Support for Addiction and Prevention in Africa

David Kimoi

When I was thirteen, friends would make fun of me if I didn’t have a drink. I just gave in because it was easier to join the crowd.I was really unhappy and just drank to escape my life. I went out less and less, so started losing friends. The more lonely I got, the more I drank. I was violent and out of control. I never knew what I was doing. I was ripping my family apart.Kicked out of my home at age sixteen, I was homeless and started begging for money to buy drinks. After years of abuse, doctors told me there was irreparable harm to my health.I was only sixteen but my liver was badly damaged and I was close to killing myself from everything I was drinking.

By the time I was in my mid-twenties I was locked in to drinking.A lot of my first concerns were about drinking, and everything else came second. I started to realize that when I did not have a drink I had a sense of panic and I would start shaking.If I had to go without a drink, I would go through shakes and sweats. I couldn’t go for more than a few hours without a drink.

This past year I have gone to work drunk, blacked out in clubs and bars and can’t remember getting home. Ashamedly I slept with someone and could not even remember the person coming home with me until we bumped into each other the next day.

I have destroyed two relationships because I hurt them so much through my drinking, but I put drinking first. My family are so hurt that their daughter is killing herself for apparently no reason.When I went to quit drinking, I realized that alcohol had taken to my body in such a way that I couldn’t stop. I would shake like I was going to break, I would start to sweat, I could not think until I had another drink. I could not function without it.

I spent the next eight years in and out of detox and hospitals, trying to figure out what the hell happened to me, how was it possible I couldn’t quit. It was the worst and longest nightmare.

My addiction built steadily and, before I realized it, I had become a morning as well as an afternoon drinker. I decided to stop drinking. I lay awake most of that night, and by noon the next day every bone in my body ached. In a blind panic, I nervously poured a glass full of gin, my hands shaking so violently that I spilled half the bottle. As I gulped it down, I could feel the agony gradually lessening. Then I finally knew the terrible truth: I was hooked. I couldn’t quit.

Experience with Ecstasy

At a rave party, I saw a guy who had stuffed himself with Ecstasy, repeat for hours: ‘I am an orange, don’t peel me, I am an orange, don’t peel me.’ Another guy thought he was a fly and wouldn’t stop hitting his head against a window.But as soon as you start, you think people who advise you to stop are idiots. You start to believe you have found something great and others must not try to tell you the contrary. When you start liking Ecstasy, it’s too late, you’re sunk.

Luckily, I am alive, but I’m left with the days, months and years after the trauma. I have to deal with what it’s done to me for my whole life—I’ve been experiencing everything, you name it.

“Depression, anxiety, stress, [recurring] nightmares of the night, and bad headaches were a few things that affected me after I took Ecstasy. I almost died. It only took me one night, a few [Ecstasy] pills, and drinking alcohol. This drug is very fatal, and I’m so thankful I’m alive. I can’t describe how hard it is coping with these nightmares all the time. I wake up in a sweat just thanking God, and being so thankful it’s just another nightmare. I pray that in time the nightmares will fade away. No drug is worth the toll or high.I hear a lot of people talking about Ecstasy, calling it a fun, harmless drug. All I can think is: If they only knew.

“In five months, I went from living somewhat responsibly, while pursuing my dream, to be a person who didn’t care about a thing. And the higher I got, the deeper I sank into a dark, lonely place. When I did sleep, I had nightmares and the shakes. I had pasty skin, a throbbing head, and the beginnings of feeling paranoid, but ignored it all thinking it was normal. Until the night I thought I was dying.

Ecstasy took my strength, my motivation, my dreams, my friends, my apartment, my money, and most of all, my sanity. I worry about my future and my health every day. I have many mountains ahead of me, but I plan to keep climbing because I’m one of the lucky ones.

Jua's story

Heroin cut me off from the rest of the world. My parents kicked me out. My friends and my brothers didn’t want to see me anymore. I was all alone.From the day I started using, I never stopped. Within one week I had gone from snorting heroin to shooting it. Within one month I was addicted and going through all my money. I sold everything of value that I owned and eventually everything that my mother owned. Within one year, I had lost everything.I sold my car, lost my job, was kicked out of my mother’s house, debt, and living on the streets. I lied, I stole, I cheated.

