The anxious father of a 15-year-old boy from Bath has spoken of his fears after his son was rushed to hospital having taken a new legal party drug.
The man, who does not want to be identified, got the call every parent dreads when he was told his son had been found unconscious at a house party and taken to casualty.
He had taken a popular new drug known as Meow Meow, officially called mephedrone, and then drunk a large amount of alcohol.
The substance hit the headlines recently when a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Sussex died after she took it with horse tranquilliser ketamine.
The concerned father said: "The first thing we knew about it was when we got a call at about 6.30am from the hospital. They told us he was in A&E and had been unconscious, but was now conscious and that was when the shock really landed on our doormat.
"My initial reaction was anger, just thinking, 'What the heck have you done?', but after that we started talking through what was going on and it was a complete eye-opener for me."
As he spoke to his son, who has also taken cannabis in the past, he discovered that the drug was cheaply available over the internet and had become popular among young people.
The family have been meeting a social worker and professionals from the drug advisory service Project 28 to help move the teen away from drugs.
The father said: "We have tried to identify the reasons why he needs to take it and I feel fairly comfortable that he isn't going to take it again.
"I feel like I am getting to know him and letting him know that we love and care for him."
He decided to tell his story to warn young people about the dangers of the drug and to warn parents to keep an eye on their children.
He said: "For the youngsters, I want to say, 'Find another way. It is not right that you have to be putting chemicals into your body to feel good'.
"To parents I would say, 'Be aware of changes of habit'. To see your kid lying there on a bed completely out of it was not a good feeling."
The police have said they are aware of mephedrone and would advise people not to take it even though it is legal at the moment.
The drug is often packaged as plant food, which officers say should start alarm bells ringing.
Inspector Paul Bunt, drugs strategy manager for Avon and Somerset Police, said: "If young people are considering anything which actually says on the packet that it is not suitable for human consumption then they should be saying to themselves that this is unsafe.
"All our illegal drugs were at one time legal and it was only when we came to realise how dangerous they were that they became illegal."
A spokesman for NHS Bath and North East Somerset said: "There are concerns about this drug and its associated dangers. The government is currently reviewing legislation in light of this concerns. We advise people not to take mephedrone."
December 9, 2009
This Is Bath