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Conquering the Silent Killer

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Did you know that one person dies every ten seconds from an alcohol related illness? Or that alcohol kills more people than the top three killer diseases of modern times? These are the current World Health Organization statistics released last month.

Alcohol addiction treatment- Despite alcoholism being viewed as a self-inflicted condition, I have personal evidence that it is very easy to slip into this disease, get tangled in it and struggle for freedom. My experience is based on three things that stood out for me and still remain valid as elements that many struggle with.

First – I grew up in a family with an alcohol problem. My grandfather, my dad and all my uncles were alcoholics. It was like growing up in a constant happy hour. My dad who was a strict disciplinarian when sober converted into a very welcoming person while drunk. I liked his sense of humor and generosity especially when under the influence of alcohol. In this state he would let loose and I could ask for anything I wanted. I greatly admired his drunken self. It is no wonder that I kept thinking ‘When I grow up I want to be drunk just like my Dad’

Fast forward into my early adult life. Immediately after college in the year 2000, I worked at the international Rescue Committee as their lead visual aid designer earning a hefty salary. I was 20 years old then with much more money than I needed. Most of my drinking buddies were my former schoolmates and we were young and very promising with the stamina to work and with even more stamina to drink throughout the night. This vicious cycle went on for a while and I comforted myself that I was drinking because I despised boredom and night clubs were the only places I could find happy people ready to socialize. I fooled myself into believing I was in control of my life and was not a drunkard. Needless to say I was wrong…….dead wrong. This was the second thing I noted about the ease of slipping into alcoholism whilst surrounded by loose money, loose friends and loose social activities.

Alcoholism dependence- I was drowning in my addiction. It was eight years down the line and I had reached the stage where my friends and I would order Chang’aa – an illegally brewed drink from a friend’s rural home in western Kenya. Drinking had become a daily ritual and the consequences of it, started to follow as each one of us fell deep into its trap. I was hospitalized for three days in critical condition after my drink was spiked at a night club. My best friend Noah lost his job as a district planning Officer and Rodgers who had by now graduated to hard drugs got jailed for possession of cocaine. This is the third piece of evidence that years can go by and what started as a casual drink had translated into a serious disease to contend with.

My turning point came on the morning of 1st May 2006 after a chance encounter with Mr. David Ogot who confessed he was a recovering alcoholic and introduced me to his organization Going Home Dot Com. I have never looked back and I am now alcohol free.
NACADA estimates that the half of the alcohol and drug abusers in Kenya are between 10-29 years old. This evidence points to Kenya’s drinking problem being fuelled by peer pressure and easy accessibility to alcohol. Alcoholism is a disease and should be treated likewise. Any one of us can so easily slip into it unknowingly.
It is my appeal to everyone world over to know that alcoholism can be overcome and it is never too late to get your loved ones and friends the help they need to recover and revert to being loving and productive members of society. So the next time you see that alcoholic friend, neighbour, family member, workmate or colleague, do not stigmatize them for that could so easily be you or me. And no matter how severe their condition, do not give up on them, for in the wise words of Nelson Mandela – “It always seems impossible until it done”

Sam Kanyi is a creative entrepreneur – founder and director at Samkan Arts and Frames that provide unique and exceptional art work, framing products and art services. 0722265210

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