It is early 2012. The phone rings and my brother George answers. Silence. Eventually I whisper: “I need to get out of here. I need help.”

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But the story starts in 1995, at a party, where a friend was having so much more fun than everyone else. “What’s he on? Is he drunk?” Our innocent questions were answered with “Ecstasy” and a journey into 18 years of intense addiction began.

That first pill was exactly that: ecstasy – an incredible rush of sensations on the skin and in my mind. Dazzling lights and music pounded my body as if they were a living, breathing thing. And soon every Friday night I journeyed into sound and touch and love and fun. It seemed so innocent.

In 1996 my boyfriend and a friend of his raped me. At the time I didn’t believe it was rape. I just thought it was a very adult situation I needed to ‘man up’ to: I’d caught him cheating and he responded by forcing me in on the act.

I should have left his home that night, but I chose to stay, and all through the year that I lived there, his infidelity ate away at me, making me feel worthless, unloved – spare. It was in the weekly ecstasy that I found fun and a reason to smile.

My once-weekly ‘feel-good’ session soon became two and then three and then, four nights out of every week I escaped into the warmth and love and beauty in those little pills and the music that went with every party.

Ecstasy wasn’t enough, though. I tried LSD and then cocaine. I loved cocaine. A lot. In 1999, I tried heroin and loved that even more. It was – yummy. Yes. Yummy. That was how we described it then, and it’s really the best way to describe it now.

I liked heroin, but it killed me. I overdosed after snorting too much at party and I woke up in Joburg Gen after my heart stopped three times. I never chased that dragon again. Instead my cocaine use grew, and by 2004 I was snorting three grams a day. I moved to London and for a while I used very little. But only for a little while. When I came home in 2007, my body couldn’t handle it anymore, so I switched to speed.

In 2009 I tried crystal meth and it became my new best friend and worst enemy. I couldn’t get enough of those endless white clouds of crystalline chaos. I stopped caring about how I looked – my skin became a grey, purple, disfigured war zone of meth bugs.

I lost weight. And my mind. You don’t sleep on meth. I went for days, sometimes more than a week without sleep. Your brain isn’t wired to go for long without sleep, so I lost the plot, and my job.

It wasn’t enough to stop me, though. I sold everything I had to pay for more. I cashed in my pension. I pawned my furniture. I didn’t care if I had to sleep on the floor in an empty room –so long as I could get another hit.

It didn’t make me feel better, though. I sank so low and felt so alone that all I could think about was ending it all. I took 120 sleeping pills. It didn’t work – all that happened was I slept for several days, waking in a confused mess.

My family tried interventions. So did my friends. I cut them out of my life. All I wanted was more meth, and to be left alone. One by one, they all did. I was alone, in an empty house, and I couldn’t go on.

Some people go even further before they hit rock bottom or die. They become homeless. They steal. They become sex workers. The pull of meth is that strong. We just don’t care anymore and we will give anything for another hit.

But I had run out of options. I couldn’t get high; I couldn’t kill myself, so I surrendered. All I could do now was to live.

I picked up the phone, and dialled George. It was 22 January.

On 28 January I started writing a blog about my addiction. Two weeks later, I got a call from Alan Knott-Craig, the CEO at Mxit. He’d read it, and he offered me a job. He had three rules. I forget the first two, but the third was, “Honesty. Come and tell everyone your story. Because people think that drugs happen elsewhere – they don’t realise that they’re everywhere.” And so, on 28 February, I moved to Stellenbosch and started my life again.

It hasn’t been easy. On 15 April 2012 I fell off the wagon and got high on cocaine. But I had learnt, and I confessed to my family and friends and publicly, on my blog. And I started counting my clean time from scratch. Day 1: April 16, 2012.

Each day now is a journey back to life, of being kind to myself with meditation and motivational readings. I work with my sponsors and a therapist and my higher power to help me rebuild my life and identity. Some days are tough, some are great, but all of them are worth it.

And as I write this on 7 January 2015, I’m on 997 clean days, and counting.

Dave Luis. 7 January 2015.

If you think it’s time to take control, reach out in absolute confidentiality to Narcotics Anonymous and start a safe, nurturing conversation about how to take back your life. Go to or call 083 900 69 62 to speak to someone just like you who can help

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