Irish mum - 'I thought drugs were just an underprivileged thing 'til they came to my door'
The idea that drug use is limited to one social class is "rubbish", says one mother from the south west.
Carmel*, who wishes to remain anonymous, says her family came from a relatively comfortable background but drug use was rampant among her son's peers.
"I would have been of the school of thought [that it was restricted to underprivileged areas] until it came to my door," she says.
"The idea that it only happens in certain areas, I think that's rubbish," she added. "It's in every town and village in Ireland, and it's probably in every school."
When Carmel noticed her young son, Ben*, started getting angrier in his mid-teens, she initially put it down to adolescent angst.
But when he became more and more aggressive, Carmel confided in a teacher about her worries. A few weeks later, the teacher informed her that her son had been caught smoking cannabis at school. She then confronted Ben when he came home from school.
"He totally denied it for at least one hour," the mother-of-three said.
"Just as I was turning the corner on my belief of him, he got up from the table, went to the bathroom and got sick."
After another hour, her son admitted that he had been smoking weed with friends in school. However, he insisted that he would give up.
But in the proceeding weeks and months, it was clear the problem wasn't going away. On one occasion, Ben passed out in a local shopping centre after smoking cannabis. He also turned to alcohol and almost ended up in hospital after a binge at a party.
"When my husband and I used to confront him, Ben would get quite angry," Carmel says.
Not sure of what to do, she said the family tried to "keep things level".
"We didn't want to drive a wedge between us, and wanted to keep the lines of communication open and help him."
After several more bad experiences, Carmel brought Ben to their GP, who suggested that Ben go to counselling in a private setting. Carmel says that her son is now doing well after months of counselling and support from friends and family. But she admits his drug use has irrevocably changed their relationship.
"There are still times now that I find it difficult to trust him. Once he has done that, it's always at the back of your mind that he lied before, and lied quite well," she said.
"But you have to try and trust him, because if there's no trust then what sort of relationship do you have?"
* Names have been changed