How ‘zombie drug’ cost me nine years of my life


WITH sensational reports of a “zombie outbreak” sweeping the UK, due to an epidemic of addiction to the drug “spice”, one former Fermanagh addict has spoken out in the hope of helping others

John, whose name we have changed to protect his identity, first tried legal highs, including spice, when he was around 14-years-old and struggled with addiction to the drug for nine years. Now 25-years-old, and “clean” for almost a year-and-a-half, John has set up a Facebook page, “legalhighhelp” in the hope others can learn from his journey. 
John told the Herald when he first tried legal highs “they weren’t the epidemic they are today,” and said the fact they were then still legal, having only been criminalised in recent times, played a big role in why he first started taking the drugs. 
“It really was as simple as believing legal equals good, and illegal equals bad, which I believe is very worrying and something I hope kids these days are being better educated on.”
John said the effects of the then legal drugs were a lot stronger than alcohol or cannabis, which he’d dabbled in as a curious teen. 
“The effects are like nothing I’ve ever had before,” he said. “It will make you over-think to a crazy extent, you will play out tens or hundreds of scenarios in your head a day that more than likely will never happen.
“It may also cause rapid use of body fluids leading to dehydration and this is why I believe you hear about people hallucinating as you can hallucinate from dehydration without the use of drugs.”
Explaining he believed people developed addictions for various reasons, John said he couldn’t pin point exactly when he realised he had a problem.
“I kept it secret from basically everyone, anybody in my immediate circle of friends and family only knew what I wanted them to know, the same as work,” he said. 
“The over-thinking caused you to be very protective over your privacy and what people knew. I have had several jobs throughout my addiction and I’m sure my previous employers would be shocked to find out as I believe I was very good at controlling what people knew about me.”
John, who also suffered from depression, said he believed there wasn’t enough mental health support, in particular, for those who wanted to free themselves from drug addition. 
“There is a physical struggle to coming of these drugs but I believe as with most drugs your biggest battle is mentally,” he explained, adding he wished he had been able to speak to someone who had been through it before whenever he was coming off the drugs, just so they could assure him things would be OK and he’d get back to living a normal life. 
“The problem with legal highs is they are only in the spotlight in the last four or five years, and mostly in the last two or three, which makes it difficult for people to find examples of people who have survived and moved on to a better life, like you would with other drugs.
“So I basically had to help myself as I knew there was very little to no support,” John said, adding he was lucky to have group of close friends who helped him through.
Now John wants to use his own experience to help others.
“I have set up the Facebook page to help other people who are in a extremely dark place which I once was,” he said. 
“It’s very hard to understand unless you been in it, like most metal illnesses. I want to be that person that I needed when I was in the dark places, I want to be the one that can say ‘it will be OK you can get through this and get back to a normal life.’
John has urged anyone reading this story, whether they are using legal highs or are concerned for a loved one, to visit his page on Facebook. 

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