A FORMER chef who nearly died after taking a legal high drug has vowed to turn his life around to compensate for the “the carnage and damage” he caused his family.

Gareth Street, 33, has embarked on a fitness regime and healthy diet after doctors saved his life.

He is warning anyone thinking of using legal highs they are dicing with death.

Mr Street has no memory of being rushed to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, struggling to breath and with his heart failing after taking the cocaine substitute Super Poke in September.

“It was the first time I’d taken it and it nearly took my life from me,” said Mr Street, of Taunton.

“I lost 16 days of my life – I have no recollection of anything and was in an induced coma I was so ill.

“These things are putting people in hospital. I’ve learned the hard way, but my message is, ‘Don’t touch this stuff’.

“I have underlying heart issues that could come back any time and I’ll be taking tablets for the rest of my life.”

Ironically, Mr Sweet turned to legal highs after years of drug and alcohol abuse.

“I’d tried everything – heroin, cocaine, the lot – and made the effort to get away from that by turning to this legal stuff thinking it would be better than anything else,” he said. “It was probably worse.

“In hospital I was so weak I couldn’t even lift a glass of water and a balloon pump had to be fitted to my heart to keep me alive.

“My family were warned I could die and told to say their goodbyes.”

Mr Street discharged himself and started walking, which was initially painful, and has progressed to a programme of exercise, while eating healthily and shunning alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

“I’m turning my life around,” he added.

“I realised what I’d put my dad and sister through – it wasn’t just me I was doing it to, it was the people I care about.

“It caused them terrible trauma and made me see the carnage and damage I’ve caused them.

“Thanks to the fantastic care I received at Musgrove, I’m still here.

“And if telling my story puts just one person off legal highs, it’s worth it.”