Freedom from captivity of Alcoholism – by Pius Kinobe
How I Got Introduced To Alcohol at a Tender Age
I was born on 30.08.1983, and stayed with both my parents who later separated when I was about five years of age. My paternal grandparents took care of me. I grew up a healthy boy who never suffered from common diseases like Malaria, cough etc. However I regularly encountered stomachache. When I was in my Primary seven vacation (November 1998), a friend of mine advised me to use alcohol in form of Waragi. Its pain killing effect was immediate and superb which gave me consolation moments when I went to bed.
The next day, I didn’t wait for the stomach ache instead I drank to feel good. I became a daily drinker instantly. The money for drinking came from Fine Art works a product of the talent God gave me. At 16 years I would freely access and drink alcohol with old men and women in bars and other drinking joints.
Trouble at School
When I joined Secondary, I continued to drink to the detriment of my conduct. I could stock my alcohol and disguise it as juice so as not to be detected by the school authorities. I could also sneak out of the school with flask and when found they would think I was carrying tea and yet I was ferrying alcohol into the school! Whenever I was under the influence of alcohol I become a source of fights, and often disobeyed the school regulations. I would not even accord the school authorities the respect they deserved. As a result of my misconduct, I got expelled from different schools. I remember in 2002 when I was in senior four, I attended three different schools in three different terms. Towards Uganda Certificate of Education Examinations, I never had a school but since I was registered I was allowed to sit my exams under surety of two armed policemen! This was done because the school feared that I might cause chaos.
I become my own brewery
Despite finishing O’ Level as an alcohol addict, I was admitted for A’ level studies and offered PCM/A subject combination. Due to the shortage of money, I used my knowledge in Chemistry to mix my own ethanol and make Crude Waragi at an average concentration of 60%! This is higher than the UNBS’ highest standard of 40% ethanol concentration in any alcoholic beverage. The opportunity to make my own alcohol ran out when I completed A’ level studies. Not to be out done, during my S.6, vacation I secured schools from where to teach mathematics and Physics. My objective of remaining with access to laboratories was achieved hence with continued supply of Ethanol I went ahead with brewing my alcohol.
I Developed Dependency to Alcohol
The availability of self-made alcohol made me a dependent to the extent that I could not be in a place without it. Without alcohol I would get tremors and feel feverish. To avoid these, I had to take a sip all the time. As a result I would roam the school compound (sometimes even in the class rooms) with a mineral water bottle to disguise my alcohol as water to the onlookers!
At the end of my A’ level vacation, I joined Kyambogo University for a Diploma course in Telecommunications Engineering. Avoiding to be spotted out as an addict, I started stocking tot packs in strategic places such as toilet water tanks! My drinking went out of control to the extent that during lectures/examinations, I would excuse myself for ‘short calls to get an opportunity to take a sip. Somehow I would progress in my academics to the next level until when I was posted for intern ship.
I was posted to Uganda Clays Kajjansi, where I excelled and subsequently given a job which earned me a good salary and allowances. Due to my hard work and brilliancy I was even promoted and transferred to Eastern Uganda. The regular salary boasted my drinking to the point that I forgot about the studies. New life was now about drinking and working. Being an intern/junior officer my senior colleagues left many assignments (especially the night ones to me). I would not mind because I was sure to have good company of alcohol. However because of working under the influence of alcohol I made many mistakes.
Total loss of control
I would drink at all times good or bad, happy or sad moments. Alcohol became part of my life just as I became part of it. I and alcohol became inseparable! Because of my uncontrollable drinking I received many warnings from my superiors and colleagues along several promises to change. Indeed from the bottom of my heart I desired to change but it was not attainable. During many outings I promised myself and friends that I would take only one bottle to aid my sleep but I would end up drinking till I become unconscious. As I increasingly lost the battle to control my drinking I grew resentment towards those who criticized me and remained in the company of fellow addicts, some of whom were addicted to sex.
Paying The Hard Price Of Drinking
During my drinking sprees, accidents became rampant to me. Time and again I found myself with injuries some of which were severe. One day I got a terrible one with a person who was a daily client for sex workers. No one knew his HIV status. Because there could have been a possibility of blood interchange, my brains convinced me to join him in his ventures, (after all I am HIV+ so thought! This put my life at social and health hazards / risks associated with commercial sex working for two consecutive years! To run away from this reality i had to drink more heavily. At this time I could consume one litre of waragi in five minutes, in form of gulping after which I always blacked out. It was too much for me. I was going down so first although I could not help it. Many times I cried alone in the house and wished that the problem goes away but in vein. I tried different sorts of medications and solicited for prayers but the down ward trend continued and eventually got I dismissed from my place of work.
Drinking away my retirement package
I was given a decent retirement package, enough to help me acquire a small plot of land and build a three roomed house. This money was posted to my account but I would withdraw it just for the purpose of drinking. Without work and yet with plenty of money I began five days drinking sprees. Incidentally I never ate food during those sprees and only God knows how I managed to remain alive. In a very short time, my account got depleted without any tangible project. Without any money or meaningful employment I had to find unscrupulous ways to furnish my addiction. In the process I lost trust from my people, became a threat at home, a non-reliable person, a thief, e.t.c
Struggling But Failing
After going through all the worst moments of life, I counted my losses and they were endless. I would try to stop drinking but only for a while. Although I got fed up of drinking alcohol, I failed to find ways of stopping. I cannot remember the number of nights I cried to the lord to take away the problem and yet resumed drinking the day after. I and a few loved ones especially my mum looked for various solutions including asking people to pray for me. Not even a variety of herbal medicine collected for me worked!
The journey to recovery
I was eventually hospitalized for 3 months. While in the rehabilitation I was taken through detoxification process. Tests done on my liver and kidney revealed some damage. Luckily my HIV status results were negative. I received counselling and was also introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) fellowship. I letter come to like it when I learnt that it was composed of men and women of various callibers who come together to share their experiences and support each other hence giving hope to people like me who initially thought I had lost it all. It is from here that I come to recognize that I am not alone.
Hope and Beyond
It is now about 540 days since I last drank alcohol. I am sober and very happy. I know that the war is not yet won but ‘one day at a time’ I continue to do the recovery program; daily spiritual meditation, seeing my counsellor regularly and attending to positive recreational activities. My life is slowly being reconstructed and I am hopeful that the future is bright. I am gradually regaining trust of my loved ones and attracting positions of responsibility in society. I am grateful to God for the gift of sobriety and the people through which I achieved it, and those helping me to sustain it. As a way to give back to the Lord I try to reach out to other people in similar state; the work that I do at Hope and beyond.
Hope and Beyond is an organisation with a mission to provide holistic care to families and communities suffering from addictive illnesses and substance abuse.
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