Drug dealers are targeting families to call in €30k drug debts 'owed' by their children while the Covid-19 crisis impacts trade.Addiction therapist Michael Guerin of Cuan Mhuire rehabilitation centre said that calls from concerned parents whose children owe tens of thousands of euros to drug dealers have increased in recent weeks while trade in cocaine, anecdotally, has fallen.
"None of these people were calling to say that their children owed €500. They owed big money. Tens of thousands of euros," he said.
"You hear about the emotional and physical fallout from drug addiction but no one wants to talk about the financial fallout.
And the amount of money people owe is astonishing. It is nothing for an 18-year-old to owe €10,000 or €20,000 for drugs.
"A 22-year-old told me the other day that he owed €12,000 to a drug dealer in Cork. If you met this guy and didn't know he had a drug problem you'd think he was a kid. He's a fair-haired, fresh-faced guy but he's been using cocaine since he was 14 or 15 years old, and the debt has just taken on a life of its own.
"When you talk about cocaine dependence the money goes off the scale."
Although worried calls about drug debts have increased in recent weeks, Mr Guerin said that it has always been a problem.
"This is going on during the lockdown but it's also been a common thread back when we had no Covid-19," he said.
"Drug dealers would call to the houses of individuals who would owe them money and irrespective of who answered the door they would threaten and become menacing with them.
It's probably going on to a far greater extent now due to the prevailing conditions but this has been going on for a long time.
The debts are destroying families financially, forcing parents to use their life savings or borrow to come up with the money.
"None of these families want to tell anyone that they have been severely stung financially because of their child's drug dependence," Mr Guerin said.
"But I know parents whose life savings are gone from paying their children's drug debt off. Other parents have borrowed mind-boggling amounts - €20,000 and €30,000. And it's very understandable. Because if someone threatens your child's life, money is no factor."