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Youth’s journey through addiction

Monday, May 20th, 2024 07:24 | By
Joshua Mwangi, a 36-year-old man from Thika, Kiambu County who struggled with substance abuse. PHOTO/Print
Joshua Mwangi, a 36-year-old man from Thika, Kiambu County who struggled with substance abuse. PHOTO/Print

For Joshua Mwangi, a 36-year-old man from Thika, Kiambu County, the wrong path towards alcoholism and drug abuse began while in high school through experimentation.

A bright, visionary man whose family thought he would be their saviour started drinking excessively and taking inhalants, a lifestyle that he maintained until he completed his basic studies.

Although the vice did not entirely affect his performance in the KCSE exams, Mwangi’s alcohol and khat tolerance grew to a point that he started mixing the two with other inhalants, a condition that almost snuffed out his career.

After years of progressively consuming the destructive substances, Mwangi, a political science student at United States International University-Africa (USIU-A), fell into depression that forced him to abandon his studies.

He became helpless, a situation that sunk him more into the uptake of outlawed substances which almost shattered his dreams of becoming a politician.

“It was not until about six years ago when I realised that I had become an addict. At this point abuse of drugs and alcohol became my darling and I could no longer focus on my goals in life,” said Mwangi.

The irresponsible behaviour and alcoholism saw the young man separate from his wife who had their one child.

His life however took another turn when his parents enrolled him for rehabilitation and therapeutic treatment, a three-months course that saw him regain sobriety.

Mwangi who is now over one year sober has been able to repair his broken relationship with parents, friends and has begun networking with a hope to rebuild his life.

“I plan to remarry, sire children and become a responsible father. I have been able to mend my broken relationships and I look forward to becoming a better version of myself,” he said.

David Manyatta, another 38-year-old man from Thika says his addiction began in high school in 2001, where he used to take alcohol and smoke cigarettes together with fellow students.

Food production

A bright student who pursued a higher diploma in food production after high school became hopeless, forcing his goal of beginning a catering and events company to flop.

For 21 years, Manyatta followed the disparaging alcoholism path until 2022 when he got an opportunity to undergo rehabilitation at Maranatha Restoration Homes (MRH) in Thika where he left a sober man.

“I would immediately, with the help of my supportive parents and friends, begin a catering services company, a job I have been doing now for one year and a half now,” he revealed.

Since he regained soberness, Manyatta says he is now able to go for his dream of becoming an employer and turning the world into a better place.

His sentiments were echoed by Somo Tare, a 23-year-old who started taking miraa when he was17.

The uptake of khat, he says has drastically cased his dental attrition, decayed and stained his teeth giving him a new look in life and plunged him into a condition that now disallows him to take hard-food due to pain.

Tare who has since abandoned khat and is on a recovery path urged fellow youths to keep off uptake of outlawed substances and instead endeavour to build their future.

The three are among a number of professionals who have passed through the rehabilitation centre including pilots, engineers, lawyers, business executives among other notable persons who have fully reformed after three-month treatment at Maranatha Restoration Home and went back to their gainful employment.

Poor environment

According to Kenya Counselors and Psychological Association Chairperson Prof Catherine Gachutha says the burden of addiction to alcohol and other drugs is unquantifiable as most of the addicts become polarized and non-functional at their work places and at home.

The capacity of the addicts, she said, is usually impended by the use of drugs and alcohol and require continuum of care for them to heal.

Prof Gachutha blamed the high rate of addictions in the country to individual factors such as trauma, advanced childhood experiences, poor environment, unemployment crisis, peer pressure, marketing of alcoholic brands among others.

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