“I started using drugs out of curiosity”
“I started using drugs because everyone around me was,” recalls 25-year-old Tazkiyah from Bonteheuwel, Cape Town. “It was really just out of curiosity and wanting to fit in and be as cool as my friends,” she continues.
But what started out as nothing more than succumbing to peer pressure, quickly spiraled out of control. After three years of drug abuse, Tazkiyah realised she had a problem. Her usage increased and this affected her relationship with her friends and family. “I started using [drugs] more and started lying and stealing to get drugs. My family no longer trusted me and our communication was strained. I was starting to get really aggressive toward them,” she adds.
With her relationships under threat, she decided it was time to get help. She booked into one of the City of Cape Town’s free rehab centres and started mapping out her journey to recovery. “Without treatment and learning about addiction, I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today,” Tazkiyah says.
In truth, drug addiction affects us all. While we may not all personally know someone struggling with addiction or undergoing recovery, addiction has financial and social implications that affect everyone (government statistics show that close to 60% of crime is due to drug-related activity). But with the social stigma surrounding drug use, getting help isn’t always easy. But help is available.
The City of Cape Town is currently running a drug awareness campaign called “Someone In Cape Town”. The campaign’s primary aim is to demystify the recovery process and show that help is available for everyone. On the campaign’s Tumblr and Facebook pages, you can read the story of a young recovering drug. From booking into rehab, going through the rehabilitation process and life post-addiction, the campaign puts a human face to the recovery process and encourages anyone who needs help to call the hotline (0800 435 748). Tazkiyah believes this is important for anyone undergoing treatment.
“I think it educates drug users about addiction while giving them the tools they need to avoid relapsing. Without treatment and learning about the dangers of addiction, I’d still be using today. My four months in rehab helped me tremendously,” she says.
Picking up the pieces
While Tazkiyah is grateful that she’s managed to pick up the pieces, she’s quick to add that recovery is a long process. “Recovery was, and still is, a slow and continuous process. It’s much deeper than just staying sober. It’s an entire lifestyle change. I’ve had to learn to stay away from certain people and places that could trigger a relapse.”
She has big plans for her future. While her drug use has had a negative effect on her past, she isn’t allowing it to define her future. She is currently rewriting her matric and plans to be a qualified social worker in the next five years. When asked what advice she’d give to anyone currently addicted to drugs, she gives a measured response. “If I knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have used drugs in the first place, but I got a second chance. Not everyone gets that luxury. My advice? If you have a drug problem, there’s help available. Drugs aren’t worth losing your life,” she concludes.
If you, or anyone you know, is suffering from substance abuse, get in touch with the City of Cape Town by calling their helpline: 0800 435 748. Follow the City of Cape Town’s campaign on Tumblr and Facebook.