Scots mum ‘haunted’ by face of tragic teenage son after fatal street drugs overdose

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A Scots mum has said she will be ‘haunted for the rest of her life’ after watching her son receive CPR following a fatal drugs overdose.

Just 12 hours before he died, Kaden Mcalpine had vowed to beat his street valium and signature pregabalin addiction during a meeting with his family.

But the 18-year-old tragically passed away at his home in Wick, Caithness, on Sunday morning despite the best efforts of his loved ones who battled to revive him.

Mum Lindsay Macdonald told how her oldest son had tried to seek help for his mental health and substance abuse issues in the summer of 2020.

She claims he was repeatedly fobbed off and ended up initially getting himself into trouble with the police so he could be sent to HMYOI Polmont in August of that year.



The 18-year-old managed to stay substance free for almost two years before a relapse
The 18-year-old managed to stay substance free for almost two years before a relapse

After spending less than three weeks behind bars, Kaden returned home on a drug treatment and testing order which saw him stay substance free for 18 months.

But after a dip in his mental health over the festive period, the apprentice mechanic tragically relapsed before an accidental overdose two weeks ago, which alerted his family that his drug use had restarted.

Mum-of-six Lindsay decided to speak out about Kaden’s ordeal in a bid to save another mother experiencing the same heartache.

She said: “I never thought we’d lose him like this.

“Up in Caithness there’s been a lot of drug deaths over the last couple of years with young people. Kaden has lost friends and family to this as well. It’s one of the reasons he got clean.

“Things got quite bad over 2020 when his addiction really took hold. He was getting into a lot of trouble with the police and things like that.

“He was always into chemical valium and signature pregabalin which he was getting off the dark web. It’s stronger than what the doctor gives you.



Kaden, second from left, leaves behind five younger siblings
Kaden, second from left, leaves behind five younger siblings

“He tried to get help at the start of summer but the drugs team was telling him they couldn’t help him until he got his mental health sorted out.

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“But then the mental health team was then telling him they couldn’t help him until he got his drug issue sorted out. It was a vicious circle.

“It actually took him going to Polmont young offenders to get the help that he needed which is heartbreaking.

“He was trying to get himself sent to jail because he knew if he carried on, he was going to end up in serious trouble or dead.

“He was only in for 18 days but he did have a hard time there and because of the lockdown, we couldn’t really go down to see him.

“He’d never been away from me for that long before and it was hard on everybody. But when he came out he was a whole new person. It really worked. He was so determined.

“For 18 months, I have stayed clean. I swore he would never go back to that lifestyle.

“He’d actually requested to be put on a drug treatment and testing order to help him to stay clean and he was taken off that early because he was doing so well.”



Lindsay Macdonald with Kaden as a newborn
Lindsay Macdonald with Kaden as a newborn

Kaden, who worked as an apprentice mechanic with Highland Council, managed to get his life back on track and moved out of the family home with pet dog Luna.

But he began to struggle with his mental health over the festive period and was signed off work sick in December.

Lindsay, 39, began to suspect that Kaden may have relapsed with her worst fears confirmed two weeks ago after he accidentally overdosed.

In a crisis meeting with the family on Saturday, the teenager vowed to get back on track and made plans with his aunty to help get him back to work.

But just hours later, his mum had a gut feeling that something was wrong when she was unable to get hold of them for their daily phone calls.

She explained: “It was only 11 days before he died that we found out that he had relapsed.

“On Saturday, Kaden spoke to all his family and said he wanted to get rid of all his tablets and he wanted to get back to his work.

“He’d made plans with his aunty to try to sort him going back to work. It was like he turned a corner and he had a plan. In his own words, he didn’t want to be ‘a boom’.

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“I wanted to do better. But 12 hours later, he was gone.

“That morning, I’d woken up and I just felt something wasn’t right. I called him and two of his friends from him continuously but I did not get an answer.

“I told my husband I’d wait an hour and then I’d go down to his house. I called again about 45 minutes later and someone answered and said he was unresponsive.

“I was telling them to phone an ambulance and to feel for a pulse. When we got there, I got two feet in the door and it was obvious that he was gone.

“I’d called my sister-in-law and my mum by that point and my husband had cleared his mouth and had got him down onto the floor.

“My two brothers came running in and started performing CPR until the ambulance got there but he was already gone. His face of him will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Lindsay is calling for better substance abuse and mental health support in the rural community as well as better availability of naloxone – a drug that reverses the effects of opioids.

She added: “When we did drug awareness training, they explained that when addicts first relapse, they are more likely to overdose and die because they don’t have the same tolerance.

“I think naloxone should be given out more freely because it can save lives. Right now, I couldn’t tell you one place in Wick that I could run to get it if needed.

“There’s also nothing up here for young ones who are struggling with their mental health and addiction. It’s a joke and more needs to be done.

“We also find that the police up here are more interested in chasing little boys for a bit of cannabis than the people that are actually selling these tablets that are killing kids.

“If Kaden’s story saves one other mother from going through this, he won’t have died in vain. Something good needs to come out of this.”

The Daily Record has carried out a long-running campaign calling for the decriminalization of drug users in Scotland while cracking down on the dealers.

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And while the latest figures show an eight per cent reduction in the number of people dying from substance abuse in the last year, more still needs to be done.

Scottish Government Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said: “I was deeply sorry to hear of Kaden’s death and I would like to pass on my condolences to his mother and family directly.

“The damage caused by drug use is a tragedy and it has a far reaching impact on families and communities across Scotland.

“Kaden’s experience highlights the tragic consequences of the barriers people who experience mental health and alcohol and drug problems often face to access the services that they need.

“It is important that lessons are learned and Scottish Government are undertaking a rapid review of mental health and substance use services, to be published in Autumn this year.

“The report will bring together recommendations for how services can work together to better support people with mental health and substance use problems.

“This will support the delivery of the MAT Standards, which make it clear that people must be able to receive support on the day they ask for it.

“We have also brought together an expert working group to develop standards specifically for young people, as we know that young people at risk need specialized support.”

Inspector Alasdair Goskirk of Wick police station said: “We are committed to identify those involved in the supply of drugs within our local communities and will continue to use every tool and tactic at our disposal to disrupt the activities of those involved in serious organized crime.

“We rely on information from members of the public to disrupt these criminals and reduce the availability of illicit drugs in our areas.

“If you have any information or concerns surrounding drugs in your area, please contact Police Scotland on 101 or report this anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

A spokesperson for NHS Highland added: “Our condolences are with the family at this difficult time.”

A fundraiser has been launched to help cover the cost of Kaden’s funeral. To donate, please click here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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