'My son died of an addiction to drugs bought online'
A MOTHER has warned others about the dangers of buying drugs online after her son died from an addiction to unprescribed medication.
Oliver Cohen of Walsingham Close, Hatfield, suffered from major heart complications, which eventually led to his death on September 22 last year, after repeatedly ordering vitamins and steroids - to which he became addicted - over the internet.
An inquest into the 30-year-old's death last week concluded that consumption of illegal supplements bought online over a period of five years together with a long-standing drug habit had caused extensive damage to his heart.
His mother, Janet Koganovitch, who witnessed Oliver's spiralling addiction to the deadly supplements feeling almost powerless to prevent his self-destruction, has since spoken exclusively to the Review about the dangers of using the internet as a supermarket to buy unprescribed medication.
She said Oliver, who suffered with ADHD, had been ordering a herbal supplement called Kratom - an opium substitute banned in the UK but widely used overseas as a natural stimulant - from an online company for the past two years to help ease his hyperactive personality.
"He was quite hyper and found it difficult to concentrate on his work," she said. "At the time he was working on his business, he was very into his music - he wanted to become a musician but he couldn't focus enough. He felt this (Kratom) was helping him in the beginning, it was only over time that he became addicted to it.
Janet's persistent warnings about the risks of buying drugs from online sources failed to convince Oliver, who insisted the medication was helping him.
At the time Oliver, who had developed a complex about his slight frame, was also taking steroids purchased from an online company to bulk up.
"He convinced me that if it's taken occasionally it wouldn't do any harm," she said.
"I always used to say to him 'be careful you don't know what you're getting online - go to the doctor if you need help'.
"He used to say to me 'stop worrying mum, they're harmless, they're not going to do anything, it's helping me with my work and I can't work without it'.
"He didn't think anything would happen to him - he thought he knew best."
Janet insists traffic to websites selling such substances is increasing as thrill seekers look to experiment with new ways of getting a high.
"Teens are looking for something new, ecstacy and other similar drugs aren't enough anymore - they're looking for something else now.
"Oliver was looking for new things all the time"
A near death experience following an overdose even failed to wheen Oliver off the drugs.
Janet said: "He said to me after that 'this is very selfish, it's terrible what I'm doing.' I stressed to him how valuable life is and he promised me many times that he would stop."
But his survival, rather than detering Oliver, gave him an incentive to continue using.
Oliver, a gifted musician, eventually died from heart failure - prompted by his drug abuse - at the QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City just one month after celebrating his 30th birthday.
Janet concluded: "It's more dangerous buying something online than buying anywhere else because you don't know what you're getting or what's in it.
"Parents need to talk as much as possible to their kids to make them aware of the dangers."
Recording a verdict of misadventure at the inquest last Wednesday, coroner Edward Thomas also pointed out the dangers of ordering unprescribed medication over the internet. He said: "It's so important that what people take is properly prescribed - the implications of not doing this can be very serious."
By Alexandra Barham
February 11, 2009
St Albans & Harpenden Review