A SUPPORT group has been established in Lurgan for individuals and their families who are affected by drug dependency.
The inaugural AGM of Families Affected By Substance Dependency (FASD) took place in Mount Zion House on July 31, although its members had been working hard in the communities long before that.
The new committee is made up of chairperson Frank Hughes, vice-chairperson John Robinson, treasurer Marie Robinson and secretary Dwyer McKerr.
Dwyer explained: “Before the AGM we’d had a lot of meetings with people following a story which appeared in the Lurgan Mail offering a ‘listening ear’ for people with substance dependency.
“Some of the people who spoke to us have remained with the group while others have moved on. At that time we were in an embryonic stage and people thought we were an established group.
“Now we’re in our infancy. We’re doing research into other groups and deciding which models to follow.”
Frank added: “We’ve been in contact with Opportunity Youth and local groups like PIPS with a view to forming strategic partnerships. The aim is to close the loop so people aren’t left in limbo.
“After seeing your doctor a clinical referral to a cognitive behavioural specialist can take anywhere from eight weeks up to three months. It’s a very long gap and guys can go off the rails during that time.
“You’re usually handed tablets as well which for somebody who has had an addiction isn’t ideal. They’re saying, ‘Don’t be taking those drugs, take these drugs instead’.”
Dwyer said: “We want to provide a service that can help them while the referral is going through. There’s a gap in the provision and we want to fill it.”
Frank and Dwyer were casual acquaintances who became firm friends when Dwyer helped Frank through a tough period in his life.
Dwyer said: “A friend of mine had hit rock bottom with drugs and I made my mission to get him through. I did a bit of research to see if there was anyone my friend could speak to and that’s when I saw the gap in provision.”
FASD are hoping to hold more meetings in the near future for both addicts and the families of those suffering from addiction to drugs.
Frank said: “People have the answers within themselves. All we’re doing is providing a safe space for people to talk with others who are going through the same thing.
“The thing about speaking with specialists is it’s often more difficult to open if the people you’re talking to haven’t been down the same road.”
The group are looking for a neutral territory to set up a home in the town and in the meantime anyone wishing to make contact with FASD should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0751 085 1056.