Conor Harris remembers the first time he tried cocaine. A promising young footballer from Kildare, in fifth grade and aged 17, Harris had attended his school’s sixth grade graduation ceremony. One of the older boys was on cocaine and, curious, decided to give it a try.
âWhen I first did it, I knew it was for me. I felt like I had arrived. I felt like this was what I needed in my life, because I was an energetic person anyway, I was loud, and when I took it I was, like , damn shit – and I just wanted more and more.
His drug use quickly escalated in the summer after fifth grade, and soon he was using cocaine all weekend long, from Friday night to Sunday night.
During Harris’ last year of school, his older friends attended nearby college, so he also started taking cocaine with them on weeknights. Then he started to sell drugs, to finance his habit. âI was going to meet people and I started going to parties to sell drugs,â he says.
By the time his Leaving Cert arrived, Harris was regularly using cocaine and the drugs had started to “take over” him. âIt escalated to the point that I was using cocaine while I was sitting at Leaving Cert; right before I took the exam I would have had a few bumps.
It was during his Leaving Cert vacation in Croatia that he stopped taking pleasure in drugs; it had become an addiction. âI used cocaine all day, every day, in Croatia, and I didn’t sleep for five days. When I came back, things got really, really bad. I used it every day. I used it during work; I even used it once before going out to play a soccer game, âhe says.
Her addiction and mental state continued to skyrocket throughout the following year. He went to bed âlocked up, the curtains closed, using cocaine all day, every day. Piss into a bottle in my bedroom and pour it out the bedroom window. I couldn’t leave my room anymore, because I was afraid of the world and afraid of what I had become.
His sanity collapsed. “The sun was shining outside and I would be in my dark room, with thousands of dollars of cocaine on my back … All the while my heart was so sore, and every time I took a line I thought that I was going to die.
Mother’s Day 2019 marked the lowest point for the young man from Kildare – a suicide attempt was only prevented by a friend who returned to where he had seen Harris earlier. âI couldn’t say anything. All I could do was cry and cry: how did I end up here, at 19, lying next to the Liffey with no clothes on, trying to kill myself?
It was then that he began to believe his life could improve. He started taking drug addiction counseling. Although he was still using cocaine, he said, he had “that little desire in me now that I wanted to get better, and that’s why I kept going back, and I ended up going in. in a treatment center in July and I spent five months in a rehabilitation center â.
Now, two years cocaine free, Harris is apprenticing and moving on with his life. He says he has discovered that his purpose is “to help others, to pass on what I have received and to share my story”.
Her experience with cocaine may not be typical, but it is not unique. There are growing concerns about the long-term consequences of unprecedented levels of cocaine use among young people.
Read Cocaine Nation: âThe drug clichÃ© of the rich is long gone. It’s everywhere now ‘ here
Jack Ryan is a final year student at Trinity College Dublin and a freelance writer.