Going Home

I’ll never forget that morning. Andrew had gone off to some temporary job he had washing cars, and it was a Saturday. I was as miserable as ever after the long, cold and dark winter months. It was March and as I sat up in bed all I could think of is how bad the day would be until Andrew came home with some money, so we could drown our pain in more drugs. I pulled the curtain aside and to my surprise there was sunlight!

I decided not to stay in and made plans to visit some old friends of mine. Shortly after arriving at their little house, I blurted out that I had a drug problem. I was just so desperate to share this heavy secret that had been burdening me.

“What are you going to do?”

“Well, I have a plan,” I said. “I am going to leave Andrew and then book myself into a clinic and get treatment.”

My friend sat in silence for a long time and then simply said: “It won’t work. No-one in those clinics will care about you. You need to go home. Back to South Africa. So that your parents can help you.”

Until then I had never considered going home as an option, but after he said it, I knew it was my only option – I didn’t really have the strength to carry out my own plan alone. A week later I used my final salary to buy a little food, a one-way plane ticket, and drugs to get me through the last few days in London. On the last day of March I was on my flight back home.

After the initial catching up and telling stories of my life in Europe, I told my parents the truth. My mom cried and my dad just sat quietly. After a few moments he asked me what we needed to do to get me better. I couldn’t believe how blessed I was to have such wonderful parents! They didn’t push me away or scream and shout and tell me how stupid I was for taking drugs. They just loved me.

And so it was that my ‘rehab’ was my family home. My dad insisted that I slept in the bed with my mom so that I wouldn’t be alone. I would wake up at night, screaming from the pain of the cramps and then my mom would get up, make us coffee and sit up with me until I felt better. I spent days just lying in bed, only getting up to vomit or go to the toilet with diarrhoea. I cried and cried from the severe backache.

I did two weeks of ‘cold turkey’ which is stopping at once, rather than reducing the drug-taking bit by bit.) I was finally ready to face the world again. It had been the hardest thing I had ever done – leaving Europe and giving up on my dream to study, leaving Andrew behind, breaking the addiction and now having to start my life all over again, back in South Africa. I had no car, no job and very few friends left after being away for three years. But I was thankful. Thankful for being one of the few survivors of heroin and crack addiction. Thankful that I lived to be able to tell the story.

There is hope. There is a way out. My faith and the help of the people who loved me is what got me through it.

The trouble was that a few months down the line it seemed like I hadn’t learned a big enough lesson, and the next dark journey awaited…


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