Pubdate: Sat, 04 Sep 2004
Source: Fort McMurray Today (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 Fort McMurray Today
Author: Kiran Malik-Khan


When Julian Madigan succumbed to the drug culture as a teenager, he
wasn't sure he would ever emerge from the black hole that had
enveloped his life.

A star athlete in his native Ireland, who excelled in swimming and
running, Madigan first tried hash at 14, and it wasn't until five
years later in December 1994 that he started on the road to recovery.

Madigan, who is now 29 years old, has penned his experiences in The
Agony of Ecstasy (Poolbeg) -- a number one bestseller in Ireland in

The family migrated to Canada in 1999 and eight months ago Madigan
moved to Fort McMurray from Calgary, working as a welder for a local

He recalled trying weed, for the first time in Dublin.

"I was just tired of drinking, when I first saw weed, I thought it
should be fun and interesting," he said.

That led to sampling a veritable feast of illegal drugs: hash, acid,
LSD, ecstasy and speed.

He was aware of being trapped in the jaws of a lethal predator, as he
wrote: "I was falling into a deep hole. This wasn't a comfort zone
anymore, it was more like a prison. And I wanted to escape."

And escape he did, thanks to the help of his father, Gerry Madigan,
who began to keep tabs on his son's whereabouts. He also penned a few
chapters in the book.

Contrary to popular belief, Madigan says he wasn't trying to mask any
personal pain by doing drugs.

"I think it's just finding a crowd that does (drugs)," he said. "My
life was great before I got involved. I had a great family, girls, my
sports, aspirations and dreams."

As an elite swimmer, one of those dreams was to reach the Olympics.
Ever since he was six, both local and international coaches were
confident, Madigan could emerge as an extraordinary swimmer.

"I had a lot of positive reinforcement," he said. "The Olympics were
always the number one focus in my life. I think I robbed myself from
something that I could have had.

"My biggest regret is to lose those years," he added. "I was very
goal-oriented and competitive. As you get older, you realize the
talent you were born with. I'm not saying, I could've won the gold,
but I could have made it to the (Olympics)."

Now, Madigan is married with a toddler daughter. He has been
conducting seminars for the past seven years, speaking to teens and
adults about the downfalls of the dreaded addiction -- addressing over
a million people so far. He visits schools and universities doing

During a two-week tour, Madigan averages 300 to 400 e-mails from
students inspired by his talks to never try, or quit drugs, as well as
adults with the same inspirations.

In his message to teenagers, Madigan emphasizes think before making
choices. Drugs curb the ability to think rationally.

"If you are stoned, you are not thinking straight," he said. "Surely
it's your life, I can't stop you but all I ask is to stop and think
and what you are willing to risk -- family, friends, talents, for a
small high. The rippling effects of some drugs (done as teenagers)
last till the early 30s. I guarantee one day, you will ask yourself why?"

Teens, he continued, realize during their late 20s or 30s they sold
themselves short.

Madigan has touched many lives by sharing his experiences through his
inspirational talks.

"I know I'm helping them make the right choice," he added. "I don't
know of a greater high."
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