What you need to know:
- Staying at home results in easier access to drugs
- Children at the age of 15 have established drug habits, while others are hardened peddlers
- As parents, you must be on high alert
- Is our government really dealing with the illicit drug trade?
Sonny* was slumped out on a chair, sweaty, cold and shaking. He had cried, threatened, cajoled and begged himself to exhaustion. Three days later he was still here, drooling out of the corner of his mouth in resignation. A few guys would pass by, pat him on the back and wish him well.
Sonny was only 16 when he voluntarily checked himself into the rehab. He showed up accompanied by his aunt after two years of struggling with heroin addiction. It had been a hard and fast run with drugs for this teenager.
Sonny was excited to join high school and make friends at 14. He felt extremely privileged when he was invited to a house party during the school holidays.
All Sonny remembers from the party was that he was offered a cigarette by one of his mates and in an effort to look cool and belong, he smoked it. He passed out for several hours and when he woke up, the party was long done and he was craving the cigarette.
Sonny later learnt that the cigarette was laced with heroine. From that day on, his life became consumed with self-gratification.
As a result, his school grades suffered, he lost interest on sports and other extra-curricular activities and was not interested in a social life. He preferred to spend time with his fellow drug users. By 15, he had a circle of suppliers and all he needed was money to finance the habit.
Coming from a wealthy family with a doting mother and a father who was never home, money was easy to come by. During the December holidays prior to his admission, Sonny had graduated to injectable drug use.
The family owned a luxury hotel in Malindi where he had gone to spend his school holiday. He had to be kicked out by management on the instructions of his father when he broke into the safe of a hotel guest and stole money to buy drugs.
This was 20 years ago when drug abuse in Kenya was mostly limited to marijuana use. The community of narcotic drug users was very limited and mostly confined to the coastal towns. His distraught father was angry and overwhelmed in response to his son’s addiction. He disowned Sonny and threw him out of home.
With nowhere to go, Sonny turned to his aunt who took him in with the single condition that he would go to rehab and get clean. It was not an easy journey for Sonny, but he was determined to kick the habit, reclaim his life and win his father back.
It has been two decades. I caught up with Sonny two years ago. He was still clean and focused, raising two sons well. He notes that it is always a daily struggle not to fall back to drugs but he has no desire to be a prisoner to a chemical compound ever again.
During this Covid-19 pandemic, nothing has shaken homes more than the threat of drug use and addiction. For many parents, the prolonged closure of schools has revealed many ugly habits among their adolescent children.
Many heartbroken parents are discovering their innocent children are serving at the altar of drug addiction. Children at the age of 15 have established drug habits, while others are hardened peddlers.
Families are going through immense pain trying to rescue their children; drug rehabilitation centres in the country are overflowing with patients as new ones come up every month. Families are breaking apart in the struggle to survive the disruptive behaviour of these children. Depression and hypertension are on the rise among parents as they struggle to keep a lid on what they perceive as shameful.
There is discord among neighbours as a result of the antisocial behaviour demonstrated by these children and blame games ensue in gated communities.
As we struggle with the ravages of the pandemic, let us recognise the unspoken effects it has had on our children. Staying at home results in easier access to drugs.
As parents, you must be on high alert. Do not ignore abnormal or sudden change in your child’s behaviour. Balance between allowing the adolescents privacy and knowing what they are really up to. You could be living with a criminal drug peddler.
Is our government really dealing with the illicit drug trade? How then, pray tell, are these drugs so easily available to our children? We are watching a pandemic beget an epidemic!