Tag Archive: drugs


I have a son who is an addict.

My beautiful blue eyed child who has so much within him to offer this world through his love and compassion and wacky sense of humour. Probably the hardest thing about addiction for family members is being open and honest with those around you. People are so quick to judge, point fingers and give advice. You are judged on so many levels as a parent as to not being strict enough, helping too much, giving excuses for bad behaviour, treating one child different to another etc, so when something as hectic as this comes along, you want to hide away from what you expect will only be accusing fingers.

Surprisingly, I can’t think of condemnation from those I have shared with, but pity, yes. So it becomes easier to share the more you talk about it and there’s healing in sharing too, and suddenly you find yourself hearing stories from others who have either travelled the road themselves, or have a family member or friend who has been there/is there. Now that was very unexpected. I have come to realize that addiction is a huge issue that touches many lives and families. I have a passion to speak to young people and share our story and implore them to not go down that road. It’s one thing sharing with those you know, it’s another thing going as public as this. I have learnt so much through this road that I feel it is beneficial to share the journey with others, while at the same time withholding some parts of the story that I feel only my son should share when he is ready one day. So this is more of what it has been like as a mom and what I have learnt along the way.

We were a place of safety to our son at 15 months, then foster care and eventually adoption at 5 years old. Yes, there is addiction in his biological family, and no, we would not have done anything differently. We love and accept him completely and are commited to him for life. Addiction is the great leveler – it does not matter what age, race, religion, financial bracket, area you live in, male or female, whether you are part of your biological family or an adoptive one, it can touch your life if you choose to go down that road.

He excelled in Primary School, gaining merit awards for academics, but struggled to stay a part of things consistently, so sport never really featured. We had assessments done that revealed we were dealing with a genius IQ, but the signs of ADD were strongly visible, so we went the Ritalin route for a few years. Not one specialist could ever give an accurate diagnosis as to all that he was struggling with, and we had varying ideas presented to us. I knew there was something not right and so was very protective of him and often shielding him from trouble and making excuses for bad behaviour. At the onset of adolescence, trouble started big time and we struggled for years with a defiant, rebellious teen. In the 2nd week of Grade 9 he announced he was not going back to school. You cannot believe how we tried and then eventually gave up the morning battle of trying to pull this huge kid out of bed. We came under heavy criticism at this stage from people. How I wish I knew then what I know now. I don’t know if we could have stopped the drugs, but we would have had understanding as to what we were dealing with, and we would have coped better as a family. He eventually finished Grade 9 at a Home School. He is such an amiable person and very well liked in all circles, so people often did not believe us as to what life was like at home. We moved Provinces when he was 16, and that’s when we believe the drugs started. He basically did nothing for 2 years and then somehow managed to get his Grade 10 at a Home School while doing drugs at the same time.

Addiction is a behavioural disorder and the drugs may follow only years later. The first part is called dry addiction where you see the behaviour, but there are no drugs. That’s why we never saw the change-over to when drugs were added in the mix until 6 years later!

You know what an idiot you feel like when you have made the comment ‘he displays so many symptoms of someone taking drugs and yet he’s not taking them!’ We just didn’t see it until I found a small empty ‘bankie’ (small plastic bag that dagga is sold in) on our toilet floor – I knew straightaway what it was, but your mind doesn’t want to accept it. Within the week I confronted him and he confessed to it. Just writing about that time brings tears to my eyes – I so did not want this to be true. I even went as far as giving him activated charcoal that day I found out because he said he had just tried LSD for the first time the night before – I was just desperate to give him something to get this poison out! I could not understand why you would want to put acid in your body and that this stuff was in my son’s body! Little did I know that there are always lies when it comes to addiction and LSD had actually become his drug of choice.

My son’s counselor said to me last year that moms were not made to parent an addict. It should never have been this way. Moms love and care and nurture and protect – all of that gets ripped away, other than the love, when you land up with your son in addiction! You have to think addiction first and son second. It is all very hectic to deal with. So many emotions – anger, hurt, betrayal and yet a love so deep that just wants him to get better.

Dreams for the future are dashed. Facebook posts about his peers graduating from High School, university etc, getting their driver’s licence just break your heart in 2. While I want to celebrate with my friends, and I do, at the same time, I mourn the loss of what could have been. Recalibrating is the order of the day.

