AN illegal consignment of potentially lethal prescription drugs has been handed into local community activists after being posted to the former home of "a vulnerable adult" in West Belfast.

The package, which was sent via Royal Mail, contained 270 capsules of epilepsy medication Pregabalin, known as 'buds', and 150 tablets of the short-acting tranquilliser Alprazolam/Lyrica, a benzodiazepine commonly used to treat anxiety.

Pregabalin capsules and Aprazolam tablets that were addressed to a vulnerable local man

Pregabalin capsules and Aprazolam tablets that were addressed to a vulnerable local man

Both medications were listed in a 2018 report by the West Belfast Drugs Panel that was was formed following a spate of local drugs deaths.

The drugs were reportedly handed over to IRSP representatives in the Andersonstown area on Wednesday and have been correctly disposed of through a local pharmacy. 

IRSP spokesman Gerard Foster believes drug dealers may have ordered the package to the property in the hope of claiming it from the one-time tenant, who he describes as "a vulnerable man" who is no longer at the address.

He said the current owner of the property "wants it known publicly that whoever is expecting this package is not getting it back."

"We know the dangers that buds are causing," Mr Foster commented. 

"Death is the potential. We've seen what buds do to young people, especially with alcohol in them. They're highly addictive and they're a gateway to heroin. All of these prescription drugs can be a gateway to the hardest drugs, the use of which is on the rise massively.

"These people obviously felt safe sending them to a vulnerable person. The only thing they're thinking of doing is coming to him and saying 'give us our drugs'."

In 2020, a report on local addiction services by the Northern Audit Office found that drugs deaths linked to Pregabalin had increased by 980 per cent in just four years.