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

“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.

‘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”.

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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