‘My name is Don and I have been drinking since I was 15. I grew up around drinkers, I spent many hours of my childhood around brewers within my local community. I first tried a bottle of beer, then two and I craved to get drunk. I was curious about how it felt to be drunk. My first bad state was when I passed out in the detached bathroom outside the main house.
After my secondary school I got very mixed up with young men in my local community and we always ended every evening at a local bar. I started working as a menial mason and got very skilled but I spent most of my earnings on alcohol. Bit by bit I graduated from crates of beer to mixing beer and spirits/dry gin. I had a young woman, a good woman I wanted to spend my life with but I could not make enough money to keep her. At this time I needed to take up a job that paid more to be able to care for my woman and myself. Not being able to do this stressed me so much that I delved more into drinking and eventually the young woman left me.
I felt my ego had been dented and I became violent and very aggressive. One day, I got physical with a fellow drinker at the local bar and was arrested and detained by the Police for three days. For the period I was detained, nobody came to see me, not family not friends. While in detention, I craved for a drink (I was thirsty for beer), it was as if I would not wake up the following day. This was the first time I had stayed off a bottle since I became addicted. When I was released my first stop was at the local bar and I had one bottle of beer on the house as a ‘welcome-back’. I got to my workplace next day, I was told by my Supervisor that my services were no longer needed for the obvious reasons – alcoholism and aggressive behaviour.
At that time I knew I needed help but did not know where to go to for help. I thought of going to the primary healthcare centre at the community council or seeing a Pastor or an exorcist. This was a very difficult moment of my life, I had no money, no job, and family wanted nothing to do with me and no friends. I calmed down a little, tried getting back with a brewer friend I had known from my childhood. He allowed me few shots for free and I would work with him to make just enough for a day’s meal. Over the few months I spent hanging around the local dry gin brewer I managed to cut intake. I was not eating well and I needed a stable mind to find a job, and energy to work.
Today, I don’t drink every day. I can go for two days and just take few shots occasionally. I have a new job and another woman who is currently carrying my baby. Now, I want a normal life and want more control of myself. I want a good life for my child and my woman. I hope to find help to completely stop alcohol, I have stayed away from my old friends and my woman is very helpful. It’s very difficult but I am determined to stop. I hope I find what I need to help me long-term’.
A story of a young man form the hinterland who is fighting alcoholism. There is need for awareness raising on alcohol abuse and other non-communicable diseases such as mental health.
By Ekaette Udoekong.