A REFORMED drug addict was able to get cocaine delivered faster than pizza.
Paul Coveney, from Farranree, is now clean and regularly attends addiction meetings at Cork Penny Dinners.
The weekly initiative is run by Conor Flynn and Tommy Long, who have rebuilt their lives following addictions.
Paul, who is in recovery, hopes that he can steer youngsters away from destructive substances.
The 26-year-old spent six months in prison for hitting a stranger in 2014, breaking the victim’s jaw. Paul had taken three ecstasy tablets before the attack.
He had previously been using cocaine but moved to ecstasy because it was cheaper.
Now, more than six years on, he is volunteering at Cork Penny Dinners and intends to study psychology.
He hopes that he is a cautionary tale for anyone considering trying cocaine or ecstasy tablets.
Since getting clean, in January, he has been spreading an important message.
“You are not the same person on any drug, even if it’s recreational,” he warned.
“Cocaine tears more families apart than most other drugs.
“It teaches you how to be greedy and selfish. You are essentially a different person.”
He said that when he was using, he found drugs were easier to get than a pizza delivery.
“Sometimes, you wouldn’t even have to make a phone call,” he said. “It would get to you faster than a pizza.
“Drugs will always be around, but taking them was my decision. That’s something I have to take ownership of,” Paul said.
He urged young people not to succumb to temptation, despite the easy access to drugs.
“My dad had passed away and I was going through a grieving process,” he said.
“I was also using my dad’s death as an excuse. My dad’s memory did a lot of heavy lifting for my using.
“I gave up my free will. At the time, I was more than happy to do so. Everything my parents taught me, I had thrown back in their faces.”
Paul was reacquainted with cocaine shortly after leaving prison.
“Prison made me worse,” he said.
“I got handed a job as soon as I got out and spent all my wages on cocaine.
“I was having cocaine for breakfast. It turned me into everything I hated and fuelled my ego. I felt like people were questioning my worth and that’s where the cocaine came in.”
Paul first tried cocaine when he was 16.
“I was bullied in first year and starting smoking fags to fit in. When I didn’t get the respect from that, I moved up to drugs.
"People had to be nice to me because I could get them what they wanted. I remember us having one gram of coke between three of us,” Paul said.
“We were doing cocaine in fields and in houses. For us, it was just an excuse to get together.”
Paul told how a job in construction offered him even greater freedom.
“I started buying cocaine with my first few week’s wages but then realised it was too expensive to sustain,” he said.
“That’s when I moved on to ecstasy tablets.
“They were cheap, so seemed like a good alternative.”
Paul regrets his behaviour while on drugs.
Referring to the incident that landed him in prison, he said: “Drugs isolated me. I lived in the past for so long. I haven’t been able to let it go. Usually, the buzz would make you love, but, on this time, I took it out on someone.
“Six months in jail was enough for me,” Paul said.
His lowest point was an overdose.
“I overdosed once when I was homeless. That was accidental, but the second time I didn’t want to live.”
The Northside man is now determined to live a drug-free life.
“Caitríona [Twomey, of Cork Penny Dinners] gave me the chance to volunteer at Penny Dinners,” he said. “She has saved my life. I know the person I want to be now.
“I want to get into psychology and find out why the mind works the way it does. I never want to see someone stuck in the position I found myself in.”
He advised anyone experiencing problems with drugs to confide in family or friends.
“I thought I couldn’t tell my family what I was going through,” he said.
“I thought I couldn’t trust them, but it was just the cocaine talking.”
For updates on Cork Penny Dinners addiction meetings, check out their Facebook page.
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