Crossing The Line: The Heavy Cost Of Taking Cocaine - Independent.İe

Crossing The Line: The Heavy Cost Of Taking Cocaine - Independent.İe

Crossing the line: The heavy cost of taking cocaine - Independent.ie

Crossing the line: The heavy cost of taking cocaine

25.1.2020

Crossing the line: The heavy cost of taking cocaine

Michael Guerin has worked as an addiction counsellor for 15 years and he knows more than most about the devastating consequences of a dependence on cocaine.

Create an account "People can get dependent on cocaine quickly," says addiction counsellor Michael Guerin "It's ordinary people," he says,"like you or I. Many of them are really young - they would first have encountered cocaine at school and they're addicted while still in their teens. It's something that affects all social strata now, and price doesn't seem to be a factor." Data shows that Ireland is one of the most expensive places in the world in which to buy cocaine. A gram costs an average of €80. And this country is also close to the top of the league table when it comes to the amount ingested in a single session. This statistic is especially worrying for Guerin. "People can get dependent on cocaine quickly," he says."They consider it to be something recreational but it can easily become a habit that costs them a lot of money and plays havoc with their health." Statistics demonstrate the long tentacles of cocaine. One in six of all people in Ireland receiving treatment for drug addiction are addicted to cocaine. Eight out of 10 cocaine users entering treatment are men, and the mean age of first use is 20. Cardiac problems and brain injuries are two of the side effects. RTÉ broadcaster Ryan died from a heart attack in 2010, while model French's death was caused by cerebral hypoxia - a shortage of oxygen to the brain. But there's also the psychiatric impact, Guerin says."Cocaine can have such a destructive impact - and it doesn't just play havoc with the user, but with the lives of their families too." Cocaine, which first made an impact in Ireland in the 1970s, is in the news once again as a result of the horrific murder and dismemberment of 17-year-old Drogheda schoolboy Keane Mulready-Woods last week. He had been involved in a gang that distributed cocaine and other drugs, and the manner of his demise was akin to Narcos-style killings in Mexico. For addiction therapists like Guerin, there is a direct link between cocaine consumption and the horrors perpetrated by gangland Ireland. "There's no question about it. There's huge money to be made because there's a market there. It's a drug that has become normalised now, but few people that take it make the link with the criminal gangs." Cuan Mhuire was established by Eileen Fitzgerald - better known as Sr Consilio of the Sisters of Mercy - in Athy, Co Kildare in 1966 and operates a number of treatment centres throughout the country. The Bruree facility has beds for six adult males - and a waiting list exceeding 300. "There's a huge need out there," Guerin says."We're doing our best, but sometimes it feels as though we're just skimming the surface." Twenty-one-year-old Co Cork native John - not his real name - spent five months at Cuan Mhuire under the care of Guerin and his colleagues. "I went in when I was 19 and had my 20th birthday there," he says."Without them, I don't know where I'd be now or if I'd still be alive. I thought about killing myself many, many times but I didn't have the nerve to go through with it." School playground John first tried cocaine when he was just 15. He had grown up in a household where his father had a dependency on alcohol and he himself and started drinking at 12. He was 14 when he was offered speed in the school playground and he had just turned 15 when cocaine came into his life. "I suppose I have an addictive, risk-taking personality," he says."You try something thinking you can handle it and the next thing you want it all the time." Cocaine played havoc with his education, and he left school at 16."You'd live for the highs, but the come-downs would be the worst," he says. In order to feed his habit, he started dealing the drug - but he ended up owing thousands. "It was a miserable life," he says."I was afraid that I would either be knifed to death or would knife someone myself." Thanks to the cocaine, his days were spent in a fog of bravado and paranoia and he took to carrying a knife with him everywhere."I'd walk around with my hoodie up and a blade in my pocket. I liked it if people were afraid of me." Realisation that he was an addict came late. "It was only when I was with a friend and we were sitting on this filthy floor with the curtains closed and we were doing drugs that the word came up. He said, 'I suppose we're addicts'. I hadn't even thought about it - that's one of the things that coke does: it stops you from thinking in a way that makes sense." He wasn't to know it at the time, but he was one of the lucky ones to be admitted to Cuan Mhuire."They won't take you while coke is in your system and it can take two weeks to be completely clear of it. That was torture. I drank cans to try to manage." Going cold turkey at the treatment centre was difficult too, but John made it."I'm so grateful to have my life back," he says."I'd say to anyone thinking of trying it [cocaine] not to. The temporary high isn't worth it, especially if you're someone with an addictive personality." He has a job now - in Cork city - and he is thankful to have a second shot at life. "I came so close to ending it all. Life didn't seem worth living. The sad thing is that there were others who were in my position and they did end their lives." Domestic violence Broken lives thanks to cocaine are part of Sandra McAleer's world too. The Dublin-based family law barrister says the drug has become a primary reason for an increase in domestic violence, unprovoked assaults and family debt. "I spend my days - Monday to Friday - at Dolphin House [the family law court in Dublin's Temple Bar] and every second case features cocaine," she says."I've seen women who are being barred from the family home because of their abuse of cocaine - we wouldn't have seen that years ago. "I've had a case where a 13-year-old girl was taking cocaine. There was a case where a guy who had put €40,000 of coke up his nose was proudly telling the court that as a justification why he hadn't paid maintenance for his six children - I did my best to get him into prison, but he wasn't jailed in the end." McAleer says there has been a noticeable uptake in the number of cases involving cocaine over the past year or so. "There seems to be more money around," she says,"and it's also become so easy to get now. And it's become normalised. You'd have people who would never have touched it in the past doing it every weekend now. "You could easily go into a bar and spend €100 on drink, but people are finding they're getting a hit [of cocaine] for €50 and they're thinking they're great. They're not getting hangovers or sick in the toilet. But the idea that it's just a recreational thing that you can casually do often doesn't become the case. "I've had women [clients] where I've said, it's either the cocaine or the children and nine times out of 10 they cannot get off the stuff and they lose custody of their children. It's very sad, but it's happening." And it's happening everywhere. A study last year from Philip White, forensic science lecturer at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, showed that there were traces of cocaine found on every single banknote he tested in the West of Ireland. Just pick up the regional newspapers to see how frequently cocaine is mentioned in court proceedings. The Western People said,"cocaine use in Mayo was threatening to spiral out of control" while the Donegal Democrat lamented the"rampant" drug problem in Letterkenny. Earlier this month, at Bandon District Court, west Cork, Judge James McNulty convicted five young people of having cocaine in their possession at a rugby event last year. He said he was"astounded" by the details of the offending, which he said had taken place in broad daylight, across the later afternoon and into the early evening -"openly, shamelessly and in public" by those"who have placed their career and travel prospects at risk". It's a sentiment shared by a publican who runs a number of popular bars in the midlands. "What really stuns me about cocaine use now is how brazen people are," he says."A decade ago, you might suspect someone was doing it but they'd really be careful not to get caught. Now, it's virtually out in the open. You find things like rolled up Kit-Kat foil in the toilets or our security people would see a couple of lads going into the toilet together and not come out for 10 minutes. "One of the things that's apparent is the increased violence. Of course, you'd always have to be mindful of something happening after a few drinks, but this is serious stuff - people glassing each other on the street, and just being hyper-aggressive." Alarms The rise of cocaine-fuelled violence is something that alarms Dr Chris Luke, consultant in emergency medicine and adjunct senior lecturer in public health at University College Cork. "The bottom line is cocaine is almost synonymous with grotesque violence, the sort of violence you see in movies and TV series like Narcos," he told the Irish Examiner this week. And he noted that cocaine can have horrifying consequences when taken by sociopaths or psychopaths. "Its most obvious and familiar effect is it gives people this intense euphoria, what they call the Master of the Universe syndrome. The problem is that in the wrong context with the wrong human being you end up with perhaps a sociopathic or psychopathic mindset with the Master of the Universe effect. A certain number of people become grotesquely violent. I think that is what is fuelling the barbarity we're seeing now." The killing of Keane Mulready-Woods has given people pause for thought, says Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim, Marc MacSharry. "The penny is dropping that if you go out and do a line of cocaine you're helping to line the pockets of the drug barons and you're inadvertently contributing to gangland violence." MacSharry has long called for an advertising campaign to highlight the connection between so-called recreational cocaine use and the increasingly violent actions of the drug gangs keen to control a market worth hundreds of millions in Ireland alone. "We need to make people really stop and think about what they're doing," he says."Not just in relation to the potential detrimental health consequences to themselves, but to all of those caught up in the drugs trade." He says he can see the impact of cocaine in his hometown of Sligo and believes that the days where it was seen as the party drug of choice for affluent people in Dublin have long gone. "What's happened to Drogheda [the sense of lawlessness as a result of the cocaine trade] could happen to other towns around the country. We need to be vigilant." For Guerin, the hope is that - with focused education - young people will avoid the temptation."It's a societal thing," he says,"you've got a cohort that feel disenchanted and are drawn to risky behaviour. And if it's cocaine that they start on, the outcomes can be terrible." Indo Review Read more: Independent.ie

