“I first got involved with Coolmine in September 1981.
“While attending Jervis Street Hospital I had to meet a social worker while attending the clinic. At the time I was on an outpatient detox and she recommended that I meet a member of staff from Coolmine who came into the clinic to assess people who were attending for treatment at the hospital for inpatient or outpatient detox (physeptone). I met him, and he told me about Coolmine: how it worked and why the social worker was recommending that I go there after completing the detox.
“They believed that without follow up treatment most people went back using again after completing their detox. At the time I was not interested in any follow up treatment I felt I could get by on my own. I finished the detox and within days I was back using Heroin. Nothing had really changed during the detox: I was doing the same things I had been doing with the same people, so there was only one way it was going to finish up. Trouble with my family and my girlfriend was what motivated me to contact Coolmine about going into treatment.
“I made that phone call to Coolmine Lodge and I was given a date and time when I could go into treatment. I still remember that day so clearly. My brother and his wife brought me out to Coolmine Lodge and left me there. I had to sit on the bench and they asked me if I wanted to stay or go with them, someone from Coolmine spoke to them and they left.
“Probably the best and hardest decision I have ever made in my life was deciding to stay in Coolmine that day. It was a challenging experience but something I needed to do to get some direction in my life because I was heading into a life of crime and addiction. Sadly to say most of the people I hung out with have sadly passed on after years of addiction. The only time we met up over the years after being in Coolmine was at funerals. Thankfully, I completed the programme. It was tough, but I felt supported and learned a lot and I got enough time and space to break away from my old environment and friends who were sadly still using drugs.
“After finishing the program, I got a place to live, a job and new activities. This was all part of the aftercare phase that was in place to support you to move on, back into the community and living independently and being responsible for managing your employment and money management: paying rent, bills and feeding yourself. I managed to complete aftercare and graduate from the programme. This was a big achievement for me getting through the programme and living independently for the first time in my life.
“Working in the services was something I had no interest in. At the time I was working full time, when I got a call from the director of the programme asking would I come back and work for Coolmine as they were under pressure. Coolmine was growing and they were about to move to a big facility in Navan to cope with the population of clients coming into the programme. They needed more staff. I thought long and hard about this, but I felt I owed something to the programme for the chance and support I received when I was on the programme, so I decided to go back and work for Coolmine.
“Forty-three years later I am still part of the staff team and it has been some experience. After being in the programme myself, with all the people I worked with over the years, all the clients that have been through the programme, all the changes and programme development it has been a wonderful experience for me. I feel privileged and forever grateful to Coolmine for the learning and opportunities I have had during my time being a part of the organisation.”