Years after beating his heroin addiction, Martin scored in a football match in front of his young son. What should have been a moment of intense pride quickly turned to humiliation as rival teammates began shouting “junkie”.
“The number nine, kick him, kick him, he’s a f**king junkie!” Martin recalls of his treatment on the pitch, the residual stigma apparent in his expression. His son was 11-years-old.
“I had to explain...not go into massive detail, but just say look, daddy made some bad decisions. But I didn’t want to brace that with my son yet. I wanted to wait until he was 15 or 16.”
Martin, who asked not to be identified, is among a number of voices on an audio promo for a campaign addressing negative perceptions of drug addicts.
“Stop the Stigma”, an initiative of the Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign has been launched on the back of six focus groups examining drug use and society’s often visceral response to it among 70 current and former addicts.
Heroin at 16
Martin was using heroin at 16 and only finished up with methadone, which followed the heroin use, two decades later.
Another time, he remembers, he was travelling to hospital with his mother who was undergoing cancer treatment when he was again publicly shamed as an addict.
“My ma just balled. I will probably have to carry that for the rest of [MY LIFE],” he says.
Source: Mark Hilliard, The Irish Times, 27/02/18