A five-minute conversation could have saved a lot of pain: GAA star on addiction battle

A rising star in the GAA has spoken of his battle with addiction and how he is fortunate to have had a second chance.

UTV's Up Close: Last Orders explores the devastating impact alcohol has on society and individuals in Tuesday night's programme.

Domhnall Nugent is a giant in Antrim GAA, playing for St John's. He believes, it was his exploits on the Gaelic pitches which, to an extent, helped him shield his addiction from others.

"I was good at hiding things, I was good at telling lies," he said.

His life spiralled out of control and at the age of just 22 when he found himself sleeping rough.

"I was just thinking what am I going to do, I'd lied to everybody, borrowed money off people, didn't give it back, trying to remember the lies you told people - it was tragic," he said.

One night Domhnall walked to his granny's house and ended up sleeping under the home's porch. He woke, cold and shivering to find his granny and uncle staring down at him, in tears and fearful for what addiction had made of him.

"The look on their faces, it was pure fear whether I was going to live or how my life would end up.

"I was definitely suicidal."

Domhnall said he drank anything he could get his hands on.

"It's like waking up in the morning and wanting a coffee. That is the way I was with the drink and cocaine. Something to get me a shot, a hit to try and get on with my day."

He said given the perception people had of him, they may not have thought his addiction was at the level it was.

Around £1billion is spent on health care related to alcohol every year. Police reckon around 30% of all victim-based crime is related to drinking - with many incidents involving violent crimes such as assaults and robberies.

And over 350 deaths last year in NI were related to drinking. However, many believe deaths indirectly related to drinking - such as cancers and road deaths for example - are much higher.

For the programme Sarah Clarke visited rehabilitation facility Cuan Mhuire and saw how it helps people fight addiction and piece their lives back together.

Domnhall was one of 12 men to have checked in back in 2019. Today only half of them are still alive.

"That is shocking.. that is so, so scary. It shows you how real this is."

He believes a distressing episode in his childhood sent him down the dark path of addiction.

He said a short five minute conversation could have helped put him on the road to recovery.

"I could maybe not have put myself through that all that pain and abuse I put my body through."

He added: "I am just so lucky I had a second chance."

Also in the programme Alex Best, former wife of footballer George, talks about her experience with the Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend.

"He could be a happy, laughy drunk, a jokey drunk, it depended on his mood on a certain day," she said.

There were periods she said, he would go long periods without drinking.

"And he would get up in the morning scrap his hair back, and I could see in his eyes he was going on a bender. And I thought, here we go again.

She speaks about how George broke her arm after pushing him.

"Since he has gone, all I want to remember is the good times. All the bad stuff is just forgotten, I just remember him for the lovely, lovely man he was," she said.

She also speaks for the first time of her own drink-drive conviction in 2019. She was found to be three times over the limit.

Up Close: Last Orders is on UTV on Tuesday, May 31 at 10.45pm. You also catch up with the programme here.

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