A cop on the beat ain't going to scare any of these thugs, young ones at that. No fear whatsoever! Our country has turned into a criminals paradise no matter what the crime. All u have 2 look at is the scandalous prison sentences handed down Lack of garda on the streets havnt seen a garda on the beat in years ,garda are well under resourced thats the problem should be like the states 3 strikes ur doing life behind bars

The sooner these thugs are gone the better There will always be a demand for it. The only way to control it is by legalisation. The biggest buyers of it are the middle class and the rich. Turns some ppl into horrible ppl you know that's not them it's the drug wrecked so many lives what's frightening is how common it's become

The heavy cost of the delusion in attempting to fight a war on drugs. ferdgrapperhaus ministerieJenV Politie MinPres VVD Everyone that uses that muck has blood on their hands, And they are from all walks of life don`t just blame the toerags.. Legalize it

'Normal mothers are losing their children over cocaine,' warns family law solicitor - Independent.ie'Rampant' cocaine use is fuelling domestic violence and dominating family court cases, it has been claimed. 'Normal'? Took it once, didn't like it - gave it to someone else, I always found the culture and structure of the industry? interesting - those people are different to me. To lose one child is unfortunate but to lose children !! it must of been the best of coke

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Thousands demand Harry and Meghan pay own security costs - Independent.ieThousands of Canadians have signed a petition demanding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pay for their own security costs, amid mounting concern the country could be saddled with a bill c Even more demand to AbolishTheMonarchy completely While I have nothing against Harry and his wife , why do they even need protection. Who is going to harm them. He is not in line for the throne and is just a civilian. Not sure why any member of RF has security either. Time to pension the whole lot off.

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