YOUTH and community workers are warning young people that drugs known as 'Blues' or 'Blue Bombers' can have devastating side effects.
It is understood that the drugs, which can contain large doses of the tranquilliser diazepam and are being sold in many local estates, have been linked to the suicide of a young man in North Belfast shortly before Christmas.
NEELB Youth Worker Francis Loughlin revealed that some young people take 'Blue Bombers' in multiple doses, but warned of their potentially deadly side effects.
"Currently we are experiencing an unusual number of young people with severe side effects as a result of using them. These side effects are extreme depression, suicidal tendencies, enhanced aggression. Young people are saying that it is just a bad batch that is going around, however we are concerned that whatever has changed in the make-up of these drugs is going to lead to the death of a young person. We want to get a warning out that these Blue Bombers are not safe," he said.
Phil Hamilton, a Development Worker with the Community Support and Development Partnership, said there has been an "influx" of the so-called 'Blues' into the Rathcoole area in recent weeks.
"A number of parents brought this to my attention over the weekend. They are very worried that these drugs seem to be widely available in the area.
"I think we need to bring this to people's attention. Kids aged between 14 and 17, and maybe even younger than that, are getting involved with these drugs. These are very strong tranquillisers and the dosage is far higher than in prescription drugs, so they can have very serious side effects," he warned.
Mr Hamilton said that he has reported parents' concerns to the statutory agencies and local schools.
Meanwhile, in the latest move to increase awareness among young people in Rathcoole about the potential dangers of drug abuse, the Community Support and Development Partnership has arranged for the Matrix Project's Drugs Awareness Bus to visit the estate on Tuesday evening (February 16).
The bus, which will be parked at The Diamond from 6pm - 7.30pm and at Derrycoole Way from 7.30pm - 9pm, will provide help and advice to young people about the potential consequences of misusing drugs.