‘Heroin put me in a cell with my son; I had to get clean’


A former heroin dealer, who robbed a bank at gunpoint to feed his habit, said that meeting his own son in prison forced him to get clean.

He was speaking to the Irish Examiner as part of a special report looking at heroin use in Cork city after fears were expressed at a recent Joint Policing Committee that the city is in the grip of a “heroin epidemic”.

Used needles are becoming more common around Cork as the city’s heroin problem grows.
Used needles are becoming more common around Cork as the city’s heroin problem grows.

Adam, 45, whose name has been changed to protect his family, said: “I never took drugs with my son, but by my actions he thought it was cool and followed suit.

“I was in prison for 20 years, for selling heroin and robbing a bank. I’ve been in all the prisons in this country. I’ve seen a few father and sons in there, the most in Mountjoy.

“This November gone, I was sitting in my cell and my 22-year-old son was sitting two feet away from me. He was playing Play Station on one telly and I was watching a documentary on the other.

I realised that if I didn’t change I was going to wreck this young fella’s life.

Adam has been drug-free for seven months thanks to the support of addiction treatment charity Cuan Mhuire. He is planning a new career and said that he regrets his criminal past.

“I’d commit crimes and then hold drug parties. It was about the lifestyle, the cars, good clothes, I thought it was cool,” he said.

“I’ve traumatised a lot of people. I robbed a bank allegedly with a firearm. I didn’t touch anyone but the threat of violence was there.

Those people will be traumatised for the rest of their lives all because I wanted money.

“Doing the five months in Cuan Mhuire was the best decision I ever made after having my kids. I owe Cuan Mhuire a lot, this place has been a Godsend.”

Cuan Mhuire is one of the few places that offers detox beds to heroin users. The organisation says that it has seen a 50% increase in people seeking treatment for heroin addiction over the last three years.

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