Ballymena teen who ‘smoked 15 cannabis joints a day’ in campaign against drugs
Aaron Kinney, 16, is urging other youngsters not to repeat his mistakes
A Ballymena teenager who started smoking cannabis aged 12 is warning others not to use drugs as a coping mechanism.
Aaron Kinney, 16, was left feeling paranoid to leave his house after smoking 15 joints a day.
He has now kicked the habit and turned his life around. He has made a film with young people’s charity Fixers to show the effects the drug had on his life as a warning to others to “get out of the fog” and “lose the smoke”.
Aaron began using cannabis recreationally until a personal tragedy saw him smoking more.
“My uncle died and I couldn’t cope. He was taking heroin and it killed him. We were really close and I was devastated,” he explained.
“Because I was so young I didn’t know about his addiction. I only found out a few years later when I started asking questions. It was hard to deal with.
“I missed him and couldn’t seem to talk to anyone so I smoked to make myself happy. As I got older my depression got worse, so I smoked more.”
Aaron found himself using larger amounts to get the same high.
“It got to a point where I would be smoking 15 joints every day around the age of 15. I felt my mind slipping away from me,” Aaron recalled.
“I never wanted to go out, because I was feeling so anxious and paranoid all the time. I just wanted to stay in and smoke and I would spend weeks at a time indoors.
“All my money was going to buy smoke so I never had any cash, but the cycle meant I needed to find some to buy more weed and that sometimes meant taking my mum’s money and doing other things I’m not proud of.”
He added: “I fell out with my family because of the things I was doing and I was failing at school.”
‘I didn’t like who I was anymore.”
He says the turning point came when the police got involved when he was 15. He then got help from a doctor, was referred for counselling and was able to use a self-help service for drug addiction.
Since quitting cannabis, Aaron said he has noticed positive changes and will be starting a hairdressing course at college in September next year.
“I’m a lot happier now. I’ve got new friends now who don’t smoke or do drugs, and I’m dealing with my issues,” Aaron commented.
Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK by providing them with resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.
The charity has helped more than 19,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community on issues such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, suicide or transphobia.