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Past UCC Student Shines on Tommy Tiernan Show

by Maeve O’Sullivan

Saturday 26th of January saw Irish viewers inspired by Cork man James Leonard when he was interviewed on the Tommy Tiernan Show. In the discussion, James revealed how he overcame his heroin addiction.

The Cork native found himself introduced to heroin at the age of 21 after years of experimentation with other drugs. Tommy Tiernan was moved to tears as he listened to the young man share how he turned his life around from what was a low place.

‘’Throughout the heroin use, the craic left. There’s no more bonding. It’s very isolating. Theft was the type of crime. Doing desperate things to try and get the money for drugs.’’ James’ struggle of ten years left him wondering if he would ever be without the substance, despite the difficulties it imposed.

‘’Every day is a struggle. You look like sh*t and you are treated like sh*t. Society looks at heroin addicts as the worst in society.’’ When the effects of James’ drug abuse resulted in him passing out on the streets until two Gardai found him, saving his life. It was from here James took on the road to recovery.

Eventually the young man persevered and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Community work in UCC, moving on to a Masters in Criminology. Empowered by his experiences, James now works for the Cork Education and Training Board Youth Services.

Tommy shared his own option on the drug crisis in Ireland. ‘’Underneath that mask of disgrace is a wonderful human being and it would make you think of all the young fellas and the young ones you see around the city’. There’s beauty in them as well’’.

Those who tuned on the night took to twitter to express their admiration of the interview; viewer Anthony O’Loughlin said, ‘’No doubt you are going to make a huge difference to people’s lives for the rest of your life. Inspirational’’.

If you or anyone you know in need of drug related help, call the National Drug and Alcohol Helpline freephone 1800 459 459 or email helpline@hse.ie for confidential support.