Co-dependency becomes a common household word and you have to realize that you played a part in making it easier for him to stay in addiction by always rescuing him. What you thought was good, was not! It’s a whole mindset change, a whole new way of loving and parenting. The three C’s help a bit in that I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it.

Healthy changes in your thinking are vital. I am so thankful for the training my husband does as, alongside the support group, it has been invaluable in helping us get stronger and able to deal with all the challenges and changes in a life with an addict. The training he does has got to do with how our minds work and how we set goals etc. One specific help has been the statement ‘think and say what you want, not what you don’t want.’ Another help has been the acronym CHIVE which stands for having the courage to live lives of humility, interdependence and vulnerability in order to live a life of excellence. Number one thing for any addict or supporter to learn is humility – to see your fault and start to deal with it without defending, justifying, denying, blaming or rationalizing. It is no easy road, but the journey makes you stronger and it’s so worth it in the end.

My son went from Primary care (1 month) to Secondary care (1 month) to long term rehab for a year. He is now volunteering at the rehab at 23 years of age and at the same time doing his Grade 11, with the plan to do matric next year. So many people have said the length of time in rehab is a waste of time. I strongly disagree – the way he was living before rehab was a waste of time. Now he has his life back on track with a feeling of hope and purpose for his future. If he had stayed as he was, the only other 2 options were jail or death. It has been a tough 1st year of rehab with a relapse in the middle that had us all reeling, but it was that very rock bottom that he needed, and from then on he started to climb towards health in body, mind, soul and spirit. He found God again and it has been amazing watching his spiritual relationship with God blossom and grow over the last year. One of the steps (in a 12 step programme that the rehab runs) is about realizing that you are powerless in your addiction and need God to help you through.

Biggest help to us as a whole family has been attending the HEAL addiction support group on a weekly basis, where we learn about addiction, hear other families stories and get to chat to recovering addicts and ask them questions we might have. Our daughters attend from time to time. It’s a family disease as each family member is affected and needs recovery. My husband and I have held onto each other for support through this, and I am thankful that it drew us closer together and we worked towards being on the same page with regards to our son. That’s why long term rehab is important as it gives time to all involved to process and heal.

Addicts are told not to go back to old places, faces and things – we need to learn and change so that we are not the same when he visits – we cannot afford to be a part of the group of ‘old faces’ that could trigger a relapse. You learn that co-dependency is basically doing for others what they can do for themselves, living their lives for them with more passion than your own. Before you realize what it is, you would do all that, thinking you are doing the right thing. It’s only through talking to others and understanding how destructive it is and how powerless it makes the person you are being co-dependent to, that you start working towards change.

The thing to realize is that we all do it to certain extents, and often moms battle the most as we honestly see it as caring and loving our children. But we land up with our children not learning how to stand on their own two feet and feeling entitled. It has benefitted us in further parenting of our girls and in general life living. All parents would benefit from reading the books ‘Boundaries’ in its various forms for different ages and settings by Cloud and Townsend and ‘Co-dependent no more’ by Melody Beattie. You learn how very vital chores are in the household, how consequences have to take place, threats with no back-up are no good to anyone and consistency in what you say and do is so very important and how giving your children everything they desire is so dangerous. They need to learn delayed gratification from an early age.

The concept of tough love suddenly makes sense. I think this is the part that people on the outside of your family battle to understand the most. Believe me, I battle too with the thought of my son relapsing and saying, that’s it, you are not welcome in this house anymore or to be a part of our lives. When you understand, that by saying ‘shame’ and maybe allowing him to stay with one more chance, you are taking his power away and making the chances of death or prison even stronger. Addiction is a one way ticket to death unless the person realizes their problem and starts to do something about it. They don’t even like taking someone into rehab who is not there by choice, because until the denial stops they are wasting their time and your money! It’s called the disease of denial and the way the road often starts is with the phrase ‘it will never happen to me!’

Addiction is a costly journey to all involved. It costs you emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, socially and financially. Rehab costs can run into the millions if you allow it. Long term rehab is the only way in my opinion and from our experience and also through listening to the advice of others. It often takes a long time to get into full blown addiction – there is just no way that a person will sort it out in a month or three. At least a year is needed for a good recovery. The other thing is that addiction is a lifelong journey. Relapse can happen with one glass of wine (the most common form of relapse comes through a drink), and so they are told no more drinking, ever! Sometimes I think that we should all live with that kind of vigilance in our lives and with the motto that is used in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) ‘just for today!’

