Ciarán Carey has been in or around the GAA community nearly all his life, both as a player and later as part of management setups.
The Patrickswell clubman won two Munster titles with The Treaty over an inter-county career spanning fifteen years, between 1989 and 2004.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Carey shed some light on a major talking point within club circles; cocaine use. He's called for it to be tackled before it gets out of hand.
"Cocaine is well and truly alive in every little club in Ireland now," Carey said. "It's frightening where it's after going in the last year and a half, frightening."
Carey says it's a taboo subject but thinks clubs need to recognise the problem. "It's rippling through most villages and parishes in the country," he said.
"I wouldn't be afraid to say that about all codes; soccer, rugby, GAA or whatever. It's gone that serious." The three-time All Star has welcomed initiatives to help stop it.
Grew up idolising Ciarán Carey for his genius on the pitch, but admire him even more now for his deeds as a counsellor off it!
Pulls no punches on addiction, cocaine in the GAA and why it’s never too late to seek help in tomorrow’s @IndoSport @patrickswellgaa @LimerickCLG pic.twitter.com/8t3Ee5ShOB
— Michael Verney (@mlverney) October 15, 2021
The GAA's Efforts On Substance Abuse
The issue of substance abuse is something the GAA are trying to address with their longstanding Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention programme.
They've held a partnership with the HSE since 2006 on the issue, helping to inform clubs of the part they can play in members' choices.
According to figures from the GAA in 2020, over 700 clubs have substance use policies in place, helped by the work of 'Healthy Club Officers' appointed at club and county level.
Carey told the Irish Independent that the actions of some people can have far reaching consequences:
People are trying to normalise it and make it as if it’s somebody having a cigarette outside. ‘Sure go out and have a line instead of a fag, You’re fine, no one will really mind’. That will be disastrous as a nation if we continue to go down that road. Fifteen years ago, you’d be lucky to get a bit of hash in villages and now these places are awash with cocaine and tablets so that’ll tell you how far it’s after coming. It isn’t going away and it’s actually growing.
The GAA have made reference to the HSE Drugs & Alcohol Helpline for those in need. The confidential phoneline can be reached on 1800 459 459 during working hours Monday to Friday.
Speaking on the issue going forward, Carey says what he's witnessed is going to change his outlook on the topic going forward.
"I’m flabbergasted with the way it is allowed to go where it’s going. It doesn’t take a vacation, there’s no Bank Holiday for addictions, so I’m going to do my best to confront it in whatever way I can."