Wednesday 12 December 2018

'Do not give my son money when you see him begging... you're feeding his heroin addiction'- Father's plea

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A father of a homeless, heroin addict has urged people not to give money direct to addicts begging on the street as he believes it fuels their addictions.

Frank's 23-year-old son is a heroin addict. He believes that his son uses the money that passers-by hand him to purchase drugs.

His son lives in a tent by a riverbank but Frank said he is "well-fed" by a charity in their town which provides meals to homeless people daily.

"When people give the homeless money, they are very often feeding their addiction as they’re well fed through a charity who look after them," Frank told RTE's Liveline.

Frank believes giving money to people with substance abuse problems makes it more difficult for them to break free from addiction. He said that people seem to forget when they see rough sleepers "strung out", that they may have contributed to that behaviour by giving them money.

He's concerned that these donations are putting lives at risk, including his son's. His son had been a drug addict for a while, but Frank only recently learned that he had progressed to heroin.

"I saw him over the weekend by coincidence. I've been fortunate enough to have spoken to someone who has seen him today so I know he's still alive," Frank said.

"He's in a poor state of health, he's obviously on heroin... he's in a bad way.

"He's begging to feed his addiction. People are enabling that addiction by giving him money. I don't know what the [solution] is though... if they don't get money will they do something daft?"

Frank called for more resources to combat the mental health and drug addiction crises that grip the country.

"We've closed down our mental health hospitals. They're trying to rejuvenate all our city centres but these people who are too dysfunctional to be homed in a housing shelter are left to die on the streets," he said.

Frank wakes up every day worrying about his son. He said that because his son is an adult, he cannot get information about his wellbeing from the authorities.

"You wake up everyday [worrying]... there was a flood there a few nights ago and he was camping near a river and the first thing I thought was 'did the flood take him away'?"

He said his family is "only one of thousands of families in this country" with a loved one addicted to drugs.

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