THE heartbroken family of a young Lenadoon man who lost his battle against drug addiction have paid tribute to a son, brother and friend who was so wholeheartedly “loved” by all who knew him.
Jack Brennan (23) originally spoke to the Andersonstown News back in 2017 about his substance and drug problems, which began at the age of 15. In his poignant, painfully honest interview he praised his family, teachers and social workers who had always tried their best to help him. Later that year in another interview he was looking forward to spending his first drugs free Christmas in years.
Jack died last Monday, January 18.
This week Jack’s brokenhearted mum Lorraine told the Andersonstown News that her son battled throughout his addiction, had wanted to get clean and was due to start a rehabilitation programme on February 1.
“Jack had been through two rehab programmes, he had even taken two months out to detox in America where he stayed with a family and attended various NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings and spent nine and a half weeks trying to get off the drugs. He wanted to stop, he wanted to stop so much but he was tormented, his addiction tormented him, he was crucified with it all the time.
“Jack spent all over Christmas with me and was clean for over three months; he had got a new phone so the dealers couldn’t get at him. Jack begged and pleaded for help; help with his mental health but there is nothing here for kids trying to get help with their addictions.
“Jack got so down at times with the struggles he faced and lack of help from the health service, he got so depressed he self-harmed. I begged for help for him but the answer was always no. He hated himself so much, hated himself for taking the drugs but he felt helpless,” she said.
Lorraine said addiction is an illness which a lot of people don’t fully understand unless they go through it in their own families.
“It needs to be recognised here, there is nowhere here to go for help, help that Jack desperately needed. He was in and out of hospital over 100 times; there is nothing out there."
She continued: “We tried everything, I would sit up all night with him, I would say the Rosary every night for him.
“Jack would call to my house, sometimes during the night, and he would have written me beautiful letters, beautiful poems about being his ‘one and only’, that he was so sorry. He was so intelligent, so smart but the drugs got a hold of him. He kept a journal and he wrote so well in it.
“I just can’t think at the minute, I don’t want Jack’s life to have been for nothing. Jack was a thoughtful, good person and we all loved him.”
Jack’s sister Debbie described her brother’s death as “so tragic and sad”.
“Addiction is an illness. Jack really, really tried. He was loved so much.
“I know we are living through a pandemic but mental health and addiction is a real pandemic too, it is not going anywhere. There are people out there selling drugs and getting away with it.
“Our whole lives have been about Jack, we were always behind him, we just feel robbed. We need more help, support for people going through addiction. There isn’t even a rehab in Northern Ireland.
“Jack always said it was his ambition, his goal to one day open a rehab, to help people get clean. Jack was always very thoughtful, very loving and funny.”
Debbie spoke of how Jack’s white coffin is inscribed with personal messages from family and friends.
“My mum’s house is full of flowers, full of photographs of Jack. He was a person who was constantly battling through but the dealers were constantly at him, they never left him alone.
“Jack was an actual person, a son, a brother and he was so loved.”
Jack Brennan’s Requiem Mass took take place this morning, Thursday, at 10am at St Oliver Plunkett Church in Belfast.