It’s a hot afternoon and Frank August*, 34, looks relaxed. His warmth is complemented by a wide smile and a bubbly personality. Scratch a little deeper, however, and there emerges a picture of a 22-year battle with drugs and how they almost ruined his life.
As one probes his battle with drugs, August’s mood turns dark and his eyes fill with tears.
It all started as a 13-year-old, when August and his friends decided to experiment with sugars – a cocktail of heroin, rat poison, talcum powder and other ingredients dealers mix into it to expand its mass.
He did not know it then, but August now admits that taking that first hit opened a door that would lead him down a vicious path of drug abuse.
Three months ago, after years of chasing and failing to get the high his first hit gave him, August decided to change his life around
“Growing up was not easy because I started using when I was still in school and as a result I eventually dropped out and it caused my family great pain, but even then I continued, still thinking I was cool,” he said.
August said sugars was not as strong as it is now.
“It was something that I did for fun with my friends, but as time went on, I found myself doing it on my own,” he explained.
Before long, August had graduated to crack cocaine, rock and Mandrax.
Despite using drugs almost every day, August was able to mask his addiction from his family. According to outward appearances, he led a “normal life”, going to work and even marrying.
As his addiction grew, August soon found himself trying to balance his “normal life” with his urge to get high.
“I would not go to work on many days or just disappear with friends and come back whenever. I always had to have money in my pockets. I would spend every cent I had buying drugs and even when I had R5 000, it was all gone before the day was over.
“My family struggled and suffered because of my addiction.”
August said his life eventually spiralled out of control and he was in so much debt that he could no longer fund his addiction.
His wife also left him three times because his problem had become worse over the years.
“When you are an addict, it takes a long time – if ever – for you to see that you actually have a problem, and even if you try to stop on your own you end up going back to it,” he said.
August said his life was a dark alley, one he never thought he could escape from.
“I was this nervous individual, always sneaking around. I guess that is what drugs do to you. What was worse was that I had become immune to drugs and did them because I had to,” he said.
A lifeline eventually came through the director of the Last Resort Wellness Centre, Sam Pillay, who convinced August to change his life around.
“He was there for me nine years ago when I was still using and he never gave up on me. I went to another rehab centre in Westville where I was put on a detox programme.
“I was given five tablets and they really worked in getting all the toxins out of my body,” he said
August said by the following day he already felt like a new person and that feeling had not left him for the past three months.
“I still take a tablet every day to suppress the cravings and I can tell you now, I don’t crave drugs or alcohol. To me this feels like a second chance at life.
“When I wake up in the morning, I have this feeling which I have never felt in the last 22 years,” he said.
August said it was all thanks to Pillay, his wife and family, who had, despite the hard times, tried their best to be there for him.
“Within the past three months, I have managed to restart my business and it’s doing well so far.
“Looking back to what I was, I can now safely say that I will never go back again, never,” he said
During his time as an addict, August said not once did he steal from people because despite his addiction, he still believed in God and would not use drugs when it was praying time.
“Maybe that is why God never left me and today I am clean of drugs.
“I still attend meetings at the Last Resort every Wednesday and Saturday and those meeting are really helpful,” he said.
August said he urged all addicts to seek help because no matter which drug they took, it was hard to get out of that addiction.
“If people think drugs are the answer, then what exactly is the question?
“That was the one thing I asked myself and I decided to turn my life around when I realised that there was no question to begin with.
“I was just wasting my life away. I had to change and I have,” he said.
another recovering addict says his life felt like it had already ended.
George Naidoo**, 25, of Chatsworth, said he was 19 when he started experimenting with drugs, and eventually moved to stronger drugs like heroin and cocaine.
“I struggled with this addiction for about four years and it was one of the hardest experiences of my life,” he said.
Naidoo said he had to have a fix every day or he would have been unable to do anything because of the agonising withdrawal pains.
“It got so bad that I would do anything to get a fix, which for me was stealing appliances and laptops,” he said.
“Anything that I could carry was as good as gone. I was not stealing from people, but robbing my own family.”
Naidoo said he could not even get out of bed because of the excruciating pain.
He said being on heroin made him into someone he did not like.
“I did really terrible things when I was high, which included smashing cars and tyres.
“It was about three months ago when Sam Pillay came to my home and spoke to me.
“I joined the five-day programme and I honestly have never looked back.
“My life has been a complete turnaround because while I was on drugs I felt like a nobody and caused so much pain to my family and to myself,” he said.
Naidoo said before joining the rehab centre, he had hit rock bottom and felt like he had no value in society.
“I have found a new job in the three months that I have been clean and I am definitely not looking back. I am completely over drugs,” he said.
January 29 2012
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