Back in 2018, the family of a 19-year-old Lauren Higgins from Dunmurry, who was suffering from heroin addiction, made a life or death plea to the community to help fund her residential stay at Smarmore Castle in County Louth.
“Reality is if she’s not given a chance to recover she will die”
Sadly, the family had been through free support services in the past and felt let down about the services they were provided to save their daughter’s life.
So they set up a GoFundMe page outlining that “the reality is if she’s not given a chance to recover she will die”.
Councillor Paul McCusker helping the family commented at the time that those who reach out for help for their addiction were facing waiting times of at least six months for access to any kind of rehab.
He added: “It’s a life or death situation. Simple as that. This place is working for Lauren and there’s just no equivalent of it here. This is her only chance of beating heroin.”
After periods of going missing and ending up in risky situations, Lauren returned home and asked her family to help her gain access to rehab.
Having no other option, the family sought immediate treatment to get Lauren the help she needed.
“Here is the window of opportunity that so many others like her have but are failed by the system because when they reach out and ask for the help it’s just not there.”
Private treatment was arranged at our drug rehab in County Louth. However, the family were struggling to pay the fees to give Lauren the right amount of time she needed in rehab to fully recover.
With her grandparents covering much of the cost, the family turned to social media and GoFundMe to raise the remaining funds. Friends, family and the community pulled together to raise £2,825. Fundraiser by Charlene Higgins: Support Lauren in rehab.
An open letter from Lauren appealing for help to stay in treatment
“Hi, my name’s Lauren and I don’t know what to say but here it goes. I am currently in Smarmore private clinic and I am asking to see if someone could help provide financial help to allow me to complete this life-saving treatment that I need.
“I am currently in recovery from my serious addiction and feel I have been let down by the NHS and the drug services in Belfast. I have never been in a place like Smarmore clinic and I am making good progress which my team can confirm.
“I have been in now for twenty-three days and I feel I will be able to turn my life around if giving the chance to complete six weeks in Smarmore.
“I was in Dublin for three months homeless until I reached out to my family for help as I have been using drugs for four years and got myself in a very dark place. So, please help me not to become another statistic.”
It wasn’t enough money, so we stepped in!
The founders of Smarmore Castle came across Lauren Higgins’ story and immediately reached out to the family and offered to pay the remaining balance so that Lauren could successfully complete the programme.
Here at Smarmore Castle, we are not an institution that has a one size fits all addiction programme. We were founded by two pioneers in addiction treatment, who wanted to truly help people across Ireland and the UK.
We understand that private rehabilitation is not accessible by all families and that help from the state can take some time and patience, but we know that we are dealing with life and death here, and our goal is to help people live and recover.
Lauren’s back story
For six years Lauren battled addiction and mental health problems.
Having been let down by the current trust services to access suitable and available rehabilitation Lauren – who had clearly been suffering since the age of 12 – was prescribed medication with no diagnosis.
The family had tried accessing support through free resources and charitable mediums, which had led to an intervention from community addiction teams.
Lauren had followed everything that was asked of her to gain access to a methadone programme and was eventually accepted for a medical detox in Holywell hospital in 2017.
However, sadly, once the drugs had been removed from her system, the hospital asked her to leave after being unable to manage her behaviour.
Shortly after leaving Holywell, Lauren suffered from a period of psychosis.
During this time she thought that the Government was poisoning her through methadone, which led her to stop taking her medication for a few days. Subsequently, she was removed from the programme.
Following this, Lauren experienced a major overdose from heroin and in Belfast City centre and was moved into intensive care.
Just over a year later, Lauren was safely undergoing in-patient treatment at Smarmore Castle.
Throughout her stay the progress was strong and Lauren finally began to feel much better, quoting the treatment she was receiving as “life-saving.” Lauren completed our programme and returned to her family happier and healthier than she had been in a while.
How we can help you
Here at Smarmore Castle, we help people make positive changes daily. We do this through customised and specialist heroin addiction therapies to help people recover from drug or alcohol abuse as well as overcome any dual diagnosis’s that act as triggers in everyday life.
Under the professional direction of our Medical Director, Dr Hugh Gallagher, we have truly made some amazing progress in helping people reclaim their lives from heroin. Since 2015, we have helped over 1,200 people kick their addiction with medically managed detoxes and evidence-based therapies.
If like Lauren, you find yourself struggling from a drug or alcohol addiction, get in touch with us today to see how we can help you.
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Last updated on clinically assessed 23 July, 2021