How I Overcame Drug Abuse
How I Overcame Drug Abuse.
It is a sunny Monday morning in Namasuba a suburb of Kampala, I am ready to take on my tasks of the day. I start my day with twenty minutes of meditation to raise my positive energy. I then sip on a cup of coffee and chew some toast with butter and marmalade. By 7:30 am I am ready start working. This was not how life was for me two years back. I can now boast of letting go of harmful drugs and a lifestyle that was sending me to doom. At that time every time I woke up, I only had one thing on my mind and that was getting high on drugs. I only used to hang out with people who do drugs and despised any one who never took drugs. This led me to mixing with wrong characters in society and dropping out of school. This lifestyle eventually led me to being homeless.
I was a very brilliant student from my primary level up to my secondary school. I was always among the top performers in my class. My grandmother raised me but she never had to pay for tuition since I had a scholarship with African Children's Choir. My mother died while giving birth to me and my paternal grandmother decided to take me on. My father had many wives and he was always busy since he was working with Uganda Wild Life. I never got to see him often but the little time I would spend with him was memorable. Edwin Kagoda (my father) died while I was in my final year of secondary. Dad never supported me financially through out my education and social life. My grandmother took me to the auditions of African Children's Choir and I was selected. We were tested on various skills like singing, dancing and knowledge of the Bible. I loved music from a tender age. My Aunts and Uncles would listen to music and it fascinated me so when they would go out they would come back home and find me playing the radio.This made me enjoy the auditions like a cup of coffee. I remember a blonde lady who we would refer to as Auntie Emma saying ''Henry we have selected you to join the choir''. I saw this as a start of my journey to success. We toured different countries like USA, Canada, Holland, Belgium, Britain and South Africa. In USA we visited every single state. I was the youngest in the choir but I still have clear memories like it was just yesterday. I enjoyed the tour because it exposed me and I think that is why I was always topping my class when we returned to Uganda. My grandmother was always happy about my progress and it seemed as if I was heading for green pastures. I knew that I was an orphan since my dad would take care of my other siblings but not me because my mother was dead. I appreciated every opportunity that my grandmother gave me and took it like gold. My grandmother often said to me '' Study well my grandson and this is the inheritance I am giving you''. This motivated me to study hard since I got to understand that it was the road to success.
In my second year in secondary school I took my first puff of marijuana. On a cool Saturday afternoon as I was walking in the Ordinary level class blocks, I found two Kenyan students smoking. I approached them like a pro smoker and requested for some smoke. They were in their final year high school. One of them asked me ''Have you ever tried this before?''. I replied ''Yes '' but it was a lie. He then passed me the joint. I inhaled the smoke until I could feel it in my chest and then exhaled. I saw both of them smiling. Peter and David became my good friends. When the spliff was over we separated on to different directions. That is when I started feeling the effect. I felt like I was a cartoon character. (I felt like Johnny Bravo). When I went back to my dormitory one of my friends who we used to rap with asked me ''What have you taken". I replied to him lunch and started to laugh. Kagezi could tell that I had taken my first joint and he advised me to go for a nap. I followed his advise and woke up feeling much better. I started to search for a way to feel the same way that marijuana made me feel. Luckily for me I knew where my new friends would meet to light up the weed. This made me popular in school since I was interacting with students in higher classes. I also started pushing(selling) weed. One of my classmates named Phillip smuggled in a pound of cannabis at school. He knew that I had connections to many smokers so he gave me a deal. I was supposed to sell the weed and get a commission. I sold the marijuana but when he was paying me I told him to instead give me marijuana. At this moment my grandmother still thought I was still that innocent little boy but I had turned into a monster. I managed to hide my drug addiction from my grandmother for a while. She would sometimes suspect it but had no concrete evidence. I continued to smoke marijuana and tried other drugs like heroine but never got hooked to them like how I was to cannabis.
When I was in my last year in high school my father passed away. It was sad news to me but it was worse for my step mothers and siblings since thy were depending on him. It was a big loss for me since all my step brothers and step sisters were now looking up to me. I sat for my final exams of high school and I passed highly. In Uganda after high school students have a long holiday that is about ten months. During this holiday my grandmother traveled to America. My sponsors were willing to pay for me tuition but I had to take on a diploma. My Grandmother told me to go for a degree and she was also willing to pay for it. I went for the degree but dropped out after one semester. I decided to go to the streets to find a better life but little did I know I was jumping out of the pan and into the fire. I sometimes wish I just did that diploma that my sponsors were willing to pay for me. Family members were all against me and all I had was the streets and my friends who I used to do drugs with. Most of those family members who were against me just wanted to take over my father's property. Dad left me in charge according to the information at his work place (Uganda Wildlife Authority) but this angered some of my relatives. They tried to look for a loop hole to make me look irresponsible so that they could take control of the our inheritance but the Law protected me. You may wonder why I left University and went to the streets, the reason is because life was so hard. I was at university without basic requirements. It felt like a torture house mentally and physically. The streets felt like a haven for away from all those family wrangles.
Life on the streets was seemed fun but it came at cost. At first I would sleep on the streets and pick up scrap for cash. I got fed up with collecting scrap so I joined gangs of robbers. With the robbers I was assured of food, a roof over my head, cool clothes and some pocket change. We would walk in groups of five and beat the hell out of people if they would resist our attempts to rob them. It was risky because if you were caught by the public mob justice would prevail. I remember a gang member who went on a mission to rob but he was caught. People gathered around Richard as he tried to rob a lady's handbag and burnt him to death. This never stopped us from robbing since it was the only way to survive. Before I joined the streets I never knew what jobs my friends I would smoke with were doing. Phillip who was also known as ''General'' once said to me ''You see how we live. I am surprised you got used to this life so fast''. I replied '' I adapt to anything so fast''. Phillip left his home in Mbarara and came to Kampala after his mother had died. His father got another wife who mistreated Phillip and his brothers and sisters. Phillip decided to run from home and that is how he ended up as a thug. ''General'' was my best friend. Before I could rent my own room when I had just joined the gang we would share a room. Even after I moved to my own room we would meet and play cards as we drank and smoked. At this moment I had no dreams of going back to school and my future seemed dark. I though I was going to be like the thugs who were around me. A miracle happened for that I never expected. My grandmother came back from America and she sent police to get me. When the officers saw me I started to run thinking I was going to be arrested. One of them said to me '' Do not fear we have no crime. We have good news from home''. I settled and followed them to the police station. I was happy to see my grandmother and there I knew I had a second shot at reaching the good life. She took me to rehab where I was detoxified. I then joined university and pursued a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Next Year I will be graduating but I already started working. In the rehab we were given medicine that reduces the thirst for drugs. Now I have taken three years without doing any drugs and my future is back on track. I used to wake up to take a drink or smoke marijuana but these days I wake to meditate. I used to always have bloodshot red eyes. Whenever I would not take any drugs I would have no appetite and life had no meaning. Now I am a free man who is not addicted to any drug.