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'Heartbroken' family warn against dangers of prescription drug abuse

By Judith Hill

The family of a west Belfast man who died after taking a lethal mix of prescription drugs have said they hope no other family goes through the same pain.

Aaron Strong was just 18 when he lost his life last April.

At an inquest on Monday his family heard that a mix of tramadol, phenazepam and diazepam was responsible.

“It's heartbreaking for any mother to lose her child," Ann Marie Strong told UTV.

Credit: UTV

His family believe he obtained the drugs on the street - and so the coroner said there is no way of knowing how much tramadol was in the drugs.

Acting state pathologist Jack Crane told the inquest tramadol kills more people in Northern Ireland than any other drug at the moment.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said in his view it should be reclassified as a Class A drug.

“We do have a problem here,” he said, “and we're at the start of it, not the end. We need action now.”

The inquest heard that in the past few years there has been a significant increase in the number of tramadol-related deaths.

Credit: UTV

Aaron's mum said her son had only started taking the drugs two weeks before his death.

His uncle Emmanuel Strong pleaded for anyone considering abusing prescription drugs not to do so as they could lose their lives.

"They're going to die if they don't stop taking this poison," he said.

"My nephew paid the price and I hope and pray no other family has to go through this, it has been hell for us."

In summing up, the coroner said these drugs are destroying young lives.

He said Aaron didn't get the chance to start his life before it was taken and he urged those thinking about abusing prescription drugs to reconsider.

Aaron's family donated his organs which have gone on to save up to nine people's lives.

They want that to be his legacy but are pleading with others tempted to abuse these drugs to stop and think about Aaron.

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