'I thought because I was young and in college I couldn't be an addict'
Aisling* (21), was a college student in Dublin when she started experimenting with drugs.
"When I was using, I liked drugs because they made me feel more at ease in social situations and they were, well, fun," she explains. "The downside for me was that I started to use alcohol and drugs as a psychological crutch, and also found that I invariably overdid it because I never knew when enough was enough."
When she was 20, Aisling was forced to drop out of college to receive treatment for alcohol and drug addiction.
"I had all the classic symptoms, I'd show up to college and work high/drunk, I'd use on my own, I was hospitalised multiple times from overdoing it on nights out.
"I spent painful amounts of money on it though luckily I never got drugs on tick (on credit - drugs now, pay later) so I didn't get into debt.
"I'd depended on alcohol and drugs to help me cope with my emotional problems and then ironically would end up feeling more volatile and emotional when I was high, to the point that I once had to be taken into police custody for my own safety after trying to jump off a bridge.
"I was told to stop using, but I could never last longer than two weeks, until I eventually was sent to hospital."
Aisling explains that despite the obvious evidence she had a problem, she resisted addressing it, convincing herself she was just being a normal college student.
"I staunchly denied that I had a problem and arrived at the treatment centre under the impression I was being treated for depression, only to find out that I was being brought to the addiction ward. I operated under the pretty myopic conditions that given that I was young, in college and not on heroin that I couldn't be an 'addict'. I was wrong.
"Addiction doesn't discriminate based on age, class, sex or situation. It doesn't even matter what drug you use - whether it's drink, weed or pills, if the person is using for the wrong reasons, they can become an addict."
*Name has been changed.