I was raped, beaten, mugged, robbed, arrested, homeless, sick and desperate. I knew that nobody could sustain a lifestyle like that very long and I knew that death was imminent. If anything, death was better than a life as a junkie.Drugs equal death. If you do nothing to get out, you end up dying. To be a drug addict is to be imprisoned. In the beginning, you think drugs are your friend (they may seem to help you escape the things or feelings that bother you). But soon, you will find you get up in the morning thinking only about drugs.Your whole day is spent finding or taking drugs. You get high all afternoon. At night, you put yourself to sleep with heroin. And you live only for that. You are in a prison. You beat your head against a wall, nonstop, but you don’t get anywhere. In the end, your prison becomes your tomb.

My brother's addiction

My older brother is 19 and has been using since he was in high school. I always knew about it, but was too afraid to say anything to my parents about it (i was in middle school at the time).
In the past year it has gotten a lot worse. He has switched from marijuana to other drugs like Oxycontin. My parents eventually found out and tried to get him to go to rehab, which lasted about 3 days.
The only friends that he has are drug addicts too, and this past month his friend died from an overdose. A week after that, he was high on some sort of pain killer that I have never heard of before and crashed his car into a street lamp.
It did a lot of damage and he would have been dead if he had not been wearing his seat belt. Whenever I saw him at the hospital, he finally broke down and promised that he would stop.

He didn't stop and now he has dropped out of college with no job. He has tried stealing my mothers jewelry for money. My mom tells me how its driving a wedge in her marriage with my dad, because she wants to kick him out and my dad won't let her.
She has also become depressed trying to hold all of her feelings inside and needs to start talking to a therapist. What really scares me the most is that i have a younger brother who I see going down the same path.

I have really distanced myself from my older brother and we don't have a close relationship at all, but I wonder if telling him everything that he is doing to our family would make him stop (I have actually never spoken a word to him about his addiction).
I could really use some advice on what to do about him, my younger brother, mom or anything! My family sometimes pretends like there isn't a problem and I don't really have anyone to talk to about this.

Jared Mbua

The best way to convey the truth about drugs is through the words of those who have “been there.” By telling their stories, they can pass on what they have learned so others avoid going down the same path.Share this information with your friends. Drug education saves lives.

My goal in life wasn't was getting high. I was falling in a downward spiral towards a point of no return. Over the years, I turned to cocaine, marijuana and alcohol under a false belief it would allow me to escape my problems. It just made things worse. I had everything, a good job, money, a loving family, yet I felt so empty inside. As if I had nothing. Over twenty years of using, I kept saying to myself, I’m going to stop permanently after using this last time. It never happened. There were even moments I had thought of giving up on life.It started with the weed, then the pills (Ecstasy) and acid, making cocktails of all sorts of drugs, even overdosing to make the rushes last longer. I took copious amounts of these chemicals every day for as long as two years until I had a bad trip one night and went into toxic psychosis. I prayed and cried for this feeling to go away, I had voices in my head, had the shakes and couldn't leave home for six months. I became very withdrawn and thought everyone was watching me. I couldn’t walk in public places. Man! I couldn’t even drive.I ended up homeless and on the streets, living and sleeping in a cardboard box, begging and struggling to find ways to get my next meal.I asked myself if this is rock bottom, and I believe that it was. While observing these homeless people I decided that I had had enough. Yes I wanted drugs, but I realized that I could want life more.
I started using on a lark, a dare from a best friend who said that I was too chicken to smoke a joint and drink a quart of beer. I was fourteen at that time. After seven years of using and drinking I found myself at the end of the road with addiction. I was no longer using to feel euphoria, I was just using to feel some semblance of normality. Then I started having negative feelings about myself and my own abilities. I hated the paranoia. I hated looking over my shoulder all the time. I really hated not trusting my friends.I became so paranoid that I successfully drove everyone away and found myself in the terrible place no one wants to be in—I was alone. I’d wake up in the morning and start using and keep using throughout the day.I was given my first joint in the playground of my school. I’m a heroin addict now, and I’ve just finished my eighth treatment for drug addiction.The teacher in the school I went to would smoke three or four joints a day. He got lots of students to start smoking joints, me included. His dealer then pushed me to start using heroin, which I did without resisting. By that time, it was as if my conscience was already dead.



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