"Where do you come from?”           

 — Reflection on Community and Drugs

“Where do you come from?” is underpinned throughout by three key themes. The first, Community, concerns my childhood and growing up in Ballyfermot, exploring family, neighbourhood, religion, school and teenage journeys, a search for identity and purpose, and my path into social work,  community development and ongoing research and learning. The second theme, Drugs, is about my work, particularly in Dublin’s south inner city, and my involvement with different responses to drug problems, since the 1980s. As a Reflection, the third theme explores key issues and questions arising in the main narrative, within the context of contemporary developments, with particular attention to the need for greater policy and funding support for employing trained community workers, and also the need for new conversations, debate and a radical re-think of drug policies, including alcohol.

New covere 2

Where Do You Come From? is written mainly for people who share  similar background experiences as mine, and for others who study, work and write about drugs, dependency and community work. I hope the book succeeds, without recourse to nostalgia, in offering an authentic connection to public housing as it was in previous decades, and that it does justice to some of the more controversial community events recounted. I also hope this book has relevance for individuals and bodies who make and influence policy decisions, particularly around housing, drugs and community development, and around models of intervention that are built on public health and social knowledge.

Previously, I have written two separate theses — M.Litt (1993) (drugs) and PhD (2009) (alcohol) and although, I draw from this work, I have found that a personal narrative — which I use in this book — to be more instructive, more fulfilling and hopefully more informative. 

“I was an accidental drug worker however, as the issue never featured in my college lectures or practice training, and I never previously expressed any interest in the topic. But the issue did find me, and has stayed with me ever since through a variety of other roles. "

A seminal experience for me in both life and work was in my role as a newly-qualified community social worker in Dublin's South Inner City, 1980–85, where I witnesssed at first hand Ireland’s first heroin-use epidemic, and the arising problems and conflicts. I was an accidental drug worker however, as the issue never featured in my college lectures or practice training, and I never previously expressed a particular interest in the topic. But, surprised as I was, the issue did find me, and has stayed with me ever since through a variety of other roles. It was also obviously, central to my last employed job as coordinator of the local drug and alcohol task force in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (Co. Dublin), (2013–2021). 

In looking to the future, I have concluded that a radical overhal of drug policy is needed. The current dominant narrative centres on whether it is primarily an issue for criminal justice or health and social care. While both perspectives have huge importance, the drug issue — like alcohol — needs to be dealt with in economic and cultural terms, primarily, and as an issue of commodity that, for public health purposes, requires strict regulation and licensing, but not prohibition.

The book Where Do You Come From? helps to explain that conclusion.    this is a version

I am preparing various promotional material with a view to circulating around August / September 2022. Make sure you are on my email list by sending me an email at dbazzie@icloud.com 

 Barry Cullen 2018 | dbazzie@icloud.com | Banner photo -  Wild garden, Marrowbone Lane, Dublin 8.