Former drug addict shares experience as world marks International Day against Drug Abuse


Sunday, June 26 marked International Day against Drug Abuse and a former addict Richard Opare who used hard drugs for 19 years reveals his encounter with drugs.

The Day is marked worldwide to look into the major challenges of drug trafficking and abuse.

“Unless we reduce demand for illicit drugs, we can never fully tackle cultivation, production or trafficking. Governments have a responsibility to counteract both drug trafficking and drug abuse, but communities can also make a major contribution. Families, schools, civil society and religious organizations can do their part to rid their communities of drugs. Businesses can help provide legitimate livelihoods. The media can raise awareness about the dangers of narcotics.”

Richard Opare shares his story in an exclusive interview with on how he got addicted to drugs and the effects it had on him until he gave it the boot.

“I started out of ignorance because I didn’t understand or knew the consequences related to it and I also didn’t have any education as long a s drugs was concerned.

“I also think that it was a way of wanting to belong because I didn’t want to be left out of the peer pressure thing they always talk about.

“I started with alcohol for six years and then in those days I was a very shy and timid person and couldn’t do things a lot of other people did so when I took alcohol I felt I could flow and relate very freely.

“I later met these couple of friends who actually were not doing alcohol but seem to have the courage to do things they could do in the absence of alcohol.

“Later on, I realised they were into using something that looked like powder so they gave me some which didn’t like in the first place but I gave it a try.

“Interestingly unlike other people I have seen who use these substances for the first time and they suffer by way of developing headaches, vomiting and stuff like that and don’t see the need to continue with it again, I enjoyed it.

“I enjoyed I in the sense that the euphoria that came with it and also the shyness and timidity disappeared and I could relate and communicate to people I felt shy to do that with before then and I could also talk to the ‘chics’ very freely.

“I kept using occasionally and also some of the benefits in my own understanding that it gave me was that it enhanced my own sexual performance and so at a point in time my girlfriend will tell me that ‘chale’ this time you are strong and stuff like that.

“Every man wants to be considered strong especially when it comes to matters of sex so I kept doing to be able to satisfy her and also have the applaud that I was performing.

“I fell in a company that I was getting drugs for free almost for about two years and in fact when you go to the drug world getting one booster for even a day is a miracle so getting drugs for free almost close to two years was something made me not to believe that the issue of drugs all the things they talk about and the negativity was all not true.

“It was when I actually got to the point where the supply got blocked because it wasn’t coming in again after those who were bringing them in were caught one after the other and that is when I saw the ugly side of drugs.

“This time around I had to buy with my money, cheat, con, and lie and during the days when we had a lot of Liberians in town we were doing something called the Liberian lie by going to people and telling them we need help and collect all these monies for drugs.

“At a point in time I saw the need to go for treatment at a clinic which was only temporary because I came back from the hospital and went to my vomit.

“From there I went to some few faith based organisations that were trying to do something in connection with drug treatment but again their interest was prayer and the word of God which is actually good but they were not tackling the drug problem so I came from these institutions and went back to drugs.

“I did this for several years in and out of institutions seeking help and so on and a point in time I saw myself slowly committing suicide and not that alone but I also saw people die around me and I felt I was going to be the next person to go.

“A friend of mine told me that the only way out was to call on God and pray so I did this for some time praying to God to help me come out of this.

“I ended up being home and stopped and one other reason apart from God intervening in my own understanding that gave me the help to come out I felt that I was sick and tired and didn’t want to die in my addiction.

“I went for some counseling after a year or so on drugs at the Korle bu addictive unit which is a unit where outpatient programs are run for drug addicts and alcoholics.

“I stayed with them voluntary with them and started teaching and counseling for ten years and one thing I realised is was that I got the interest in helping other people in their addiction because anytime I gave I received and I kept my recovery and I have done this until now and this time around I have gone beyond taking courses in drug addiction management so I am a certified drug addiction management professional going out there and helping people.

“Families are actually going down the drain and if one person has the disease of addiction within the family the whole family is sick in the sense that mother and father are not able to sleep and they end up developing all sorts of emotional illnesses and so on.

Advice to the youth

“What I would say is very simple and I just tell them not to start at all. Some of us are coming from the river where we have tasted and we know the implications so don’t start at all”.

By Nana Afrane Asante||Ghana

Twitter: @afranenine

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