A father’s anti-drug crusade

EVEN though Derek Jennings worked in addiction support, he didn’t know his own child had started using drugs. “Being a man, I said, ‘I’ll stop it’,” he says of his 14-year-old’s addiction.

“But I was powerless, there was nothing I could do. That was one of my biggest difficulties — that I couldn’t do anything about it.

“My child was in the house, out of the house; was robbing, homeless, in foster care; came back to the house, was on drugs, off drugs, on treatment, off treatment,” he says of the four years his child was addicted.

“In hindsight, it was damaging the other children — I totally neglected them because I was so tied up in my other child’s addiction,” he says. Because his child is now drug-free, Derek, who is from Clondalkin, Co Dublin, says does not name either his child or mention gender, in order to protect the child’s anonymity.

The breakthrough for Derek came one Christmas. “Money went missing and I put my child out of the house in January. I decided to cut all ties because I couldn’t take it any more — the enabling, the fear. My child went to a hostel, then to Limerick and then home again, completely drug-free,” he says.

Derek says that as connected as he was to addiction-support services, he was ill-equipped to deal with his child’s addiction — and that men were largely absent in using those support services. “With a psychologist, I set up Fathers of Addicts Support Group, 14 years ago. The first night, we had three men, then four, then five. The biggest attendance we’ve had is 17. Over 130 men have passed through the group — it’s peer-led support from the other fathers in the group,” he says.

The group travels the country with a Men At Work drama, telling the true-life experiences of fathers with a child addicted to drugs. It is involved in Wasted, a new two-act play, scripted and acted by family members, including Derek, affected by drug addiction and told from the point of view of parents, grandparents, siblings and the drug users.

The story of how two Dublin families cope with their daughters’ addiction to heroin will be performed in Blanchardstown on March 30, before a possible nationwide tour (full details on www.gbrd.ie).

“The best help you can give your child with drug addiction is no help. Giving up drugs is about them. You have to focus on the non-drug using children and build a normal family life,” Mr Jennings says.

. For further information on Fathers of Addicts Support Group, contact Derek on 086-1567653.

Safety advice plan for small businesses

The Health and Safety Authority is organising breakfast briefings for small-business owners around the country in the next month.

From 8.15am-10.15am, the briefings will advise you on how to reduce the chance of an accident in your workplace, save time and money, learn to generate your own risk assessments and safety state-ments, and comply with health-and-safety legislation.

The briefings will be in the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise, on Mar 13, the Tullamore Court Hotel, Tullamore, on Mar 14, the Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan, on Mar 23, the Tower Hotel, Waterford, on Mar 27, the Clonmel Park Conference, leisure and spa hotel, Clonmel, on Mar 28, and Gallagher’s Hotel, Letterkenny on Apr 19.

. Register on-line at www.hsa.ie. Or email events@hsa.ie or call 01-6147066. Attendance is free.

Soccer star kicks off Asthma Run

Ireland defender and Sunder-land star John O’Shea is just one sportsman supporting the Asthma Society’s Great Open Airways Run campaign. John, along with other household sporting names like Ronan O’Gara, has asthma. He is pictured here at the campaign launch with actress Charlie Murphy.

The Great Open Airways Run campaign will fundraise for the Asthma Society which has had a 30% cut in funding.

“Exercise is a common trigger for asthma, but exercise is good for everyone, including people with asthma,” says Dr Jean Holohan, CEO of the Asthma Society.

“Even if exercise is a trig-ger for your asthma, that does not mean the end of being active. It can be prevented and treated so that everyone can reach their own sporting potential.”

Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of asthma in the world.

More than 470,000 people live with asthma across the country.

. Contact the Asthma Society on 01-8178886

Did you know...

Adult males with strong immune systems are seen as more sexually attractive to females

(Source: University of Abertay, Dundee, Scotland)


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