For me, as a mom, it has been the toughest thing I have ever had to deal with, but I am on the road to recovery and so thankful that my son is doing so well. I have to learn to live without going on the ups and downs with him as that is not helpful in my recovery. This is one of those experiences that at this stage I can say that God really does work for the good in all things to them that love Him.

[For other stories involving struggles with Addiction, click here]

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.”

Dave Luis profile image 1

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 http://www.na.org.za/ or call 083 900 69 62 to speak to someone just like you who can help

My addiction blog: healing.me https://bloggsymalone.wordpress.com/category/healing-me/page/16/

My clean day count blog: https://bloggsymalone.wordpress.com/category/cleandaze/page/44/

[For more stories involving Addiction, click here]

When i started sharing stories on rarely spoken off issues in the form of Taboo Topics, one of the main reasons was to put a name and a face on a topic that is not often dealt with. There is a lot of power in this as it helps make an issue someone else might be struggling with seem a lot more real. There has been much positive feedback in this regard.

However, as i start to share some stories on the theme of Addiction, i have decided that for some this will be a place where they can safely share their stories anonymously, especially when it is in the form of a parent, sibling, friend talking about someone else as they will not necessarily have permission to share on behalf of another person.

Where the stories are from people who once struggled but have now overcome addiction, i will be expecting more people to add their picture and name to continue that helpful tradition.

Addictions can be devastating as they affect so much more than just the person involved and can seem unending to those caught in them. But there is an end to that tunnel, and many have walked through it. I hope that these stories will bring encouragement and strength to those currently facing them or knowing people you love who are caught up in them:

Meet a Parent of two sons struggling with alcohol and drugs

Meet David Luis – long time struggle with drugs

Meet a woman who married a Sex and Porn addict


There’s a glimpse of heartache and pain in 31-year-old Debbie lvin’s eyes, but just for a moment, and then it’s gone, swallowed up by a smile, a nervous chuckle as she launches into an account of her painful journey through infertility.

It’s a much greater problem than people think. It was only after I started talking openly about it, that I discovered that some of my friends and their friends were going through what I was going through. It was knowing this that got me through my bad days. I wasn’t doing it alone and it also gave me something else to focus on. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and depression, I focused on how my experiences could perhaps help someone else. It got me through the dark times she says.

Her story, much like the woman she is, can only be described as remarkable. Her journey through infertility has made despair, disappointment and bitterness constant companions, but in the process she has discovered new friends in the form of hope, faith and courage. Throughout it all, she has had the constant support and love of her husband.

“I take great pride in my role as a wife and my husband and I work hard at keeping our marriage strong. This is essential to ensure that this experience brings us together and doesn’t tear us apart.” she says, a softness in her eyes as she speaks of the man who has been at her side throughout this journey. “When my husband and I found out we could not conceive naturally, I felt broken inside and filled with despair. At first, we chose not to tell anyone and as a result, this private pain gnawed at me constantly. Nothing seemed to soothe my aching heart. I spent hours wondering why it was happening to me, why my body didn’t want to co-operate. It was only made worse when my friends fell pregnant with ease. Babies were everywhere and even being surrounded by prams in shopping centres became too much to bear. I was so focused on the one thing I couldn’t have, I lost sight of everything else in my life.”

“I’ve been battling with infertility for seven years and have tried everything, from complementary therapies to in-vitro fertilisation.This was a huge financial and physical sacrifice for us and involved enduring drugs, injections and surgery. Our first attempt at IVF resulted in me carrying twins for a few weeks, before suffering a miscarriage. After all the anticipation and watching the embryos moving around, I could hardly endure the physical and emotional pain of losing them.” Debbie smiles bravely as she recounts those painful times. But determined to keep trying, she underwent another IVF procedure a year later and on the third and final attempt, she miscarried again.

The root cause of Debbie’s infertility lies in hormonal imbalances. “When I discovered my hormones, or rather, lack of them, were the cause of my problem, I took it very personally. It struck the core of who I was as a woman and I felt my body had let me down. I felt as though I had failed as a woman and it was easy for me to sink into the depths of self-pity.” It took an extraordinary will, for Debbie to drag herself out of the dark and make a conscious decision to be happy despite the circumstances she found herself in.

“Somehow I knew I’d have to let go and release the control I thought I had over the situation because it really wasn’t in my hands at all”. Naturally shy, Debbie says the experience in talking to other women who have suffered loss or those in similar situations as herself has forced her out of her shell. “This experience has helped me grow into a more self-assured, confident person. I force myself out of my comfort zone and set myself a challenge each year.”

