I truly believe that if drug policies here in Ireland were different my only brother would be alive today.
My name is Nicole Ryan and last year I lost my younger brother, Alex, to the synthetic drug known as N-Bombe. He was just 18 when he passed. He and some others bought a drug they believed to be a less potent synthetic called 2-CP and it was sold to them as 2-CP. Unfortunately it ended up being the lethal and extremely potent drug known as 2-5I or N-Bombe. My brother had suffered a cardiac arrest and was brought to the hospital. He never regained consciousness and 4 days later he was pronounced clinically brain dead.
We decided to make him an organ donor and in the end he saved 4 lives by donating his 2 kidney, his liver and his heart. When I lost my brother I lost everything and it truly opened my eyes to what is wrong with our drug policies and how we treat and stigmatise addiction.
Nicole and her brother, Alex
I needed a way to cope and so 2 months after Alex passed I started my own campaign here in Ireland called Alex’s Adventure of a Lifetime. Nobody was doing it here and nobody was willing to educate our youth. I gave up my whole future and my dreams of becoming a Marine and Plant Engineer after studying in college for years. I’ve put my entire life on hold. I take days off work voluntarily and travel to different schools and share Alex’s story, give demonstrations and educate them about drugs and especially Synthetic drugs.
The difference between me and perhaps a guard or a person providing drugs education is that I am only 24 years old and I can truly connect with the youth. They see that Alex was a real person just like them. They see me standing there baring my all and know that I could be their sibling, their friend or their family. They see how easy it is to make one decision and how it can cost you your life and have such a ripple effect on the lives of others. I always say if I can change one persons mind it’s enough and in the past year I believe that I’ve changed more than one.
I give them all the information that I can to help them make an informed decision because young people are very smart and should not be patronised. However I recognise the limits of what information I can provide. How can we give accurate drug education whilst drugs are illegal when we don’t know what the substances are – their strength or their purity? That’s why I think they should be legally regulated so that if people do take them it will be safer.
Alex was a great guy standing at 6’7” who was just beginning at life, who loved his family and his friends, who had everything ahead of him and everything to live for and with one decision due to bad policies, he lost his life. He was kind, loved life and had the biggest heart the world had ever seen. He was and always will be my brother, and he could be anybody’s child.
You can follow more of my journey on Facebook : Alex’s Adventure of a Lifetime”