By Joseline Byakatonda
A Youth struggled with addiction since S.1 shares her story. Not all Hope is Lost
This article is dedicated to the family of Emanzi Violet, special thanks to the entire family especially parents for accepting Violet to share her life story with the rest of the World. Many have similar testimonies hidden in family libraries because they will tarnish the family name. This is freedom and a sign of redemption. She is an icon to many that will be liberated. To the parents of Viola still, thank you for believing in her as a person not the addiction. The glory you saw in her is what was resurrected through enormous efforts. Your pockets were drained, happiness and even reputation but your daughter was the most important treasure you wanted back. Who can reward you but God alone!
Special thanks too, to Serenity Centre for providing unlimited professional support. The Executive Director, Emmanuel Mubangizi and the team- bravo. And finally, tribute to the lady herself-Emanzi Violet for fighting to regain your freedom all the way; your parents and Serenity center’s efforts would not have yielded results if it weren’t for your resilience. From ashes to beauty, greater heights await you. I am Emanzi violet a recovering alcohol and drug addict. I call myself ‘recovering’ because it is a life-long sickness, treatable, but has no cure. That means living everyday with it. Writing this article is not only about me telling a life story but a lesson; drug and alcohol addiction is real, it needs attention, help, understanding, and love. If you are dealing with an addiction seek help, God never forsakes his people. If you are dealing with an addict don’t discriminate, shame or blame them; love and help them instead.
I lived my primary school life like every other child and to me it was the best in the country. My family, headed by my father gave me everything I needed most especially education, I was given the best of the best. My addiction started in senior one – surprisingly! I badly wanted to fit in and be apart of the group but also pass highly; I wanted the best of both worlds – fit in the group and high grades. My first poison was royal vodka costing 500 shillings only and from the day I tasted it, I never looked back. From then I tasted all brands like: kitoko, black label, and amarula, name it. There is no brand in Uganda that I have not tasted.
My first taste of alcohol was given to me by my “friend” or so I thought she was my friend. Soon after I was introduced to ‘kuber’ to help me be stable when high and help me focus on my books. From ‘kuber’ I graduated (I call it that because you keep wanting more, and better highs) to cigarettes: Sportsman, Dunhill, shisha etc. All I smoked! I further graduated to marijuana/weed/Mary Jane any name you want to call it, all the flavours and grades (high/low/bush). From this stage I graduated to mairungi/gut/vee vee or in easier words leaves that are chewed to get high. Soon I graduated to heroin and crack cocaine. In short my whole life from senior one to my first years of university, of which I had been through five schools because of being expelled, not only was I a user but a supplier too. I started with one tot pack and it ended in a horrible entrapment of heroin and crack cocaine. On top of alcohol and drugs there were pharmaceutical abuse of diazepam, rhoyphnol, codeine, the list is endless; that is unforgettable!
Addiction led me to being a thief; pick pocket, crook and pathological liar. My family shattered because they didn’t know what to do, they tried all possible ways to help me but all in vain. I was arrested twice and lost everything. I was homeless, practically a beggar living in the ghetto. I was taken to Serenity centre for rehabilitation and I was admitted for six months. With a lot of help, support and understanding, always remembering I am a recovering addict, tough life choices and changes have had to be made. I lost out on education, shattered my family, but God helped me through; without Him I would have literally died. God has protected and lifted me up, I’m still a miracle in progress.
Addiction is a battle fought with self, as you want to be familiar and high, you know the monster that comes out. With addiction come making unwise decisions, wrong company and life on the fast lane. I struggled with that concept for a while to change the friends I had for years, people I knew as brothers and sisters who became family – wrong family. I have had to pick myself up with a lot of determination amidst so much fear of who I was and what I have become. The God I serve has saved me, restored me, my family and friends. I am now pursuing a degree course at Uganda Christian University-thanks to my parents. I am taking life one day at a time. Addiction is cured by love. Let us all embrace and love each other and together we can beat this disease. Having read this article, if you are in the practice of just trying to get high or actually have a problem with alcohol, smoking and drugs, do not panic; seek help. But if you are living in denial, the first step to change is acceptance.
In conclusion, I quote what a brilliant person while in recovery told me: ‘addiction is a disease cured by love’. As a former victim I couldn’t agree more. May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you.” To the majority, substance abuse is seen as a youth issue or problem far from reality. In many instances judgments flair, and whether rightly or not we are all entitled to our opinion. All views on earth however, are subjective hence originate from the angle of view. Your opinion and judgments depend on where you are at and its environment. Substance abuse however, will not be solved by judgments because the victim is already consumed and overpowered by addiction. As you judge them, they have already judged themselves and feel unworthy to stay with. This explains why they withdraw. They are already engulfed in guilt as their conscience rings the bell of derailed life to them daily. The dilemma is their powerlessness to overcome the vice and get on track again. So, by judging them you are doing nothing new but emphasizing how bad they are which they already know and are guilty of anyway.
You condemn the already condemned and there is no redemption in that. Redemption is in doing the reverse to the lie the victim believes is true and that is ‘love’. They feel unworthy, low self esteem, guilty, and often get depressed which love dispels by saying you are lovable, still worthy, you can make it, we are all human, we all have one savior Jesus Christ who is unlimited. This is what Violet’s parents did and you can now see the fruits. They laid aside the fees paid up to university and instead added to it by paying rehabilitation fees only to raise a star to guide many. Violet now reaches out to communities with a burning zeal of seeing an end to drug abuse. She wouldn’t wish another person to experience it. Her story is a horror no other young person, adult should experience in our community. In reality substance abuse has engulfed all age groups in different forms.
Young professionals have fallen and are still falling victim, majority of conductors and drivers of commuter taxis- people we entrust our lives with- are in the loop. These are the fathers of the children we teach in schools and institutions and infants baptized. The married are not safer either, domestic violence has been attributed partly to substance abuse and so is HIV prevalence. The religious are not on top of the game either. This is an evil that will disorient society if not addressed. War against this disease will be won if waged jointly. It should be the concern of every school administrator, parent, employer, legal adviser, religious leader among others. Substance abuse should be part and partial of any formation program. No assumptions can be made as signs of addiction show way after the addiction. Also, there are more substances addicted to than those known or exposed. Others are addicted to drugs as simple as panadol. Prevention is better than cure. Different from other diseases, addiction is a lifelong disease that even after rehabilitation; chances of relapse live on for life. Psychologically, our brains create a path for every habit we nurture. That pathway is what makes it easy to do what you do consistently with ease. Do not therefore expect quick results as if the habit was learned in one day.
Substance abuse is a reality, let’s not live in denial while the enemy advances.
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