Drug users' 'lethal' diet of 'Special K' horse tranquilliser

Published: 13 Sep 2012 14:300 comments

DRUG users here are using horse tranquilliser to get high, it has emerged.

Bottles of horse tranquilliser, Ketamine.

Bottles of horse tranquilliser, Ketamine.

The severity of the illegal drug problem in Fermanagh is highlighted further this week with the revelation that Ketamine, a powerful anaesthetic used in human and horse surgery, is becoming popular among drug users.

'Special K' which can be snorted, injected, swallowed and smoked can cause respiratory failure.

Police Inspector Roy Robinson has confirmed that his officers have seized small quantities of the drug during searches in the county and warns: "Horse tranquilliser is lethal to humans and has fatal consequences."

He added: "It is hard to know why anybody would want to consume something that is for a horse; if you just imagine what this does to a horse and here you have people taking it, it sends a shudder through me."

Inspector Robinson says police want to put a stop to people experimenting with this type of drug.

"They really are playing with fire. To think people are using stuff that puts a horse to sleep. No human being should be using anything like this," he said.

And while Inspector Robinson stops short of describing the drug situation here as an epidemic, he maintains that partner agencies such as the health service must get involved to help out police.

"We don't have a drugs clinic in Fermanagh like they have in Ballymena, and it's hard to get a handle on the scale of it. I think all agencies must get involved and information must be passed on to the police because if we can reduce this then we can reduce it overall," he said.

But speaking to The Impartial Reporter this week, Health Minister Edwin Poots said the PSNI and the Department of Justice must act.

"Drugs are a scourge on our society and unfortunately there are people who are profiting from them. They will continue to attempt to push their drugs and the police and the Department of Justice need to do all that they can to ensure their availability is reduced as far as possible."

Mr. Poots added: "Horse tranquilliser is extremely dangerous and the side-effects are very, very bad. It is quite remarkable the length drug dealers will go to to profit at other people's expense. But it stands to sense that tranquilliser for a horse is something that humans should not be taking into their body. There are lots of other stuff out there that is extremely dangerous. There are people who think taking cannabis is alright, but it is not alright - it causes damage to the brain. The fact people are using horse tranquilliser in Fermanagh does not surprise me, it is something that is a problem in areas such as Belfast too."

Dr. Scott Payne, Consultant Psychiatrist in Addictions with the Western Social Care and Health Trust has said at least one person has received treatment for taking Ketamine in this area.

He warns that users can become "very dependent" on the drug.

"It can have chronic effect on the bladder and cause all sorts of long-term problems that can come on quite easily. It is worrying when we see cases like this," he said.

After two - unrelated - deaths from suspected drugs overdoses last month the police have pledged to tackle the problem in Fermanagh and have had a number of successful finds in recent weeks.

Last Friday officers in Enniskillen seized a quantity of cannabis resin after they stopped a van in the Kilmacormick Avenue area of the town. Two males aged 18 and 19 were arrested. They were interviewed and subsequently released on police bail pending further enquiries and a detailed analysis of the drugs.

Inspector Robinson says police are "continually carrying out operations across the county", but declined to provide any additional information.

"It is an ongoing quest all of the time; we do have continual running operations, but I can't really comment further on that."

The PSNI issued a statement at the weekend saying they were determined to eradicate the drug problem and appealed for support from the local community.

"The key to reducing the availability of drugs on our streets is information. The Enniskillen public are encouraged 'not to turn a blind eye' to the sale and supply of illegal drugs in our towns and villages. Local police are dedicated towards tackling the issue of drugs. This will remain a policing priority and we want to reassure the public that we will act upon any information received," said a spokesperson.

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