Pubdate: Sat, 19 Jun 1999
Source: Illawarra Mercury (Australia)
Copyright: Illawarra Newspapers
Author: Lisa Carty


Community Service Will 'Pay' Doctor

Dean Cosgrove has been on a slippery slope to oblivion since he smoked
marijuana when he was 13.

He ``graduated'' to amphetamines and by the time he was 18 he was
injecting heroin regularly.

Dean sold drugs to pay for his habit. He was convicted of two drug
offences but escaped a jail term, instead being ordered to do
community work.

Now, at 21, he is hooked on methadone. He is illiterate, and he is

On paper, Dean is a hopeless case.

But as he tries to turn his life around he has two outstanding things
in his favour - his will, and his family.

It is for these reasons Sydney doctor Siva Navaratnam chose Dean to
benefit from his generous offer of a rapid detoxification program with
the opiate-blocking drug Naltrexone.

Usually the treatment, plus six months worth of Naltrexone and weekly
counselling, costs $6900.

Dean will ``pay'' by performing 800 hours of community service through
a religious organisation near his Kemblawarra home.

Dr Navaratnam figured Dean - who typically sleeps until the early
afternoon - needed to be out and about. And Dean agreed.

Dean was one of 27 Illawarra Mercury readers considered by Dr
Navaratnam and his team.

It was his sister Jenene, 24, who wrote the letter that helped get
Dean the chance of a new life.

It told of her heartbreak at losing her baby brother, the distress and
disruption his addiction had caused her family, and the other friends
she had lost to heroin.

``We grew up in the Housing Commission area of Warrawong with a whole
bunch of other kids, and we had a lot of fun,'' Jenene said.

``They all seemed to start using drugs in their teens and after one of
our group died in a motorbike accident quite a few used heroin.''

Jenene, their mum Julie and stepdad Ivan have been at their wits end
trying to help Dean to help himself.

At times he has had the will but the way has been just too

``I took him to the country to try to detox him and it was
devastating,'' she said. ``He was just curled up in a little ball of

``He couldn't sleep. He couldn't keep anything down. He is loved so
much but it's not enough.''

Their mum Julie, who at 43 has gone back to school at Illawarra Senior
College, said that if Dean could get back to normal, his family could
be normal too.

``The reality is that when they are sticking needles in their arms
they may as well be sticking them in yours,'' she said.

Dean, whose dream is to have a family and work as a cement renderer,
is thrilled at the prospect of finally getting clean.

``It's scary in a way because I am worried it will be painful,'' he

Dean knows the eyes of the Illawarra will be on him. ``I am
determined,'' he said.

Dean will undergo his rapid detoxification on Tuesday.
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