IRISH COMEDIAN PJ Gallagher has come out in support of the decriminalisation of drugs.
A growing number of people in Ireland and around the world are supporting the idea that drug abuse and addiction should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal issue.
The ‘War on Drugs’ has been called a failure due to the fact that the black market continues to thrive but addicts are thrown in jail, demonised and mocked.
Drug Kingpins continue to make millions while the ordinary people who have fallen into the trap of drug addiction are refused any real help.
Speaking to the Irish-based organisation Ana Liffey, which was established in the 1980’s as a response to the emerging heroin epidemic in Ireland, Mr Gallagher supported the campaign to keep people #SaferFromHarm.
He made reference to the failures we have made as a country to help addicts to recover and keep themselves safe.
“Putting someone in jail for having drugs for personal use isn’t going to do anything for anybody, because when someone comes out of jail, they are straight back on the drugs.
There has to be something that breaks the chain.”
The actor, comedian and radio presenter spoke candidly about ways we as a nation might try and help those addicted to drugs, putting it simply: “Compassion.”
“[We have to] try and find a way of treating human beings like they are human beings, and say ‘You are not a criminal, you have a problem, and we really want to try and help’.
“You’re looking at drug addicts and what you’re really looking at is people who have an illness, people who are sick, the same way you look at people who have any addiction problems, and those people need help.”
“Putting someone in jail for having drugs for personal use isn’t going to do anything for anybody. When someone comes outta jail they’re straight back on to drugs. There has to be something that breaks the chain."@pjgallagher on why we need to keep people #SaferFromHarm. pic.twitter.com/V8J2smB5yg
— AnaLiffey (@AnaLiffey) August 2, 2019
He also spoke of the stereotypes surrounding addiction, and how it is unfair to point the finger at the working class when drug addiction can affect everyone regardless of their background.
“There’s this great myth that drugs is this working class problem, working class people get into drugs and middle class people make the odd “mistake”, and that’s a load of bollocks.
“Some people fall foul of it and others get to walk away from it.
“I’m lucky, I never got into it, and it’s luck.”
Mr Gallagher went on to tell a personal story of how drugs use has affected his life, and how he saw first-hand how the country failed his friends. In a solemn and honest tone, he said:
“[There were] two lads that I used to know that aren’t around anymore. I remember these desperate attempts to try and stop [using drugs]. And I mean desperate attempts-- out of control attempts. Finding GPs that would give them prescriptions that weren’t worth a sh**. Nobody seemed to have the expertise, there didn’t seem to be anywhere to go, there didn’t seem to be anyone for them to talk to.
Us being us, you just make it kind of a joke. It was funny for a long time. Laughing at these lads, who are friends of yours because you don’t know what else to do.
They’re laughing with you. And now they’re not around anymore.
And now it’s not so f*****g funny anymore.
Mr Gallagher joins prevalent Irish voices fighting for decriminalisation, including singer Christy Moore.
If drug abuse has affected you or someone you know, or if you would like to find out more about the Safer From Harm campaign, you can find their website here.