Limerick legend Ciarán Carey says addiction is “stronger than it ever was” for several people during the coronavirus lockdown.
A trained psychotherapy counsellor primarily based in Cuan Mhuire’s Residential Treatment Centre in Bruree, the Patrickswell senior hurling manager is busy working with people hoping to recover.
However, he knows there are there are many suffering as well as their families who feel they don’t have anywhere to turn to during the crisis.
“In the middle of the lockdown now and as long as it’s going on, there are no bank holidays for addictions. It’s firmly alive and stronger than it ever was.
"That would obviously make it hard for anyone in addiction, number one, and their family members, number two, because the knock-on effect is likely to be felt by them be it a wife, mother or father, son or daughter.
“They’re usually getting the brunt of addiction and that’s where most of the hurt and pain is.
Their hands are tied and they have no place to go at present so that would give an idea of what some families are enduring at the moment.
A recovering alcoholic, Carey has a degree in counselling and addiction studies. He knows himself how much of a task it has been to provide structure and order to daily life during the lockdown.
He’s not necessarily missing hurling right now but admits he initially found it difficult to adjust to losing routine.
“Without a doubt. It was a huge challenge from the start to mould myself in starting a whole new structure to my day and setting new goals and being disciplined. If you’re not armed with that knowledge you’re going to struggle on top of that.
“It’s inevitable that the coronavirus is going to come to an end but until that day comes you need patience, taking it one day at a time. I imagine a lot of good is going to come out of it, a lot of families are going to strengthen their bond and relationships, and there are people closer to one another generally.
On top of that, if your faith is good it’s another huge bonus that you can cling onto. If it’s a relationship with the Lord Jesus or the Blessed Mother, that can be hugely comforting to people as well.
Technology has meant the closure of pubs and betting offices and the practice of social distancing has done little to tackle the problem of addiction, says three-time All-Star winner Carey.
“Closing the bars was one thing but I struggled myself with the idea that they weren’t closing off-licences but then you have alcohol in every shop anyway so it probably wouldn’t have been a prudent move for the government or the leaders to do that. I initially thought it was a mistake but the access to alcohol is always going to be there.
The access to phones means betting is available 24 hours a day. Drugs is no different. Anybody who wants drugs knows exactly who has them and where they have to go to get them.
There has also been personal loss for Carey during the lockdown with the death of his wife Miriam’s mother Mary Bennis, wife of fellow Limerick star Phil, last Thursday week. The social distancing protocols made it an even more traumatic experience for the Bennis and Guerin families.
“There are an awful lot of people who have gone through serious tragedy through the coronavirus crisis. My own mother-in-law passed away. It was like something out of The Twilight Zone. It was a nightmare. She was sick and her husband was in Croom in another hospital.
He couldn’t get to see her, her sons and daughters couldn’t get to see her.
“It was bad enough the bereavement of a loved one, which was their mum, and then you had the whole trauma of family members not being able to get in and see her. You had the loss of a church, the loss of a wake so there was an awful lot of a knock-on effect there and that’s happening to so many families around the country. You have to be praying for these people.”
What did provide comfort was the way in which the parish turned out to pay their respects to the funeral cortege and the multitude of messages of sympathy conveyed to the family.
“I have to say Patrickswell, the community, were absolutely outstanding and paid a massive tribute to Mary,” Carey remarks.
“They showed the amount of respect they have for a woman of her calibre. It was good to see. I witnessed something similar in Kilmallock when Mike Houlihan lost his brother (Gerard) during this crisis. Every family has a story out of this and there are too many that are sad.”
As mentioned, Carey can’t say he’s yearning for the return of hurling. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not high on the list of priorities but he knows how powerful a message it will send out when the GAA premises reopen.
“Everybody would like to see that happen obviously but that can only be dictated by how we’re coping with the virus, the strength of it in the country and to be fair we have to be guided by that. It’s sport, it’s an amateur sport and there is a lot more at risk and at stake than amateur sport.
“But I know what the fields reopening would mean to people.
"When they’re open again and they’re back playing it would appear we’re getting back to the norm.
That will happen inevitably but personally I’m enjoying the break at the moment. It will be helter skelter when it comes back but all in good time.