A CORK man has said that he is refusing to become yet another victim of Cork’s heroin epidemic following a series of prison sentences for minor crimes.
Dean Seery from Gurranabraher said he has served prison time for everything from theft to possession of a weapon while under the influence. Now 16 weeks clean, he is keen to educate people on the struggles facing drug addicts that often lead to crime.
The 25-year-old, who is homeless but currently staying with a friend, is the focus of a new radio documentary by Jenna Heaphy airing on Life FM this week about Cork’s homeless crisis.
Jenna Heaphy is the producer and journalist behind the radio programme titled Please Don’t Pass Me By, which features a number of homeless people from Cork.
As well as working on Christian radio station Life FM, the Cork woman also advocates for those affected by homelessness and addiction.
Speaking to The Echo, Dean revealed why he decided to take part in the project.
“I was smoking fags when I was seven before moving on to weed at 11,” he said.
“Later on, I got into the hard drugs like crack cocaine and heroin. I have been in and out of prison for minor offences for the last seven years. The crimes I committed were to get the drugs so I could keep myself from being sick.”
He admitted it was difficult to cope on the outside.
“I feel like prison made me worse. The first thing I always did when I came out was go looking for drugs again. The addiction took over but, just like with any crime, you always pay for the consequences.
“Some people are going into prison because they can’t cope on the outside. You see people who are only out a few days who do something to get back in again.”
He recalled the lowest point of his addiction.
“What affected me most was when I lost a friend to drugs who had previously saved my life. He called an ambulance for me when I overdosed.
“I still can’t remember any of that time, but when I left hospital, my friends told me exactly what had happened. Three days after saving my life, I found out he was in a coma from an overdose.”
He said one of the hardest parts of being homeless was the verbal abuse he received on the streets.
“I often sat down with a cup to beg, because it was something I had to do. There were people who passed that called me a junkie and a smackhead. It wasn’t a nice feeling. I’d like to see people taking the time to talk to a homeless person instead of judging them.”
Nonetheless, Dean said there was also a sense of community.
“I saw how people in the homeless community look out for one another. You have to be in another person’s shoes to understand what they are going through.”
Dean, who is now volunteering with Life FM, puts much of his recovery down to faith.
“I don’t think that anyone can ever wake up one day and, all of a sudden, be able to go cold turkey. I definitely think God has something to do with it.”
The Cork man said he feels that homelessness has now become normalised, saying: “So many people are on the streets now that it’s become normal. They didn’t come into the world wanting to be homeless and addicted to drugs.”
Nevertheless, he emphasised that addiction is a constant battle.
“I had to pull myself away from old friends. When I see them on the streets I’ll always salute them, but I have to make sure I don’t get pulled back in and return to the life I had before.
“I’m in contact with mates I would have used with who are clean today. I want to be able to move on with my life.
“I haven’t told many people about the radio programme, but I hope that the people who listen to it can get a better understanding of homelessness.”
He spoke about his hopes for the future.
“I want to be able to move on with my life and have a job or a course,” he said.
“My main focus now is staying at the level I am at by keeping away from drugs.”
The aim of the radio programme is to inform and educate listeners about the various struggles facing the homeless community every day.
Jenna also interviewed members of the general public to give an insight into opinions on the issue for the show.
“I wanted the programme to show how much harder things became for homeless people who no longer had access to facilities like toilets and day services they would have had before.
“I’d also like for people to not see the addict and instead see the broken little boy or girl who suffered a trauma that brought them to where they are today.”
Organisations such as The Simon Community and non-profit outreach groups also feature in the programme.
Readers can tune into 93.1 LifeFM locally or listen online at www.lifefm.ie for the two-part series, which will be aired at the following times:
- Part 1: Today between 3pm and 4pm;
- Part 2: Thursday June 24, between 3pm and 4pm.
The programmes will be repeated on 93.1 LifeFM on Saturday, June 19 from 5pm.