saying: "Alex was constantly happy, he was never down or sad, he loved people and he loved life.

"He loved to have a good time and he never worried about a thing.

"I never thought it would happen to us, never did I imagine it would come to my door."

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