A young girl named Sera, (not her real name) was introduced to drugs by her boyfriend, and her life took a totally different turn. Thanks to the Medically Assisted Therapy (MAT) programme, she is now a paralegal.

An Interview by Lynn Sereya

I lived through primary and high school education without any interruption. Trouble begun after I completed my high school education. Just like all young people, I wanted to explore different things in life. It was a good time away from the confines of a boarding school life.

With youthfulness, time on your side and freedom that comes with adulthood, I was literally out to discover. I travelled to Mombasa, Kenya to try out life with the hopes of securing an employment. No sooner had I settled than love came knocking at my doorstep. I went with the flow not knowing that this was the beginning of my woes.

My then boyfriend was just like any other boyfriend. We did everything a ‘normal’ couple would do. However, my boyfriend would change my life compass completely.  He introduced me to partying life and bhang, a thrilling adventure that I thought would be temporary. Isn’t that what most young people do? Being experimental? My adventure turned out to be not just different, but life threatening.  Sadly, I found out this much later after parting ways with my partner.

Anything for my next fix

One night, after partying with a newfound foreign boyfriend, we retired to the hotel and all hell broke loose. I began to experience muscle spasms, nervousness and craving for drugs. This was a no brainer to my boyfriend, as he told me that I was undergoing heroine withdrawal symptoms. Of course, the relationship never lasted. From then on, I would trade anything to get my next fix.

It is at this point that it dawned to me that my first boyfriend used to mix my drugs with heroine and just like that, I had been enslaved. This would be my life going forward. On countless times I have been homeless, slept in drains, sold all my belongings just to get the next fix. You see, what people don’t tell you is that these drugs – especially the likes of heroine – reduce an individual to a zombie and very few if any have completely broken free from its imprisonment. 

Expensive remedy

In an effort to change my life, I was introduced to methadone to help me break away from heroin.  While it was a great idea, it wasn’t sustainable because I was required  to pay for the services, yet I couldn’t afford. Luckily, two years later, I met Esther of Support for Addictions Prevention and Treatment in Africa (SAPTA) who took me into her (Medically Assisted Therapy) MAT programme.

At the Centre, I was also enrolled to a college where I trained as a paralegal. Today I am a staff in one of the organization’s centres as a paralegal personnel. I was weaned from Heroine, thanks to the MAT programme and I have resumed normal life just like any other person working towards the greater good of our society. I still use methadone because that’s what helps me to be sober.

Out of the reforms, I have mentored many young people who get inspired to stay in the programme through my story. My story is just one among many others of survivors who’ve escaped the trappings of hard drugs.

Let’s do more

However, a lot more needs to be done to reach the ever-growing community of people who use or inject drugs. The demand for these services is high against a very low supply. I implore institutions, donors and governments to increase such clinics. This will mitigate challenges such as new HIV infection and risky criminal behaviors associated with drug use.

We appreciate support from the National AIDS Control Council and other stakeholders who work hard towards encouraging and implementing programmes to end gender-based violence, new HIV infections and teen pregnancies. This has ensured sustained and indiscriminate service delivery.

Under the multisectoral response approach coordinated by National AIDS Control Council (NACC), up to 10 MAT clinics in 7 Counties with 4 facilities were set up by National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP).