‘I think he felt he was Superman. He got through the time he tried to kill himself. He was always high risk.’

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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In what was, without question, one of the most emotionally charged and poignant interviews on any radio show this year, the devastating effects of addiction to alcohol and drugs, and the fallout they can have on family and loved ones, were laid bare.

Campbell Spray, Motoring Editor of The Independent, fought back the tears as he recalled the life and tragic death of his son, Daniel, on April 9th, 2015, to the horror of addiction.

“I think he felt he was Superman. He had got through the time he tried to kill himself. He had taken the same amount of heroin as his friend, a year before that. He used to go mountain biking with no helmet. He was always high risk. And I felt he probably thought, ‘yeah, I can celebrate my friends death or memory, I can still take these things.’ But he couldn’t.”

Daniel was 38 when he died, the eldest child of Campbell and his first wife, Helen. Through his life, he struggled with addiction, alcohol, various types of drugs. He died a year to the day after a close friend of his died, also through a drug overdose, in an act Campbell feels was, in some ways, a reckless celebration of sorts.

Campbell’s memory of his son, as a man, a human being, is overwhelmingly positive. He was the life and soul of any party, he “lit up any room” he entered, and was loved by all. But something in him was not quite right, and when he discovered drugs, it was the beginning of a downward spiral.

However, in his late 30s, it looked like Daniel might be emerging from the worst of the addiction problems. His birthday, in early 2015, was a joyous time for Campbell, as he felt his son was on the road to recovery.

“Marcus and myself and Daniel went down to a pub, as probably sons and father should do, shared a pint, and it was great. It was a real, real birthday. A few days later, he went home, I saw him off at the airport, and I was so pleased. I had my son back.”

Campbell recalls how “it had all been worth all the tears”, as he saw his son finally get on the straight and narrow. The difficult times, the heartbreak for Campbell and his former wife, Helen, Daniel’s mother, looked like they were finally coming to an end. However, within months, the devastating news came through.

“The next time I saw Daniel was in the company of an undertaker, on the anniversary of his friend’s death a year before. Daniel had taken a lot of heroin and other drugs and didn’t wake up.”

He was found, very cold, in his boxer shorts, on the floor of his flat. It was particularly tragic, as they had arranged to go on holidays together that summer, Campbell had written him a letter, and was looking forward to cementing their relationship.

“Just seeing his body there with the undertaker. Flipping that letter in his coffin, kissing his very cold, cold head. It was so sad.”

A powerful interview, and well worth listening back to in full by clicking here.

Anybody affected by issue raised in this article should contact The Samaritans on freecall 116 123

© The Listener 2016

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