This week on The Jennifer Zamparelli Show, Jen spoke with Westmeath footballer Luke Loughlin about his journey through addiction and recovery. Listen back above.

27-year-old Luke Loughlin from Mullingar is known for playing with Westmeath, but off the pitch he has struggled with some major personal battles.

"I'm a recovering alcoholic and a recovering drug addict, and I have no problem saying that because I feel like that's who I am now and that's making me the person who I am," he told Jen.

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Discussing the root of his issues, Loughlin told Zamparelli that he never met his birth father and says that his perspective on this led him to feeling out of place. Growing up he felt he was always searching for something, whether it be attention or something to cope with feelings of rejection.

As he got older, the Mullingar man says those anxieties and fears grew, and he began to feel insecure around his looks and his body. By the time he reached the age of 13, he was looking for coping mechanisms in all the wrong places.

"When I drank that first time, it made me... I can't describe the feeling. It made me someone else, it really made me someone else. It made me confident, made me able to talk to girls - it just changed everything."

"I loved that person, I absolutely loved it. It escalated from there. I had always, even up until I was drinking recently, been chasing that first feeling of the first time I drank, and I never got it."

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By the time he was 16, Loughlin was consistently gambling with friends, which soon led to a cocaine habit. Despite the alcohol and drug use, though, it was his addiction to gambling at the age of 19 that led him to staying with family in New York - where gambling is illegal.

However, he soon discovered that "your problems follow you everywhere".

"I always knew I had a problem but I was always able to throw it under the carpet or patch over stuff or talk my way out," he told Jen, "I was so good at manipulating situations to suit myself. I could people please for one person or I could be assertive with another. It was all acting. When I got home I would be exhausted from putting on a show all the time."

During one fateful match against Down, Loughlin pulled his hamstring and decided then and there that he would be going "on a mad one". The bender lasted two months and left the footballer lying in bed, feeling every bit of his misery.

"I'd be lying in bed and I'd be picking dates that I was going to kill myself. I'd have dates picked, and the dates would come - I'd be able to get on with life for a while - and the dates would come and I'd be too afraid, obviously, I was terrified. So I thought 'alright, I'll just drink myself to death, that's it, I'll just party until I can't go on anymore'. That's the way I was living."

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Despite family and friends asking him to get help "hundreds of times", the footballer says he would always be able to manipulate the situation or push those people away altogether.

"I always wanted to stop, always. I would always convince myself every time would be different. I could give up a drink maybe for a month - a month would be long for me, now - but I would reward myself at the end of that month thinking 'I deserve this now, I did well for that month'."

The 27-year-old's recovery journey started in Cuan Mhuire - Ireland's largest voluntary provider of addiction treatment services and residential rehabilitation, which he says was a great escape.

Despite knowing he needed help, he says he "ghosted" through the first few weeks and planned to con people into thinking he was recovered so that he could get out and get back to drinking.

Thankfully, hearing the stories of other residents in the centre inspired Luke to begin dealing with his problems head on.

To hear Luke's full interview with Jennifer on RTÉ 2FM, listen back above.

If you have been affected by issues raised in this story, please visit: www.rte.ie/helplines.