The overwhelming hold of substance abuse can be conquered through resolute resolve and a firm dedication to healing. By having a strong passion within you, you can initiate the action towards a more promising tomorrow. Just seek assistance from groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and allow them to lead you on the journey to recovery.

By Jabu Kumalo

Recovering drug addicts are on a high, but this time it is not because of the intoxicating effects of substances. Instead, their uncontainable joy stems from the arrival of the most wonderful time of the year.

This is the time when hundreds of members of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) come together to weave tales of their battles, their victories, and the sparks of hope that ignite their spirits.

On Saturday 1 July, from 8 am to 4 pm, members of the NA will hold a rally for their awareness campaign at the Diepkloof Multi-Purpose Hall, which is located on Eben Cuyler Drive in Zone 3 of Diepkloof in Soweto.

In the highly anticipated Annual Speaker Jam, a group of 18 individuals who have bravely battled addiction and are now on the path to recovery will be sharing their inspiring stories of hope and resilience.

The theme of this year’s Speaker Jam is: The Lie Is Dead! So Where To? A New Way Of Life.

Several individuals who have overcome addiction are scheduled to speak, with some having maintained sobriety for as little as one year, while others have successfully abstained from drug use for 17 years or longer.

The entire community is invited to attend, with a special emphasis on those who struggle with addiction and their loved ones.

According to the ecstatic rally spokesperson, Ndlama H (pseudonym), who spoke with The Telegram, one of the goals of this gathering is “to take away the stigma that an addict will be forever an addict and an addict can never find help.”

They also want to dispel the myth that an addict can never, ever change their behaviour for the better.

Ndlama, a young man of 24, spoke with a sense of pride as he revealed that he had been free from the influence of any mind-altering substance for over two and a half years.

Ndlama faced numerous challenges in his efforts to address the drug issue. He says despite attempting various approaches, such as entering and leaving rehabilitation centres, he struggled to break free from the clutches of addiction.

He told The Telegram: “I remember one day coming back from a high, I was told that you are starting school tomorrow. I said I am not going there. The only way that I could make my statement clear to my parents was to pack my books and pour paraffin on them.

“As I put paraffin on my school books and lit them, I did not realise that my sister was in front of me. She was caught by the flames of the paraffin that spilt on her. I was really high, and I remember her screaming my dad’s name. I was so paranoid I didn’t know what to do.”

He spoke of the harm he had inflicted, his words a painful admission of his wrongdoing. His reckless behaviour had landed his sister in the hospital not once, but twice. The aftermath of his drug use had left a path of devastation in its wake.

Ndlama spoke of a curious phenomenon that occurred whenever he took a break from his drug use. Upon returning to his old habits, he found himself thrust into a world of unfathomable experiences and events beyond his wildest imagination. He made a solemn vow to himself that their memory would be forever etched in his mind.

He reveals that he resorted to selling his own body, engaging in prostitution with both men and women. These were actions he never anticipated doing, but addiction had such control over him that it dictated his choices. He never imagined he would reach a point where he would sell his body, but ultimately, he found himself doing so.

“I started selling my body. I was prostituting myself to both men and women. Things I never thought I would do. But addiction would make you do it. Addiction makes the decisions for you. I never thought to myself I would sell my body, but I ended up doing it.”

As he spoke, his words dripped with the bitter taste of regret. He lamented the agony of watching his aspirations of becoming a lawyer slowly fade away, obscured by the haze of his drug-addled thoughts.

“I started using drugs in 2014. I was a runner at the time, and I used to like athletics. My future was bright, if I may put it that way. But the thing about addiction is that it has a way of making choices for you. I am a person who liked school, and sports and who liked his family. I started losing all of it as I wanted my own space. Slowly but surely, I started going off all sports that I liked. I started skipping and bunking school.

“At school, a lot of people got into trouble because of my drug use as well. I couldn’t focus in class without using it. I couldn’t be social without using it. My dress code started being a bit darker than how brighter it used to be before.”

He spoke of a time when he was surrounded by a bustling crowd of friends, but gradually found himself withdrawing from the social scene at school. His demeanour shifted, morphing into something more primal.

“I started bullying people at school due to my needing to acquire a fix. I would demand money from them. I eventually decided I don’t want to go to school anymore, and I left school.”

Having overcome his addiction and embraced a life of sobriety with the aid of NA’s programme, he now shares his message of hope with those still struggling with substance abuse. As he embarks on a new chapter in his life, he is cultivating a nourishing bond with his loved ones and the wider community. He finds himself venturing into uncharted territories, such as the realm of prayer, surpassing even his wildest dreams.

Ndlama’s voice echoes with a resounding message of hope, a beacon of light for those still ensnared in the clutches of substance abuse. With a heart full of compassion, Ndlama imparts a powerful revelation, a truth that must be shared with the world. “I have been given a message,” Ndlama declares, “and it is my duty to pass it on. Recovery is possible, my friends. It is within our reach. It is possible for any addict who wants to live a clean life to do so.”

As he reflected on his journey towards recovery, he realised that it was the unwavering support of those closest to him that had truly lifted him. They had reached out and taken hold of his hand, guiding him through the darkest of times and never letting go.

“I was honest to myself that I am an addict. I was open to being helped by people who were through the same journey as myself. I was open to living this new way of life. I was open to surrendering that I cannot use it successfully anymore. I was open to spiritual principles. I had told myself I wouldn’t speak to God anymore. But I ended up doing it.”

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