TALES OF COURAGE: How I broke my 14-year heroin addiction

Wednesday August 30 2017

Ahmed Said, 35, has successfully gone through

Ahmed Said, 35, has successfully gone through rehabilitation at the Teens Watch Rehabilitation Centre in Ukunda and is dedicating his time to helping others over come their addiction. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By FADHILI FREDRICK
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Ahmed Said, 35, one of the addicts at Teens Watch Rehabilitation Centre in Ukunda, who has successful gone through rehabilitation at the centre. He has recovered and is dedicating his time at centre helping others over come their addiction. He is currently pursuing a diploma course in business management in Mombasa.

When Ahmed Said’s parents died, he turned to marijuana for comfort.

“I started experimenting with cigarettes when I was 10 years old. I grew up in Majengo, Mombasa, where both I and my friends used drugs. When my parents died, I relieved the stress of being left alone by smoking bhang.”

When he was 15, he started experimenting with heroin and became such a hardcore addict that his grades in school started slipping.

EDUCATION WAS A BOTHER

Eventually, when the school administration found out about his drug addiction, he was expelled.

The expulsion fuelled his drug habits even further as he had more free time in his hands.

“I did not value education. At that time, it was just a bother to me. My life completely changed as I became a thief, a criminal. I stole from family and neighbours. Even my own family did not trust me. They knew I could easily pickpocket them or sell their belongings for quick cash.”

One of his friends, a fellow criminal, died by a bullet when they went on a stealing spree one day but Ahmed got lucky and escaped unhurt. He was however arrested for possession of heroin.

“I served three months in jail. In determining my culpability, the judge reasoned and gave a moral sentencing decision to serve three months in jail after I convinced the court that given an opportunity, I would stop using drugs."

It was also the first time in a long time that he had spent so much time without taking drugs. While in jail (and with a clear head), he reflected on his poor life choices and vowed to turn his life around.

WENT BACK TO OLD HABITS

But he would soon realise that his resolve was not strong enough because he went back to his old habits as soon as he was released.
He looked up some old friends who invited him back to an old, familiar world or drug addiction.
But his life choices kept nagging at him. When he want back home, nobody wanted to be associated with him because of his criminal past.
He began asking himself some hard questions:

“Why is it that people are talking ill of me? Why have the drug dens become my home yet I haD a bed at home? Are the people the problem or is it me? This is the time I realised the problem is me and I had to find a solution to this problem.”

TURNING POINT

That was the turning point of his life and in 2007, aged 23, he enrolled at Teens Watch Rehabilitation Centre in Ukunda to wean his body from the devastating consequences of years of heroin use.

The director of the centre, Cosmas Maina, used to visit the drug dens in Ukunda to speak to them. It was Cosmas who invited him to the Centre.

The recovery programme took two years.

“The programme was in two phases of three months each and the rest of the time, I used to help with chores here and there at the centre.”

The last time he took heroin is eight years ago.

WENT BACK TO SCHOOL

"Immediately after that, I weighed my life choices and in 2009 I decided to go back to school because I realised I had a gap in my life."

He was 25 years old when he joined the Word of Life Academy in Ukunda but later transferred to Mwaroni Primary School, Ukunda where he did his KCPE. He then went on to Waa boys high school in 2011, where he did his KCSE in 2014 and scored a C-.

In 2015, he did a diploma in counseling psychology and he is currently pursuing a diploma course in project management at Kenya Institute of Management Studies in Mombasa.

Ahmed and his friend formed an organisation called Recovery Community Youth Group with intention of offering prevention programmes to schools and institutions.

He has dedicated his life to fighting drug addiction among young people.

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