When we think about illegal drug use we tend to think of discarded needles in inner city streets. Visceral images of human devastation and the fallout from drug addiction tend to be inextricably linked, in news reporting and popular culture alike, to the urban environment. Think Adam and Paul, Lenny Abrahamson’s superb debut film. Or the now legendary RTÉ TV series, Love/Hate.

A new documentary airing tonight on RTÉ2 aims to challenge that preconception, focusing on stories from a number of former drug users from small town Ireland.

“Going to school, drugs were all over the place. Hash, weed, tablets. I think that was the main problem. Tablets.”

They were the words of Joe Shanahan, a recovering addict from Nenagh, County Tipperary, who was one of Keelin Shanley’s guests this morning on the Today programme. She was also joined by Geoff Power, who has produced the Rural Addiction documentary through the production company, Midas Productions, for RTÉ.

Rural Addiction is a new observational documentary focusing on the lives of addicts in small-town Ireland and the struggles that go hand-in-hand with addiction. These can include stigmatisation, homelessness, and mental health issues.

The documentary opens with Joe Shanahan showing the viewer to a derelict building in Nenagh, the location of his first experiments with drugs, smoking cannabis at just 12 years of age, under the influence of older boys.

“People have a perception that this is very much an urban issue, but that has not been the case for some time now. Joe is from Nenagh, a small town, which has experienced a more recent influx of the drug in terms of the dealers present on the streets there.”– Documentary maker, Geoff Power.

During the course of the interview, they heard another extract from the documentary featuring Michael, another former drug addict from rural Ireland, which offers an extraordinary insight into the psychology of one man during his dependence on heroin.

“You don’t think of it at the time, that you are on heroin. You just keep going from day-to-day. Getting your fix. Curing itself. Getting rid of your sickness. After a while, it doesn’t work. All you’re left with is a sickness. I was on heroin for seven years. I’m clean one year.” – Michael, former drug addict from rural Ireland.

To listen to Keelin Shanley’s full interview with Geoff Power and Joe Shanahan, click here.

Rural Addiction, produced by Geoff Power for Midas Productions, will be broadcast on RTÉ2 Television, on 25th October & 26th October, at 9.30pm.