Addicts’ families can get support

PAT HERLIHY spent years sitting at the front window of his home or driving around the streets of Cork looking for his daughter.

His daughter had developed a drug addiction and he — like any father — had an addiction to his daughter.

“Around five to six years ago my daughter started taking drugs,” said Pat. “She started smoking hash, taking a few tablets, prescription tablets and then started smoking heroin. She was also a heavy drinker.” He said the addiction had a terrible impact on the family.

“It tore the whole family apart. We tried not to mention it, we’d be tip-toeing around her. Me and my wife would end up arguing. The whole family was on tenterhooks all the time.”

He said his life revolved around his daughter.

“I was addicted to her — it’s a father’s instinct to protect your daughter. I used to be waiting for her to come home, sitting inside the window waiting or driving around looking for her. She could be out five to six nights a week.”

He said she was around 21 at this stage.

“I couldn’t go out. I’d get phone calls telling me to collect her here or calls from a garda station saying they had her. I once had to go to Waterford to collect her. I got a call from a taxi company at 2.30am saying she was at their base.”

“There was the shame of it. I was afraid to tell even my friends.”

He said only two years ago he contacted the HOPE Family Support Group, one of 13 groups affiliated to the Cork Family Support Network (FSN), which is part of the National FSN.

“I was reluctant to contact them first, but when I did the amount of help I got. It’s like having another family. They support you. You realise you are not alone. We share our stories and help each other.”

Pat is taking part in HOPE’s inaugural ceremony of remembrance at the SMA Church in Wilton at 7.30pm for people whose lives have been affected through their own or other’s drug or alcohol use.

Pat’s daughter has been on methadone for the last two years or so and her dose is being steadily reduced.

“We are still waiting and watching her, but there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

- HOPE is hosting a play, Cracking Lives, at the Half Moon Theatre between November 7-12. Contact HOPE on 086 8450488 or the National FSN on 01 8365168.

Picture: Pat Herlihy: Spent years trying to cope with daughter’s wayward behaviour. Picture: Denis Minihane

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