Casual drug use 'puts your life on the line', warns former addict
A former addict whose needle-scarred arms shocked the nation 13 years ago has warned casual drug users that they are putting their lives on the line, following fears that a bad batch of drugs is in circulation.
Dubliner Rachael Keogh (39) made the news in 2006 when images of her arms, ravaged by years of injecting heroin, were published.
She went on to become a bestselling author with the release of a harrowing memoir detailing her battle with addiction and subsequent recovery.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, the mother-of-one said she has heard plenty of cases where recreational or first-time drug users have died following a bad batch of drugs.
"I couldn't tell you the amount of people I knew personally who died from overdoses, so it's not shocking for me to hear," she said.
"I had a cousin who was only 18 and never used drugs. She was heading off to America to start a new job, but decided to go to a party beforehand and take ecstasy.
"Unfortunately, she fell ill and overdosed a short time later. Cases like these are beyond tragic and I know there's so much peer pressure on young people today, but it's just not worth the risk."
Ms Keogh's comments came following reports that some youngsters have been unknowingly ingesting poor quality or highly potent substances at festivals and house parties.
Last week, a 21-year-old man from Co Galway had been left fighting for his life in hospital after taking a substance at a festival in Co Wicklow.
And earlier this month, 19-year-old Jack Downey died after a suspected overdose at the Indiependence festival in Cork.
Ms Keogh was speaking yesterday at the launch of the first Ballymun Recovery Month, which celebrates addiction recovery.
During September, Ballymun, along with other communities across Ireland, will be hosting activities and events highlighting that recovery from addiction works.
Former drug user Donna Kinsella (40), from Ballymun, Dublin, is just one of the many success stories from her community.
"Anyone can get clean and stay clean - I'm a testament to that," she said.
"I first started smoking cannabis at the age of 14 and thought it was all fun and games. I then progressed to heroin at 17 and then on to methadone.
"When I first decided to stop once and for all, I knew I couldn't do it alone. Thankfully, there were plenty of services in my community that I availed of which made all the difference."