The loss of his chronic alcoholic father made Andy Curry determined to prevent as many as he could face the same fate.
owerless to help his dad, he is committed to making a difference for others facing the same agonies.
The addiction and trauma therapist says more has to be done to help people struggling with drug and drink dependency or else deaths will continue to escalate.
Shocking statistics revealed last week showed the number of drug-related deaths in Northern Ireland has more than doubled over the last 10 years.
In 2020, the number of deaths reported to 218, according to figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Heroin and morphine were connected to 55 of the deaths, the highest number on record.
Andy knows from personal experience the devastation addiction can cause and without help how hard it is to beat.
His father was a raging alcoholic before he died in 2015, he himself was addicted to substances and in turn his mental health suffered.
His father Norman’s death and his own experience with drugs led him to make the decision to study to become a therapist to help others, help he regrets he could not give his father.
“I used to live in Holland and I traveled a lot through Europe but when my father took sick from cancer I came home. He was an alcoholic, he had lots of demons, if I knew then what I know now things might have been different , I would have been able to help him,” Andy told the Sunday World.
“When I came home I decided to get my degree in criminal psychology. I got a job in the prison service and that’s how I became involved in addiction and trauma.
“Helping people was just, and still is, a brilliant feeling. I knew then deep inside that was what I wanted to do. It helped me too.”
The 42-year-old Belfast man achieved one of his dreams when he set up Fall Up, an advice and support service where he offers one-to-one counseling sessions to those who seek his help.
“Everyone is traumatised in one way or another, some people just handle it better than others. If someone comes in here with a frown on their face, I will do everything. I can help them leave with a smile, a more positive attitude, to make the world a better place for them.
“That’s why I set up Fall Up in 2019. I came up with the name because people fall down but they can always fall back up.
“People can turn things around, they can bounce back like being on a trampoline if they want and get the help they need. People need to know that you can always turn things around, people need to know there is always hope. Fall Up is my baby, it makes my world go around.
“I know how to help people. There has not been one person to come here that I have not helped. I have a knack for this and I enjoy every minute of it.
“It’s a great feeling to know you have made a difference – it’s a bit like karma for me because I did things in the past that I am not proud off but I turned it around.”
Last week’s statistics come as no shock to Andy who says more government funding is needed and more residential facilities should be made available.
“I get people contacting me about residential care but there is just not enough places available. I advise them the best I can and point them in the right direction for help but for me that’s not enough.
“One of my dreams is to set up a residential home but that will be hard to do because it would require a lot of money and funding that is hard to get.
“All the money assigned goes to the same organizations year after year so I know it will be hard but you never know, if you had told me a few years back that I would be sitting in my own office running Fall Up I would have laughed so never say never, setting up a residential is something I aspire to do, I want to make a difference.”
Trauma is often the reason people turn to drink and drugs as a coping mechanism, Andy says.
“Addiction and trauma go hand in hand. People take drugs for instance because they want to get whatever their trauma is out of their heads,” he said.
“It can be abuse, grief – all sorts of reasons. One person may suffer trauma after being hit by a bus someone else might suffer trauma because they didn’t get a pony for Christmas. That might sound silly but not getting the pony could be someone’s trauma, it is just to show how different people are affected and how different they can react.
“Some people start gambling, others turn to crime, addiction is all about escapism but it is something people can beat with the right help. They need people to be positive, to encourage them not run them down by pointing out their weight loss or the fact they look like they have been pulled through a hedge backwards.
“Positivity is the key – addicts should not be stigmatised.”
Andy says he is now busier than ever, the pandemic adding to his list of clients.
“The pandemic has made things worse. We have all been through a difficult time, we also have the ability and responsibility to heal ourselves and each other by looking after ourselves and each other – positive coping mechanisms instead of negative.
“Together and individually we have the power to make things better for everyone,” he added.
Anyone wishing to contact Andy for help can contact him via email on email@example.com or via mobile on 07936 441875.
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