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My struggle with drugs and alcoholism

Time:2017-07-11 11:36wine - Red wine life health Click:

drugs alcoholism Struggle

“My wish is to stay sober forever but once an addict, forever an addict, so, I need to keep alert because a relapse can happen any time and each is worse than before. I cannot tell when I will totally be off the drugs but it is about keeping busy,” says Brian Kahuka, who, for several years has fought addiction to alcohol and reliance on drugs. Today, he is focusing on recovery.

Although he still takes marijuana and smokes cigarettes “on the rare occasions when he feels down”, the 32-year-old swears he has given up the bottle and thinks one day, he will be free from all drug use.

One of the reasons he says he gets relapses is because when he sobers up, he realises he has lost many things due to addiction. He sold his property including household electricals and clothes, missed out on several job opportunities, and lost all respect from family. This misery eventually sets him spiraling backward to the drugs and alcohol. Kahuka started taking marijuana in Senior Two convinced by his friends that it would make him a big footballer. He explains; “I did not really get any better at the game. Instead, I got hooked on the drug and also started smoking around the same time too.”

At first, he says the smoking and marijuana was harmless; he still attended school and led an ordinary life. Not after too long though, he was escaping from school to get access to the drugs and was resultantly expelled from different schools.

According to Bridget Kezaabu, his sister; “We thought he was just being stubborn like other boys that age. He acted normal so we did notice he was using marijuana. He was able to successfully complete his A’Level without any incident.”

The switch to alcohol
After Senior Six, he joined Makerere University where he pursued Develop ment Economics.

He graduated in 2009 with First Class honours and got a job at the Ministry of Finance as an economist.
Kahuka’s drug consumption was not interfering with his life in anyway. “When I got a professional job, I substituted the marijuana with alcohol in an effort to be classy like my colleagues, but I continued smoking.

Unfortunately, I was a binge drinker right away, with no limits. I would drink until I lose my senses,” recounts Kahuka.

His work suffered first. “I would drink and forget that I had to work the next day. I was always late for work even before the probation period was over. I would leave office before official closing hours,” he says. He had also enrolled for a Master’s degree at Makerere but would always pass by Wandegeya for a “small drink” before heading to class. Kahuka says, “I was always too late for the lectures so I depended on photocopied notes from friends. I gave up after one semester after realising I could not catch up.”

Rehabilitation attempts
In 2011, he got a one month break from work and his boss and mother took him to a rehabilitation centre. He was transferred to Ministry of Justice as an economist but the problem worsened.

“I worked there for eight months until I felt guilty for getting a salary I was not working for,” he says. “My addiction worsened. I felt unfit for the job because all I thought about was alcohol, I sold all my property to buy it.”

Between 2012 to 2016, Kahuka has been in and out of several rehabilitation centres including Butabika Hospital, Hope and Beyond, among others whose names he cannot recall. He would sometimes walk to the centre himself, but other times, he was taken there by his mother, with the help of police.

In the rehabs
Rehabilitation centres charge between Shs30,000 to Shs50,000 every day. Kahuka says different centres have different programmes and ways of operation. He recalls a Christian-based one where they only prayed, got counselling and kept busy with church work.

In others, Kahuka and the other addicts are counselled, given detoxifying drugs, given occupational and cognitive therapy to help them become better people but he says it starts with the victim accepting that they have a problem.
The most traumatising thing for him at the centres is the fact that addicts are mixed with people with mental problems.

“Also, as an addict, there are times when you are arrested purely out of malice. The way we are handled during arrests is very appalling and when we get to the rehab, we are put with people who are mad. This really bothers me because I only want to be loved and understood.”

He, nonetheless, acknowledges that getting off the addiction is a gradual process with love and support from the family, counsellors and former addicts.
He says, “When one wants to recover, they first acknowledge that they have a problem and need help. At the rehab centres, the drug intake is less because they are not allowed although some sneak them in.”

Worst moment
In 2015, Kahuka had managed to secure himself a job in the UAE but was arrested for being drunk. “I went to Abu Dhabi as a driver and was arrested for being drunk and in possession of alcohol yet I had no drinking license. I was told to pay a fine of 2000DHs (about Shs1.95m) or be in jail for 20 days.”

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