The use of drugs is quite prevalent in some parts of South African where even youths find themselves using nyaope, whonga, cat and dagga – but, to many, beating addiction and finally quitting has never been easy.

However, Rabelani Tshifaro is one of the most rare, positive stories of youths who managed to run for their lives while the clock still tick-tocked for their best – therefore saving her life and bringing a breath of fresh air to all those who loved her and wanted her to quit.

Today, she has been clean for full two years and some months, which is a milestone worth celebrating if you know how drug addiction can destroy one’s life.

At the age of 31, Rabelani believes the continued abuse of drugs is perpetuated because people don’t want to own up to addiction and seek help. She holds the view that human life is too precious to throw away on drugs and that it is never too late to quit.

A resident of Thohoyandou Block F resident, Rabe (as she is affectionately known) started by drinking alcohol “just to look cool” during her high school days. The excessive alcohol consumption escalated when she went to a university in Bloemfontein.

“I abused my freedom and I ended up experimenting with marijuana to try and solve my problems. My life was starting to just become a whirlwind. After I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Free State in 2010, I moved to Gauteng. I started hanging around with new friends and imitated them when they took drugs.”

After some time, she would send them off to get cocaine for her. Soon she asked for the drug sellers’ contacts from her friends, and she would go get a fix or two for herself whenever she felt like having one. She even got a boyfriend, who also took drugs.

“The relationship was short-lived. But still I continued using drugs. I got two different jobs in Midrand and I worked for some time and eventually did quit out of sheer disinterest. Drugs made me lose interest in everything that was good or of benefit to me.”

Although she had a university degree, she felt as though her life was pointless. She had a void that she thought drugs could fill.

“One day I was stressed from the pressures of life, and I decided to try out a drug called methcathonine which has a street name ‘cat’. And that was one fatal mistake because I ended up being addicted, although it started out as something I did just to stimulate the alcohol that I was drinking.”

The addiction took over and it had a direct negative effect on her personal relationships and jobs.

“I suffered from depression and I could feel myself getting lost in the dark cloud of addiction. It was so real – not a daydream or mere nightmare. I was trapped in the quagmire of serious addiction. In some instances, it felt like I was trapped inside my own body, where running away from the addiction was an impossible thing – I could not even hear myself think anymore!”

By the time she realised that she had hit rock bottom was when she was heavily depressed. She would feel like being alone, being isolated from everyone. She would sometimes lock herself in her room for two days or even more.

“And that was when I realised that I needed to get my life back on track. It had dawned on me that indulging in drug use was just a waste of one’s time and another way of committing suicide. A lifestyle of drugs destroy many things and it delays or even destroys dreams. I even gave up on my job and I was stagnant, living a life with no purpose.”

On 28 August 2015, Rabe knelt down in prayer and asked God to help her in the journey she wanted to undertake – to quit drugs. And from that day, she has never looked back, not even for a minute.

“Temptations were so high for me to relapse and I even saw myself in dreams taking drugs with friends. However, my family gave me all the mutual support that is needed by a drug addict who seeks rehabilitation. I went to a Christian rehabilitation centre called Hands of Compassion. That’s where I discovered myself.”

In rehabilitation, she had an idea to start an organisation which helps addicted individuals, and that brilliant idea gave birth to Made New, a non-profit-organisation which aims to help those grappling with drug addiction.

“Preferably I have cut off all contacts with previous co-users to avoid relapsing. However, I would like to see them stopping using drugs and I hope that my positive lifestyle will one day touch them.”

Through her fully registered organisation, Made New, she gives hope to those who have recovered so that they do not relapse.

“We help vulnerable kids to stay away from drugs and we also support family members of those affected by addiction.”

Rabe can be reached on or 082 612 4802.


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