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Reflections of a recovering drug addict

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HE got hooked on drugs but found the willpower and inner strength – after four years of travelling a slippery slope – to check himself into rehabilitation.
JONATHAN MBIRIYAMVEKA
By that time, he had abandoned his university lessons and become anti-social.
Looking frail and suffering from withdrawal symptoms, often licking his lips, 24-year-old Edward Carlos Soko (pictured) of Harare checked himself into rehabilitation last month when he sensed he was about to plunge into the abyss.
That was a life-changing decision.
What started out as a pastime turned into addiction as he would sneak out of his Mufakose home to go to a nearby base where he would puff on crystal meth also known as “mutoriro” or “guka makafela” among urban youths.
While at the drug den, he would go for three days without sleeping or eating, high on the illicit substance.
Getting hooked on drugs was the easiest thing to do, but kicking the habit, though doable, is a tough task. Edward began taking drugs at Chinhoyi University of Technology where he was studying computer science.
His drug habit led him to drop out of university during the second year.
Oblivious of the effects of taking such hard drugs as crystal meth which is now common in high-density surbubs throughout Harare, Edward experienced character changes and mood swings.
“I then knew that something was up. I lost appetite and couldn’t eat and eat for like three days. And I would sleep on the fourth day. This all happened after leaving home for the base in Mufakose,” he explained.
“I would then go back home when the euphoria was over and my mother would not suspect me of anything.
“At times we went to the base with friends and at times I would go by myself and buy the one that cost US$3. But while at the base there comes other people as well and I would have another go at it,” he said.
According to Edward, addiction to crystal meth starts from the very first puff and the rest, as they say, is a trip to hell.
“I had to drop out of university to look for money to fund my addiction. I got a job at a technology company in Harare where I worked in the IT department. While I was working, I would experience mood swings until my bosses fired me. I then went and convinced my mother that I should go back to school to which she agreed,” he said.
“I enrolled at Speciss College this year but my addiction grew but then I was smart enough not to show it to my mother.
“I went for a month at Speciss College but the problem is I didn’t have money to buy the drug so when my mother gave me about US$70 meant for school fees I didn’t pay but, instead, I went to the base and spent days there squandering the money.
“At the base there is really nothing that happens except getting high with a few girls around. I didn’t mind them because that numbness and the craziness makes you feel like you’re in a world of your own. At the back of your mind something tells you that you’re happy, you’re not hungry and you’re okay when, in fact, it’s hell because afterwards you likely get into depression,” he said.
Realising that his life was going down the drain, Edward decided it was time to quit the drug. He had contemplated doing so for some time, but failed to do so because of cravings.
“I then decided to back home and tell my mother that I wanted to go to Annex Hospital. I told her about struggling addiction to crystal meth and she agreed. The problem with addiction is that at times you might not know it but the more you take it the more it damages your brain,” he said.
He was admitted to Annex last month where he said he received a warm welcome from nurses and staff.
“I think I was he only one who was not given medicine for those who had mental illnesses because I was sober and quiet. I got my treatment for two weeks before I came home. I had to leave Mufakose for Damofalls, a new environment so I could pick myself up.
“I have regained my appetite and I am now sleeping normal hours just like everyone else,” Edward said.
Asked how he was rehabilitating himself at home, Edward said he was going through a lot of changes.
“It’s a process and slowly I am getting there but I usually do not watch television but I read novels particularly science fiction books and also spend time on my laptop. I do exercises here and there,” he said.
Edward’s second phase of rehabilitation now is to find himself, get new friends and also get involved in advocacy work.
“I want to play a part in educating youth against taking crystal meth, which is an anti-depressant stimulant,” he said.
Edward called on parents to continuously engage their children so that they notice if there are any character changes.
“There is a generational gap nowadays because parents hardly find time to talk to their children and find out what would be going through their minds. Most parents are eager about the success of their children, but we have become a generation that loves things,” Edward said.
He also blamed social media, saying it was putting unnecessary pressure on the millennials who often want to be what they see on Instagram and Facebook.
“Social media has the same effects as crystal meth because they both cause an addiction. The young generation now has addiction to phone and social media. We cannot do without it and this is where most of the pressure is coming from.
“Imagine there are young people who cannot live without their phones. And when they see the haves on Instagram or Facebook they would want their parents to provide them with latest phones and other gadgets.,” he said.
As for the future, Edward said he would be want to go back to work.

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