I was brought up in a middle-class home; I lacked nothing and was given all the opportunities one needs to make a success of life. I took this for granted and rebelled against the authority of my parents. At the age of 13 I smoked my first cigarette and got drunk. I was 14 years old when I first smoked dagga. In my second year of high school I started going to nightclubs. I attended nightclubs regularly and when my friend began to deal drugs I assisted him; I was 15 at the time.
In grade 10 I used recreational drugs such as ecstasy, LSD and speed, and by the time I had finished matric I had already used cocaine several times. I would attend night clubs on school nights and then sit in classes the following morning still under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Eventually I stopped attending school altogether and as a result of poor attendance and my bad habits my marks dropped rapidly. I barely managed to pass matric after having to repeat grade 11. I ceased taking part in any extra-mural activities and my relationship with my family broke down completely.
Just prior to finishing high school and in the years that followed I focused on drinking. Three nights a week I would be drunk and I was regularly involved in accidents and fights. I would bully my parents into giving me money so that I could go out, and got very aggressive if they tried to refuse. I crashed my mother’s car several times and I responded violently to any attempt by my parents to discipline me. I was a law unto myself. I smoked crack cocaine for the first time at the age of 22 when I was invited to try it by some guys from my neighbourhood after a night out drinking.
I did not become addicted immediately and my life was still manageable at that stage. In an effort to start a new life and escape from the drugs and drinking that had been causing me so much trouble I decided to go and live in England. Although I travelled 6000 miles to the other side of the world to escape, I took myself and my bad habits with me! After doing well for almost one year and having secured an excellent job, I met up with another South African one night, who told me where I could purchase crack. The dealer was living in my street! I started by visiting him only on weekends when drunk but soon I was smoking every night. For the first time in my life addiction really took hold of me.
I lost my job, car and my flat and eventually moved in with the drug dealer. I worked for him by driving and helping to distribute crack cocaine, amongst various other criminal activities, and in return he would pay me with drugs. One night he had nothing to give me and I had been drinking. I decided to go out and rob somebody to get money for drugs. Shortly afterwards I was arrested and charged with two counts of street robbery, was granted one month’s bail, and was then sentenced to three years in prison. While in prison I abused prescription pain killers and other opiate based medication. After serving two years of my sentence, I was deported to South Africa and less than one week after being released I went back to smoking crack.
I managed to keep a job for a short time but soon replaced my habit of smoking crack with that of smoking heroin (sugars/whoonga). Eight months later I was living on the street having lost my job, vehicle and place to stay once more. By this stage drugs had taken hold of me in a way I had never imagined possible. I slept on the street or in shelters and begged or stole to get money for drugs. After some time I was shown how to inject heroin and this then replaced my habit of smoking it. Both my parents had restraining orders against me from the local police station and I had not spoken to my brother in nearly 6 years. I had reached a point where I had decided that the only way out was to commit suicide.
It was at this stage that I was told about a place where I could get help. I arrived with an organization called the Concerned Community and joined their program. I was in a hopeless situation when I arrived and suicide was still an option I was seriously considering.
Through attending the daily sessions and with guidance from the numerous caregivers I was able to speak about all the wrong things I had done in my life. As a result of confessing all of these sins I was set free and was able to meet with and form a relationship with God. Through confession, the will to change and the Lord’s work in my life, the chains of my addiction have been shattered. It has been nearly four years since I first arrived with the Concerned Community. Not only am I no longer using drugs but now have an administrative job and will may soon begin studying towards a degree. My relationship with my parents is now even better than it was before I started taking drugs!
I thank the Concerned Community for the role they have played helping me to get my life back and I thank the Lord for gracefully snatching me back from the gates of hell.
* Places, names and identifying details of individuals have been changed to protect their privacy.