An Honest Look Into Drug Addiction

Anne Buckley, perhaps more than anyone, understands the trap of addiction. Having lost 17 years of her life to her battles with heroin and methadone, the 41 year old has collaborated with TV3 to create a new documentary My War On Drugs: True Lives which airs tonight at 9pm.

“The documentary is about my life story, my journey in and out of addiction and living in a poverty-stricken area,” says the Rialto native.

Buckley has reformed her life and is now about to complete her degree in Media Production Management in Ballyfermot College, having last year obtained a diploma in Journalism. She’s using her new skills to highlight an area of growing concern.

The show focuses not only on her own story, but looks at the new National Drugs Strategy and creating a health-led approach to helping addicts.

“I basically did this to show that how the public perceives people in addiction is damaging to the mentally ill person … it’s preventing them from reaching out for help because they don’t trust because of the perception towards them.”

Buckley sees rehabilitation and compassion as the solution for addicts, having spent seven years on methadone herself. The opioid is used to wean heroin-users off the harder drug over the course of a few months, yet many undergoing the treatment end up dependent on it for years.

“The methadone clinics, I think that they were set up for a short term basis but they ended up being long term,” says Buckley, who described the treatment as leaving her “like a zombie.”

“It isolates you, it actually cuts you off, away from your family, cuts you more away from yourself. We need to put the money into the beds and the treatments instead of parking people off onto more drugs.”

She attributes her move to finally become clean to her counsellors in the Keltoi drug rehabilitation centre and now, 5 years later, is moving forward in her life and career with renewed vigour.

The documentary came about after she had worked her way into an internship with RTÉ’s Prime Time Investigates.

“I got the opportunity through when I appeared on the Claire Byrne Live show in 2016, I was only on it for 30 seconds. Kim Bartley, the documentary maker saw me and asked to meet me, I stood out to her so that’s how I got involved and I got to meet her.”

Buckley and Bartley, who has directed documentaries on everything from the attempted Venezuelan coup of 2002 to the 2011 Irish Presidential election, spent two years working on the project. A lot of work was obviously put in to not only tell Anne’s story, but also to try to create a better environment for young people finding themselves trapped in addiction now.

“Kids are selling tablets as the new way of money making … they’re not addicts. They’re kids that dont take drugs, so, its not addicts selling to addicts now. Where as in my day there was some compassion there. It’s a brutal, brutal game now.”

My War On Drugs: True Lives airs on TV3 tonight at 9pm.

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