“If they pick something up, one small thing, it makes nights like tonight worthwhile. The words of Addiction Counsellor and former-GAA star Oisin McConville appropriately sum up the County Longford Drugs Forum’s information evening, which took place on Monday April 15th in the Temperance Hall.
The information evening was a part of the County Longford Drug Forum’s Drug Awareness Week, and was funded by the GAA, the Department of Health and the Midland Regional Drugs Task Force. It was attended by members of the general public and representatives of various organisations and services involved in the County Longford Drugs Forum, including; HSE, VEC, GAA, The Attic Youth Cafe, Foróige and An Garda Síochána.
There were three guest speakers on the night, covering all areas of the topic. Annie Blessington, Family Welfare Conference Coordinator, HSE was the first to speak. She explained the process of a Family Welfare Conference, and why it was important. She explained that it didn’t specifically address addiction, but that it was a “tool” available to families where there is concern for a child/children in the family.
Next to speak was Sgt Adrian Queeney of the Garda Drug Squad. He spoke of the Garda’s point of view regarding addiction, particularly where alcohol and drugs were concerned. Sgt Queeney explained the consequences of taking or selling drugs, and what effects it can have on someone’s life from the aspect of health, to travel and employment.
Oisin McConville was the final speaker of the night, detailing his own personal battle with addiction. Oisin, who hasn’t gambled in over seven years, told the tale of his addiction, how he put on his first bet aged just 14, and how, looking back, he was addicted even then. In the midst of his addiction, Oisin often spent all his wages on gambling, and took out loans and borrowed money just to keep going. “I thought I had everything going for me” he explained, continuing, “in actual fact I had absolutely nothing.” Oisin encouraged anyone with an addiction problem to talk to someone, be it a professional or a family member. “Once you voice it I think things immediately get better for you.”
Everyone in attendance was also provided with informative leaflets and a handbook on drugs and alcohol. The leaflets contained names and contact details of the local drugs and alcohol services. For more information on drugs and alcohol services in Longford or the County Longford Drugs Forum, contact the Forum’s Chairperson Cllr. Tony Flaherty on 086 7329177.