A few years ago, I started using cat and cocaine with friends.  At first it was just for fun, but then it got worse… it became a regular, daily thing. Everyday I HAD to use.  I can remember in the beginning it was just on occasions, a weekend thing.  It was fun and amazing to feel the burning through my nose, the awful taste in my throat and the high it gave me.  I could party for hours and go days without any sleep.  Whenever I used, I could focus on something for hours, and not loose my concentration.  NOTHING could stop me.  Or so it felt…The years of using continued.  I always thought that I had the upper hand of the drug, and that I can control it.  I mean, come on, any drug addict thinks that.  At the time of using it felt great.  I felt on top of the world, until one day when my whole world came crashing down on me.

My using became so often and so bad, that whenever I got my monthly salary, I spent everything on drugs.  I’d phone my dealer right away and get my fix.  I’d pawn things for money, I’d steal money. My personality changed, in a bad way, I wasn’t the same anymore…

So one day I just couldn’t anymore, and I moved away from the people that I was living with and using with, but things just got worse.  You see, I stole a large amount of money from those people, and it so happened that the girl had been tested by her mother for drugs, and her tests came out positive, to which she and all my drug using buddies decided to put the blame solely on me… As soon as they noticed I stole their money, they threatened me with the police.  – IT WORKED!!!

Right there and then was my turning point, and my decision to stop using.  I couldn’t anymore, I knew I needed help, and fast, before I take my own life.  Luckily, I had an opportunity not many people in my position have – for me to make a decision to change for the better. I was sent to Cape Town where my mother lives, and told her I need help, and I want to stop using and be myself again, because I have lost track of my life.  She booked me into a rehabilitation centre in Fish Hoek, called False Bay Therapeutic Community Centre.

I found myself there.  I found my higher power.  I reconnected with myself.  They taught me how to be in a family, how to treat each other with respect.  I learned how to cope with feelings, and to not overreact, but to think and talk about it instead.  To literally think about what the consequences of my actions will be, not just for me but for those around me as well.

F.B.T.C.C taught me about what drugs really are, they opened my eyes to what I thought was my friend.  I now know that what I was doing was controlling me, instead of me controlling myself. That was probably the worst thing to realise – I let myself loose control.

Today I am 21 years old and 277 days clean and sober.  I have recently started designing websites and am working hard to further my career.  Knowing what I have accomplished since I first stepped through the doors of F.B.T.C.C has made me proud of the person I am.  I received a new lease on life thanks to False Bay Therapeutic Community Centre.

~ Carmen