Cocaine Rampant among GAA Players, according to Former All Star Limerick Hurler Ciaran Carey; this is not Good News for the GAA???

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Former All-Star claims GAA players ‘in every club’ are using cocaine

 19th October 2021


GAA players in ‘every club in the country’ are choosing to use cocaine instead of alcohol, with the drug becoming more accessible to young people during the pandemic, it was claimed on Monday.© Provided by Extra.ie

Former Limerick hurling All-Star Ciarán Carey, 51, said he has experienced a surge of people struggling with cocaine in his own psychotherapy practice, particularly in the last 12 months.

The counsellor said that other than gambling, the drug is the biggest addiction facing players.Former Limerick hurling All-Star Ciarán Carey, 51, said he has experienced a surge of people struggling with cocaine in his own psychotherapy practice, particularly in the last 12 months. Pic: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile© Provided by Extra.ie Former Limerick hurling All-Star Ciarán Carey, 51, said he has experienced a surge of people struggling with cocaine in his own psychotherapy practice, particularly in the last 12 months. Pic: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

‘It just doesn’t appear to be going away,’ he told Newstalk. ‘I’ve about ten clubs out there at the moment actually waiting for me in the new year to do some type of workshop.

‘It needs to be confronted at an officership level and reach out for certain people, roll out one or two workshops in each club.’

Mr Carey said the problem was traditionally among younger men, but he is seeing a rise in female players using the drug. He added that people who are struggling with their mental health are particularly vulnerable.The counsellor said that other than gambling, the drug is the biggest addiction facing players. Pic: Matt Browne/Sportsfile© Provided by Extra.ie The counsellor said that other than gambling, the drug is the biggest addiction facing players. Pic: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

‘It depends where you’re at emotionally in your own life and I suppose cocaine is no different to having your first drink – unfortunately, if you are a bit emotionally derailed, you dabble, and unfortunately, if you dabble often enough or long enough, it will grab you,’ he said.

According to the former sporting hero, sports clubs used to try to push the problem under the carpet, but in recent years, they are taking a firmer stance. ’

Also speaking on the show, former Antrim dual player CJ McGourty said coaches should be taught how to recognise signs of addiction among players.Former Antrim dual player CJ McGourty said coaches should be taught how to recognise signs of addiction among players. Pic: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile© Provided by Extra.ie Former Antrim dual player CJ McGourty said coaches should be taught how to recognise signs of addiction among players. Pic: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

‘Try and get coaches to try and understand that sort of age group that may be at risk of taking [drugs],’ he said.

‘Understand changes in mood, or changes in the way they are taking part in sport and behaviour they don’t usually recognise.

‘There also needs to be a massive punishment if any player is caught first-hand taking drugs.Mr Carey said the problem was traditionally among younger men, but he is seeing a rise in female players using the drug. Pic: Shutterstock© Provided by Extra.ie Mr Carey said the problem was traditionally among younger men, but he is seeing a rise in female players using the drug. Pic: Shutterstock

‘That is where captains have a role to play and senior team members, to try and help young lads go on the straight and narrow.’

Mr McGourty also suggested that regular drug testing at club level may be a useful tool to tackle the problem.

Cork-based drug counsellor Nicole Ní Riain said she can understand why cocaine may seem appealing to a young athlete. ‘It makes sense why these people are turning to cocaine as opposed to drink,’ she said.

‘Alcohol will make you put on weight, and your performance and training will suffer as a result – whereas taking a line of cocaine will give you a buzz without the negative effects of drink.Cork-based drug counsellor Nicole Ní Riain said she can understand why cocaine may seem appealing to a young athlete. Pic: Shutterstock© Provided by Extra.ie Cork-based drug counsellor Nicole Ní Riain said she can understand why cocaine may seem appealing to a young athlete. Pic: Shutterstock

‘However, cocaine addiction can happen so easily and I have met some young men who cannot go out without taking it. ‘Many only use it on the weekend, but it can turn into a daily habit very quick.’

Ms Ní Riain said GAA players tend to be more prone to cocaine use than athletes in other sports. She explained: ‘These players are local heroes and there is so much pressure on them to meet everyone’s expectations, along with balancing their sporting ambitions with their work and family life. They see cocaine as a pick-me-up.’

Ms Ní Riain, who became an addiction counsellor after her brother Alex died of an accidental overdose in 2016, added that the GAA needs to do a better job in addressing issues around drug abuse. However, she also acknowledged that the issue is a wider societal problem.

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