Former Dundee heroin addict who lost son, 17, to party drug says ‘safe areas’ can save lives

Leanne and her son Jack who died of a drug overdose
Leanne and her son Jack who died of a drug overdose

A recovering heroin addict whose son died as a result of drugs has thrown her weight behind the potential introduction of safe consumption areas.

Leanne Nicolson

Leanne Nicolson, from Fintry, has spoken candidly about her own battles with substance abuse, as well as the devastation of losing her 17-year-old son Jack who died of a heart attack after taking capsules which contained ecstasy back in 2017.

Leanne believes a safe space for users to inject could tackle the rate of drug deaths in the city.

The 43-year-old saw her heroin addiction spiral over an eight-year period and explained how the vice took control of her life.

Leanne’s £25-a-day habit saw her getting the Class A substance injected into her neck by a fellow user.

But she has turned her life around and is now volunteering at the Revive and Restore Cafe (R&R) at Coldside Parish Church in a bid to help others kick the habit.

The organisation, which offers food and medical guidance, celebrated its fifth birthday last week – and Leanne herself praised the service as her own “safe place” as she celebrated being 42 days clean.

She said: “It’s crazy how many people I know locally that seem to be dropping down now – its constant.

“I honestly think safe consumption centres would go a long way to reducing the volume of drug deaths in the city.

“I’ve been found partially clothed in closes after I’ve went over.

“If I were still to be taking heroin I would go to a safe consumption centre.

“No one is telling them they cannot do it but they would at least be able to consume it safely.

“I’ve been 42 days clean now. When I was in the early stages I couldn’t speak to users that were friends as it would have been to difficult.

“Now I’m able to speak to addicts who have congratulated me but they still can’t see themselves there yet.

“I’ve been off drugs and back on them before but this time there is no turning back.

“As far as I’m concerned there still needs to be more support outlets there for people who use drugs.

“People that are battling addiction also need to want to kick the habit. The cafe has made such a huge difference to me and others.

“Recovering addicts will continue to help those who visit but I’m firmly backing safe consumption areas.

“I’ve been given the support and opportunity to make a change and helping prevent a loss of life in a safe consumption area could help spark that change.”

Members of the cafe are comprised of recovering addicts and family members who have experienced addiction first-hand.

Leanne was sharing her experience with fellow cafe users last Friday during the birthday celebrations.

As well as her own story she highlighted the death of so many young people like her son Jack who died after taking a party drug.

Jack died in Carnoustie

Ambulance crews were called to a first-floor property on the corner of Maclagan Road and Barry Road in Carnoustie before Jack was pronounced dead at the scene.

Leanne also paid tribute to tragic Reece Smith who was the same age as her late son when he died, another victim of drugs, earlier this month as she insisted things must change in a bid to stop the death of young people as a result of drugs.

She added: “Part of my battle to stop taking drugs came through the death of my son.

“Jack had taken MDMA and like Reece’s story last week it’s the same case of young men losing their lives far too young.”