Getting help at Cork's Arbour House is proving vital for recovering addicts

Getting help at Cork's Arbour House is proving vital for recovering addicts
Conor Flynn, Tommy Long and Alan Stanton at the addiction meetings at Cork Penny Dinners centre. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

ACORK man recalled how he would steal petrol during school lunch breaks to feed a drug habit that almost ruined his adult life.

The recovering drug addict, who recently attended Arbour House, at St Finbarr’s hospital, is among those benefiting from addiction meetings at Cork Penny Dinners. Run by recovering drug addicts, Conor Flynn and Tommy Long, the initiatives sees those in recovery gather to offer advice and guidance to one another.

A member of the group who asked not to be named, is using his own story as a warning to parents about the dangers for children dabbling in solvent abuse.

“It started from the age of 10 when I was sniffing anything I could get my hands on from Tippex to nail varnish,” he said. “That might sound crazy but if you are sniffing enough of any substance it can be harmful.”

It wasn’t long before he and his friend’s behaviour took an even more dangerous turn.

“Myself and some friends used to steal petrol from a factory that the staff used to fill up their cars. We were either stealing on our lunch breaks or going on the hop to go sniffing all day.”

He described how solvent abuse slowly turned into an obsession. “The minute I got home from school I would throw my bag down and run out to sniff petrol.” The recovering addict said that solvents weren’t the only high he was chasing.

“I was constantly thinking about where my next high was going to come from. Later, I was doing heroin, cocaine, crack, tablets and magic mushrooms. The magic mushrooms we were picked from fields. I can remember us balling them up and knocking them back with a can of coke. To us it was a laugh.”

He later turned to crime to fund his addiction.

“I have remorse for the awful things I did while addicted to drugs.

I was stealing cars and robbing banks. Then there was a suicide in the family which impacted me and made me even worse.”

He advised those affected by drug addiction to seek out as much support as possible.

“I was trying to do it on my own but it wasn’t happening,” he said. “Anytime I said I’d do it tomorrow I would wake up sick the next day. As soon as that happened any plans I had would go out the window.”

The Cork man added that he has no intention of returning to a life of crime. “Recently, I found a purse on the bus and handed it on. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my partner because it was a reminder of just how far I’d come.”

He said that he is still in the early days of his recovery and hopes to continue attending addiction meeting at Cork Penny Dinners.

To find out more about the Cork Penny Dinners addiction meetings visit their Facebook page.

Information on further supports for drug addiction can be sourced at www.drugs.ie.

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