Thomas didn’t dream of becoming an addict

Thoms didn't dream of becoming an addict

Thomas dreamed of horses. At just sixteen, he stood on the rich green grass of the Curragh … a promising young apprentice jockey, tending world-renowned Thoroughbreds in the soft light of dawn, watching his dreams become real.

But one night Thomas mixed in with the wrong crowd. He first used heroin at age 18. Less than three years after he looked out over the Curragh, Thomas was in a prison cell for committing robbery to finance his drug habit. (His jump from drugs to crime isn’t unique: in a recent UK study, nearly six in ten drug users say their drug use came before crime.)

He spent most of his twenties in prison, including the first years of his daughter’s life. Says Thomas, “She thought I was out of the country working, me Ma told her that. I promised meself as soon as Cara was born that would be my last sentence. It was pretty hard on my parents.”

This is where Thomas was at when he came to Merchants Quay Ireland. With a criminal record and few options for the future, but determined to keep the promise he’d made to set things right. For Thomas, and for others in his shoes, Merchants Quay provides free job training, help with housing, drug treatment and aftercare support.

Today he’s a changed man, having gone from heroin user to devoted father.

And no one is more thrilled than Thomas:

“I am after getting me own apartment from the council. It’s a two-bedroom apartment for me and my daughter, not too far from me mother’s house. I can see me Ma from where I live so my daughter actually cycles up and when she’s ready to come home I wait at the top of the road. I am looking forward to the rest of my life … and I thank this programme for what it done.