Alex Ryan (18), of Liscahane in Millstreet, Co Cork died on January 23, 2016, after consuming a synthetic drug of the 2C family called 251 NBOMe at a house party in the city.
His older sister Nicole has visited dozens of schools around the country to speak to students and to raise awareness of the dangers of synthetic drugs.
Nicole says when Alex died she decided to give up her career in engineering to go back to college and study addiction.
“It was a bold move - a hard move being a mature student and going back for a second dose of the college life. I will graduate soon with a 2.1 from UCC in the field of Addiction Studies and I just got pre-accredited as an addiction counsellor by Addiction Counsellors of Ireland."
Nicole, who is still in her 20s, says it was a rigorous process with many up's "and a hell of a lot of downs."
"But I'm so proud of myself for embarking on this new adventure. Thanks to all my friends, family, colleagues, lecturers and classmates. I made it."
Meanwhile, following the inquest of Alex Ryan, Cork City Coroner Philip Comyn wrote to the Department of Education calling for more drugs awareness programmes in schools.
Furthermore at the inquest in 2018 of 16 year old, Michael Cornacchia, who died from an overdose of fentanyl in Cork Mr Comyn again repeated his call for additional resources to be put in to drugs education in post primary schools. He also wrote to the National Association of Secondary Teachers, the Department of Education and to teacher unions about the matter.
Six foot seven inch “gentle giant” Alex was a popular past pupil of Millstreet Community School. His death led the HSE to issue a warning about the dangers of the 2C family of psychedelic drugs.
These drugs can be sold in liquid, powder and tablet form and are consumed for their stimulant and mood altering properties.
After Alex died Nicole and her mum spread his ashes at Ballyheigue Beach in County Kerry where they had such happy holiday memories.
“When we go there we feel very close to him. We are glad that Alex’s death was not wasted and that through (my website) Alex’s Adventures he is very much alive in our minds and hearts.
“I love spreading the word to young people about the dangers of drug taking and the choices they have to make. By doing this it helps ease the grief and is a positive way of celebrating his short life."
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