This year, her challenge has been to keep herself strong, fit and healthy. “I joined a running club!” She laughs as she explains she has never been much of an athlete. “I think I surprised myself more than anyone else. I joined the Chiltern Athletics Club in December last year and ran my first 50km marathon a few months ago! I’m really enjoying it, and it’s making me stronger.” she says proudly. “Because my hormone levels are so low, I have to take care of my body. I will never give up hoping for my miracle baby and I want to make sure that when it happens, I am strong, fit and healthy. It has taken me years to reach the level of maturity I am at now. To leave the bitterness and self-pity behind and realise that although pain is inevitable, it is possible to choose joy despite this. I still have bad days, but it on those days that I’ll indulge in my favourite pick-me-up, peanut butter! It always makes me feel better she says laughing.”

“I realise now that I don’t have control over this. I have done all I can to make it right. I don’t want to feel like I didn’t give it my all. I have tried so hard and at times felt like a slave to my timetable of drugs and injections. Now it is all in God’s hands. Right now, I’m happy, I enjoy my life and like to think I’m a mother-in-waiting!”

[Debbie and Bruce Ivins]

so i read this article in the restaurant this morning while waiting for my buddy to arrive.

firstly it was set in miami

secondly the premise of it is completely hilarious slash disturbing as in this line: ‘burglars snorted remains of a man and two dogs in the mistaken belief that they had stolen illegal drugs’

thirdly, that’s not the best part

fourthly it goes on ‘once they realised their error the suspects discussed returning the remaining ashes, but threw them in a lake instead because they thought their fingerprints were on the containers’

and the clincher for me was this: ‘police divers were tring to recover the ashes’

like really? the way the article (Cape Times newspaper, 21 Jan for reference) is written – they were going to return the ashes then threw them (the ashes) into a lake and now police divers are trying to retrieve them. with what? underwater goggle microscopes and a pair of tweezers? in hindsight i guess what would make more sense is if the divers are swimming in the lake looking for the urn, but without that realisation the whole thing seems a lot more gary larsen or jack handey and qualifies for shtupidt people 101 – heeeeere’s your sign…

so this teacher of the law comes up to Jesus and says, “So what is the most important command in the law?”

it’s a trick question and yet Jesus floors the gang of them by summing up the whole law as “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength. and love your neighbour as yourself.” [paraphrase, Matthew 22.37-38]

and since then, christians through the years have been well known for hating gay people, and people who have abortions, and the Catholics, and people who drink and do drugs, and those who live together, and black people, and people who run sex shops and so on…

is it just me, or are you thinking that maybe that’s not EXACTLY what Jesus was going for?

in fact, in John 13.34-35 He repeats the command/expectation/inspiration/mission when He says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”


how is it possible that for the most part it often seems as if christians are known for what they are against, rather than what they are for? we placard, we burn down, we email petition, we march, we ban, we exclude, we look down upon and we gossip, among other things, against all the evil sin that surrounds us in the world (and retreat once more to the safety of the church bubble we have created)

and yet the mark of a Christian, our tattoo as it were, is meant to be love. be known by the love you have for each other. in fact, before we even get to the rest of the world, that’s where we stumble isn’t it? cos we can’t even love ourselves? because we all belong to different demonisations, sorry ‘denominations’, and let me tell you why my church is better than your church, or why you have it wrong, or how you should be doing baptism or communion or singing or dancing or not dancing or whatever…

[at this point i glance over my shoulder and see Jesus fashioning a whip together]

fortunately though, Jesus doesn’t give up on us. and fortunately Love, true sacrificial life-transforming redemptive love is contagious. in Corinthians it concludes the love-is-a-choice list with ‘Love never fails’ – it makes mistakes, it gets it wrong sometimes, it messes up horribly… but it never fails. and that is exciting!

so it can begin with you. and me. let’s commit to being known by the love we have one for another. for those we disagree with. for those who do things we don’t understand or even find downright offensive. for those who sin and don’t even seem to notice and care.  for those who do church differently from us. let’s wear the tattoo of God’s love. let’s be salt and light. let’s be ambassadors, and a fresh fragrance and aroma of Christ.

let’s be followers of Jesus (and not just christians!)

after all, wasn’t it Him who, while suffering a torturous agonising death, called out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”




[Love never fails!]

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