Former heroin addict tells his story after 8 months of sobriety - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 21 November 2020

Former heroin addict tells his story after 8 months of sobriety

 

I chose the wrong path - of drugs and alcohol. I messed up life for myself, my family and friends. Life is so much better without drugs and alcohol.

These are the words of Carlos Kipkoech, 26, who dropped out of Egerton University in his third year of a degree course in criminology. 

Had I kept off alcohol, my life would be different. Drug abuse caused me the worst pain imaginable,” Kipkoech, who is recovering from years of heroin abuse, told the Nation.

He started taking alcohol in 2012 at the age of 18 while in Form Four and could not stop after slipping into depression following his mother’s death.

“The death of my mother was a big blow. She was the family’s sole breadwinner. She left behind a three-year-old sibling. I was very stressed while writing my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams at Mbita High School in Homa Bay County but I managed to score a C+ and joined Egerton University in 2014,” he said.

Kipkoech abused miraa, alcohol and bhang.

“I then started doing hard drugs like heroin at age 23 and my life started to go downhill. Nothing but drugs was important to me. I was on a path to total destruction,” he said.

“My addiction to heroin took priority over everything I did. I ‘died’ many times due multiple overdoses."

Rehabilitation

In April this year, however, Kipkoech found help at Taraji House Rehabilitation Centre, courtesy of Nakuru-based Youth Bila Noma organisation, and has been sober for about eight months now.

He stayed at Taraji in Murunyu, Bahati, Nakuru, from April to July and was able to kick the habit.

But the treatment was tough, including withdrawal symptoms such as stomach upsets, sweating, a running nose, body weakness, diarrhoea and loss of appetite.

While noting that drug addicts have serious eating disorders and mental health issues, he says he weighed 40kg when he was taken to the rehabilitation centre but is now 30 kilograms heavier. 

"I decided to seize the opportunity to put my life back on track, I was tired of hurting people,” he says.

“I thank God and the people who loved me when I couldn't love myself. I would probably be dead now. I’m alive because Youth Bila Noma gave me new hope in life. I don’t feel dead inside anymore. I’m grateful, happy, and free,” he said.

“The treatment changed everything for me. I realised the dangers of drugs. We shared aspirations, drive and motivation. The friendships made all the difference,” he says.

“I’m now rebuilding relationships with my family. I am rebuilding trust. I will continue to work towards cleaning up my life. I want to educate young people about what worked for me and how to conquer drug addiction.

"I want to go back to the university, accomplish my dream of becoming a criminologist and save many youths from drug addiction, I don’t want to see any student experience the pain I went through."

Kipkoech has been working hard to stay sober but says he needs a job to jumpstart his life as he makes arrangements to return to school.

“I want to keep poultry to guard against a relapse but I lack funds,” he says.

Support is key

Kipkoech urges youths to shun drug abuse but regrets that community attitudes towards addicts are negative.

“They view drug addicts as rejects with no purpose in life, not knowing that addicts are talented singers, footballers, artists and painters and that what they lack is support from the society,” he says.

Youth Bila Noma Programme Coordinator Rukiya Ahmed said the organisation has transformed the lives of many youths in Nakuru town slums.

“Many youths have talents that can secure them jobs [and keep them from abusing drugs for whichever reason]” she says

Ms Anne Kamau, a senior counsellor at Egerton University, noted that depression among students results from stress due to projects, relationships, drug abuse, conflicts, lack of fees and poverty.

“We have support groups through which we conduct counselling. Some students need a shoulder to cry on when their family members get sick or die. Some need help with their studies,” she says.

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