My father’s drinking drove me into drugs
People who suffer from alcohol use disorders often do not realise the effects that their drinking has on other individuals. And, often, it’s the people who are closest to the person with alcoholism who suffer the most. This can include children and spouses.
Children of alcoholics often face a number of emotional and environmental factors that may increase their risk of growing up to develop alcoholism themselves.
Dora Obwaka, 28 is one such child. Having a parent who suffered alcoholism was an endless disappointment.
“You know, the most difficult thing is that you cannot discard your drunkard parent and get another one. So you still love them for who they are. You only learn to accept that it is not really ‘them’ it’s the alcohol, and you’re hopeful the horrors will all end soon,” she says.
It is the hopeful ending that kept her going, even when the process was confusing and distracting and sad.
Her father never got better; he would drink himself to death and chose to spend time in the bar as opposed to being home with them.
“I would get bullied a lot by other children and it really affected me. My whole life growing up was characterised by rejection so I lived struggling to gain acceptance and fit in,” she says. Obwaka endured chronic and extreme levels of tension and stress as the result of growing up in the home with a parent struggling with alcohol abuse.
“I began to feel as though I was responsible for my father’s problem,” she says.
She realised the full impact many years later when she had drowned into alcoholism herself. It was even worse for her because she also experimented with even stronger drugs. Drug abuse for her started as a way to fend off rejection. She started hanging out with friends who introduced her to drugs at only 17 years.
“I felt I could identify myself with those friends because they made me feel accepted and loved, but this happened to be the worst mistake I ever made,” she recalls.
“I felt good when I got drunk. I forgot about my frustrations at home and I felt like my friends liked me more. In fact, I got myself a boyfriend who would finance my habit,” she remembers.
At 18, she had become even bolder and she started seeking more ways of getting high. Soon she began smoking up to 10 ciggerates a day, then she progressed to smoking bhang and using heroin.
To sustain her habit, Obwaka had a resorted to stealing everything she found on her way at home such as home appliances to buy drugs. Nothing ever mattered to her than drugs did.
Her turn around came after years of persistent cries by her mother who kept saying she feared she was going to lose her. She also started experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms whenever she could not access her much needed drugs
“One time during a trip to Masaai Mara National park, I literally saw myself dying. I had not carried with me enough drugs to last me the whole trip and the result was terrible. I sweated profusely, had a running stomach and vomited all in one instant. I just cannot explain the feeling,” says Obwaka.
In November 2018, she made up her mind to go for rehabilitation. “My mother spoke words of encouragement to me just when I was about to hit rock bottom and I decided to change,” she says.
Obwaka says that life after rehab hasn’t been easy because she has had to change her environment and her friends and just lead a different life from before.