Timaru woman Sue Eade fears she will bury one of her sons.
That fear comes from seeing what legal highs have done to them and to her family. And now she wants to set up a support group to help other families affected by the drugs.
Her sons, aged 15 and 20, began using the legal high K2 last year. Since then she has seen the elder lose his dairy farm job as he was no longer reliable. This week she got the call to collect the 15-year-old from school as he was high on the legal drug.
She does not blame the employer or the school for the steps they took. She does blame the storeowners selling the synthetic cannabis.
"I bet they are not using it themselves or letting their children use it," she says of the store owners.
"They are hypocrites. They have no idea what it is doing. It does not matter whether it is legal or not.
"It is wrecking families," she said, explaining how her sons had taken items from the house to get cash to buy the highs.
"You go to get something and it is gone. I've had to put a lock on my (bedroom) door."
Last month the police called. The 15-year-old had been found comatose in Marchwiel Park.
The "mate" he had been smoking K2 with had left him there. Someone else found him and called the police. He was taken to hospital.
Medical staff at the hospital made it clear they were seeing similar cases "on a daily basis".
"He couldn't even walk. It took a nurse, my friend, and me, to get him into my vehicle."
Miss Eade spent the night checking him every hour, making sure he was in the recovery position in case he vomited and choked to death.
At least she knew where he was that night.
And this was a boy who was a top student in his first two years at high school. Earlier this year his science teacher told Miss Eade her son was in the top 1 per cent of students in that subject.
As of last Monday he is no longer welcome at school. He will not be allowed back until he tests clean. But he is not interested.
Attempts to reason with her sons have failed.
She has a very personal reason for fearing for her boys. Miss Eade understands the legal highs can cause kidney damage. She has hereditary kidney disease.
"I go through agony every day," she says of her condition, but even seeing their mother in such a state has not been enough to dissuade her boys from using.
"I just hope one of them does not end up in a box."
The legal highs have even affected her 11-year-old daughter. She used to love her big brothers. Now she hates them because of what they have done and the way they act. "It just tears you apart."
What the future holds for her sons, for her family, she does not know. But she does hope she can support other families who find themselves in similar situations. She has posted a link on the Facebook page Stop Legal Highs, inviting others to make contact.
Only those living through the hell the legal highs can cause can really understand, she says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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