Limerick man graduating from a life of addiction

Southill native John McMahon who is recovering from addiction.

WHEN John McMahon was 39 years old he “just wanted to die”.

The Southill native was on the way to fulfilling that ambition by feeding an alcohol and cocaine addiction while weighing more than 19 stone.

After a long period of being clean and sober, following a detox programme, John was beset with massive personal problems and returned to active addiction in late 2019.

Eight months later, he suffered a heart attack that came very close to fulfilling his wish.

“I remember being in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and my mother was stroking my hand saying ‘please don’t die’.”

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“From that moment I got an immense feeling that I would never abuse my body again. That was the start of my coming back,” the father-of-two told the Limerick Post.

With support from his dad Joseph, his mother Breda, along with an AA sponsor, the psychology service at University Hospital Limerick, and a close friend “who gives me a boot up the backside when I’m being negative”, John has not only remained in recovery but he has recently graduated from university.

He has also signed up for a new degree course and lost four and a half stone in weight.

“I was at the bottom of the barrel and I’ve managed to pick myself up. I want people who are suffering to know that if I can do it, anybody can. I’m nothing special but I’ve got my life back.

“I didn’t want to die – it was drugs and alcohol making me depressed. I had no self-esteem at all. But I’m mentally strong in the journey I’m on now and I will never – ever – touch drink or drugs again.”

Now living in Wallerswell on Roxboro Road, John was preparing for his UL graduation ceremony when he spoke with the Limerick Post.

The graduation is for his diploma in drugs and alcohol studies. He has also secured a place in LIT on a degree course in Arts in Community and Substance Abuse, which starts in September.

Speaking about the damage cocaine in particular is causing in Limerick, John says: “It’s in every walk of life, including sports. People have no idea how big this is.”

John hopes to take up a career in the field of addiction treatment when he graduates from LIT.

“I want to give something back and I want people to know that no matter how bad things look, there is a way out.”