Rugby hero Gerry McLoughlin opens his home to heroin addicts
A former rugby hero has been using his own home to help heroin addicts detox.
Gerry 'Ginger' McLoughlin, who is a Labour councillor in Limerick, said he had brought "the most vulnerable" into his own home to give them a chance to come off drugs in a safe environment.
"I've dealt with five or six young people. None of them had family support. One was abused as a child. I try and provide them with a mentoring scenario over five to six months or however long is needed.
"There's no drugs, they get fed, they're away from bad influences and other addicts and they get a safe place to put their head down," he said.
"It's hard because it's like teaching a child about life all over again. They've never known any better so I get disappointed or deflated when I see them back on the streets."
His reasons for helping addicts are very personal, he said.
"A close family member -- I don't want to say who -- got into difficulty with drugs and alcohol and I took them away to a house in Co Clare.
"It was about 10 years ago and it was intense. It took about seven months of intense working at it. It took patience.
"There was great family support involved -- but not everyone has that. The person is now back on track," Mr McLoughlin said.
The key to helping those on drugs is to take them out of the environment in which they became addicted, he said.
"I see so many young people walking the streets with nothing to do and nowhere to go.
"They say 'an idle mind is a dangerous workshop', and so many people are getting caught up in drugs," he added.
Cllr McLoughlin, who represents the people of Garryowen -- "an area of 2,000 houses and no community centre -- praised gardai in Limerick and elsewhere for bringing in "massive drug seizures".
The HSE said yesterday that 200 people attend its methadone programme in Limerick.