Help addicts, encourage sobriety

“As soon as my parents got divorced, I joined a gang known for being drug addicts. I knew my parents wouldn’t approve. But why would I care if they didn’t care about themselves anymore?

“When the people we depend on for love and support let us down, it feels like a stab through the heart. We feel unsafe and alone and it drives us to reckless decisions. I was dragged into the world of drugs,’’ says Calvin Muhire, a high school student.

Today, many youngsters are sucked into drug addiction. We visit them in rehabilitation, in extreme cases, we mourn at their funerals and talk about what great friends they were and how things would have been so different if only they had said no to drugs.

We feel guilty about not doing enough, and not helping the way we should have. We cry about reaching out when it was too late. We tell ourselves that it was beyond our control.

I personally remember some students who became addicts. It was heart-breaking to see the effects on them. I always thought there was nothing I could do, and that they would change when they were ready to.

I’d have sympathy and think of ways to help support their recovery. This wasn’t easy. I felt completely helpless.

Do not be in denial. Addiction changes the person you formerly knew. When you love the addict as much as you did before, your support will go a long way. They need all the love they can get.

Be patient and go for progress—not perfection. Expect forward and backward steps in equal measure.  It is part of the process. Talk to your friend about your concerns, and help them understand the effect the drugs have on them.

“At school, I had no one to talk to. I needed someone to help me get family issues off my mind. I was lonely for a long time, and then a newcomer came along and found a friend in me. She has been really good and patient with me, I disappoint her often. She has tried to help me through this tough time, I hope I don’t let her down,” Muhire says.

Don’t be negative. Acknowledge their achievements. Let them know they are not alone.


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