Published Thursday, 28 August 2014
Kealan Burke died a week after turning 22 in February 2009, a year after he took the heroin substitute.
The second year computers student at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, ended up needing round the clock care in a facility.
His mother Teresa said: "He was doubly incontinent; a quadriplegic; he couldn't swallow; couldn't hear and he couldn't see. We don't think he could feel anything either.
"He was in a vegetative state. It was awful."
Kealan first experimented with drugs aged 17, when he started smoking cannabis.
He received a police caution after he was caught buying ecstasy and by 21 he was addicted to prescription drugs including diazepam.
Teresa and a number of other families bereaved through drugs from both sides of the border will address a public meeting of Derry Policing and Community Partnership on Thursday evening.
She hopes the hard-hitting pictures of her son will prevent others from turning to drugs.
"I want to show the reality of it," said Mrs Burke.
"Drugs might make you feel good for a short time, or even a long time, but they can kill you and leave devastated families behind.
"It helps me enormously to know that Kealan's life has been for a reason and that reason is to help someone else. I would like to think that somebody out there will get the message and not take drugs.
"We were just an ordinary family. We live in the middle of the country. It is three miles to the nearest shop. Drugs were not part of our being or what we knew at all."
Karen Vandersypen from Letterkenny, Co Donegal, has called for all legal highs to be banned after he son died from a massive heart attack after smoking synthetic cannabis last October.
A coroner at a recent inquest into 20 deaths linked to unregulated stimulants compared the problem to a serial killer on the loose.
© UTV News