Hurling and camogie

Help is out there for those struggling with addiction: Antrim hurler Domhnall Nugent

Domhnall Nugent opened up about his struggle with alcoholism last year, and has spoken of the dangers facing those in recovery in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. Picture by Mal McCann
Neil Loughran

YOU are not alone – that is the message from Antrim hurler Domhnall Nugent to those, like himself, in recovery from addiction in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

The 23-year-old spoke openly last year of his struggles with alcoholism, and how hurling had played a major part in his battle back from the brink after spending 12 weeks at the Cuan Mhuire addiction treatment centre in Newry.

Yet while the caman code gave him a focus, it is the Cuan Mhuire aftercare meetings that have been central to everything he has achieved in the months since. Those meetings - and many others catering for different forms of addiction - have been suspended, leaving some of the most vulnerable people in our society wondering where to turn.

Nugent had a “scary” episode in the aftermath of the blanket ban placed upon GAA activity until talking and sharing his feelings helped him out the other side.

You are never alone, he insists, and talking is more important now than it has ever been for those in the grip of addiction of any kind.

“These are challenging times for everyone and particularly those in recovery,” said the St John’s clubman, whose performances helped Antrim to the brink of promotion for Division 2A of the National League.

“While we are in isolation, it is important that people don’t isolate their feelings. Like, the Friday night after this all kicked was the first free Friday night I’ve had since I came out of Cuan Mhuire.

“My whole focus, sporting wise, has been hurling. Even if I had a Friday night off, there was something to look forward to over the weekend.

“That night I was in the apartment on my own, and all of a sudden you’re thinking ‘what am I going to do?’ I got a mad itch for a pint, the first time I’ve got into that sort of ‘stinking thinking’, as we call it.

“Being isolated, you’re away from all the things and the structure that have helped you get back to feeling normal. I had to go to an AA meeting on the Falls Road that Friday evening; it was so, so scary.

“When I was telling the people there how I felt, they were all in the same boat with all of this happening. Most of the AA meetings and aftercare meetings are held in schools or community halls, and they’ve all been shut down now, so it’s a very tough time.

“But the best thing I did was going and talking to people, and if anyone finds themselves in that position in the days, weeks and months ahead, talking to people is the best drug there is.

“Going and expressing how you’re feeling, it’s something I’ve had to do a lot in the last year. You can never be too honest about where you are, because that way you’re not hiding anything. If you’re stuck in that rut, go and talk to a friend or a family member, even go for a walk to try and clear your head.”

With human contact limited, and with so much uncertainty around the world, Nugent has also urged people to be careful what they post on social media.

He added: “There’s a lot of negativity out there, and a lot of scary stuff on social media at the minute regarding the coronavirus.

“People need to think very carefully about what they’re putting out because that’s the only outlet and the only form of communication with the outside world that a lot of us have.

“If you surround yourself with negativity you’ll become a negative person, a negative thinker. As addicts, that only leads you one way; to places you don’t want to go. I don’t want to be that person again, and you have to keep reminding yourself of how far you’ve come.

“If anyone needs to talk, at any time day and night, there are numbers and people available.”


Cuan Mhuire family members are available 24 hours a day

Cathy 07517 922125, Martin 07850 495031, Bob 07544 570388, Linda 07591 230756, Domhnall 07376 274651, Harry 07902 424186, Shauna 07595 365999, Pat 07545 558141, Paul 07766 081202 or Padraic 07856 046419

Online meetings directory

Gamblers anonymous

Speaker tape websites

Speaker tape apps

AA audio companion

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