“I could not remember things and I could not truly focus; my life was a blur.”
University is supposed to be a fun time; newly exposed to the world, on your own and with so much freedom. This is exactly what it was for me. However, there was so much more that I could barely contain the excitement.
I got involved with drugs quite innocently. It was mostly recreational - they called it and it was fun. It was not long before my reasons for using “slow” changed completely. I needed it to feel like myself and I needed it to get along with others or do my assignments or go for parties. I was on this high that I cannot quite describe. My drug of choice was codeine and it was quite easy to get too. Most people took it to sleep. I took it to fight the sleep. That was the beauty of it. Did my grades suffer? Not really. I was still the straight A, Deans List student I had always been.
I began to lose weight at an alarming rate and I needed to read things more and more in order to remember them. I could not remember things and I could not truly focus; my life was a blur. It was at this point that my friends and family took notice. I was cautioned because, what is addiction in an African home?? I was prayed for but did not stop. I came from an affluent family so money was not an issue. When my parents found out that I had not stopped, they cut me off. I cannot begin to describe the things I have done to get a fix. Did I mention that my addiction went into crack cocaine? It is amazing how easy it is to get these drugs right in Abuja.
I have woken up in strange places, wearing strange men’s clothing. I’d slept with men to get my drug of choice. I even have a baby and thankfully, I know the father. This did not stop me from wanting to get drugs. When my parents cut me off, I went as far as begging random men using my son to get drugs. I am not proud of what I have done and I am grateful for my parents because they finally took me to a rehabilitation centre. It seemed to work the first time and I was in touch with the person I was before. I tried to get my life back on track and then I relapsed.
I was taken to rehab two more times until my parents kind of gave up. Note that in the middle of my second year at university, I could not keep up anymore. Studies didn’t mean all that much to me anymore. I just needed to get high and go about my way.
Where am I now? I’m back in university. All my friends have graduated and either have amazing jobs and families or are getting their PhDs. I am ashamed and remorseful but I have my family’s backing and support. Some of my friends want nothing to do with me and I understand where they are coming from.
The temptation to use is always there. However, I have a psychiatrist that I see and I am getting better. I am told it takes time and constant effort to stay clean. I am allowed to see my son and I have to live with the guilt of what I have done. Everyday, step by step, I am learning to deal with those emotions that caused me to want more and more of the drugs. I keep myself distracted. My youthful exuberance got me a baby and some wasted years. I can say I am lucky because I am still here but others have not been so lucky.
Submitted by a survivor of substance abuse