Thomas Delaney certainly knows something about drug use. He knows the tricks and deceits that go along with it, the beautiful moments of high and the life threatening lows. He knows very well the secrets, lies and promises that come with being in relation to a master that can convince you it knows all of the questions and has all the answers you will ever need. He has lived through drug use and has almost died through it.
Thomas’ talk is frank, open and honest. Brutally honest in parts. Thomas recounts his personal history not just as a shocking account of childhood fear, suffering and lack of safety, but as an introduction to an understanding of why he, and perhaps many others, turn to substances as a way of managing unbearable pain. He describes how an attachment to drugs can, at least superficially, solve the horrendous problem of being in desperate need of care and love, but of being fearful of seeking these things from other human beings.
His account of self retreat, self reliance and denial of need is honest, moving and deeply important. He robustly challenges and confronts the predominant model of drug use as an illness, a disease, and as a moral failing on the part of the individual. He firmly contextualises drug use within the social, political and interpersonal lives that we all have little choice in leading. Above all he reminds us that drug use is for many, if not all, a sane and sensible response to unbearable circumstances. He knows that recovery is possible.
His talk offers an extremely powerful roadmap from dependency on drugs to dependency on others. Recovery here is not about a move to some fantastical and idealised position of independence, but to the ordinary, messy business of healthy and life giving dependency on other human beings. This talk is powerful, moving and extremely timely, and Thomas Delaney is an inspired and deeply inspiring speaker.
“Thomas is both eloquent and honest in his very engaging and individual presentation style. In addition, his wide array of key messages on the pitfalls that lie within drug and alcohol abuse were sophisticated and illuminating to this attentive audience. The students found his input very educational and the question and answer session that followed offered additional layers of understanding to a topic that is both ever evolving and complex in nature. Based on this recent input from Thomas to our undergraduate students I would highly endorse him as a key communicator and an individual who carries an inspirational and optimistic message into an arena that is often fatalistic and bleak. He is a bright shining light and his words will last long in the memories of our student social workers.”– Brian Coyle, Practice Learning Co-ordinator, Caledonian University
"What really affected us was Thomas's photos prior to his Recovery - harrowing. Thomas is a very eloquent speaker and the visuals of his state pre-rehabilitation are so strong. He's young enough to engage with our youth who are at risk themselves, but also mature enough to engage with all ages - a great combination."– Gill Last, Training Manager, The Ridge SCIO
"It was an absolute pleasure to have Thomas join our class at Barnsley college. He explained his story with such emotion it was moving to hear of his trauma and drug abuse and how that left him both physically and mentally ill. Thomas offered the learners chance to ask some questions; this was a really valuable part of the session as it became more real and personal. My learners asked some very personal questions and Thomas always managed to answer fully and truthfully, this then encouraged the learners to trust him and feel confident to ask further questions. He sent such a powerful message during the session around the dangers of drug use, so much so this encouraged two of my learners to come forward and discuss their health which has led to us putting effective support in place and it was all thanks to Thomas."– Emma Harvey, Tutorial Team Leader for Childcare and Education Professions, Barnsley College
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