Ronnie, Male, 49 Written by Ranjit
Every day I wake up thanking God for the meaningful life that I am living today. Sometimes I think it’s a dream. I am so grateful for my family and my job, and look forward to getting married to my girlfriend. I cannot believe the life I have now. It’s not that there are no problems but I now have the ability to handle them by simply trusting in God. I can safely say that I have lost the desire to use drugs or gamble again.
If you know my story, you would agree that I came back from the dead, because for almost 20 years of my life, I was caught in a web of drug and gambling addiction. I was not living but merely existing. I was in and out of prison more than five times for drugs, gambling and other criminal offences. My life revolved around gambling dens, using drugs and getting involved in gang fights. I am so grateful that I am still alive today as I could have been killed or died from a drug overdose.
As a young boy, I was always a thrill-seeker looking for fun laced with danger. I joined gangs at an early age of 12. My father was a taxi driver who gambled and drank alcohol regularly. Our whole family knew that he was also a womaniser. Whenever he lost in gambling, he would come back home and create problems for the family. He would also come back drunk and quarrel with my mother. I always wanted to stay out of the house as often as possible and spent my time with my friends.
I learnt to smoke tobacco and drink alcohol since I was 12. I also started to gamble and work at the gambling dens as a runner. It was fun and I started earning money, which led me to neglect my studies. After primary six, I lost interest in studies and stopped attending school despite my family encouraging me to continue with my education. I felt that I was in control of my life and I could take care of myself. I was also accepted as a member of a gang.
I started using heroin after my National Service (NS). Heroin built up my confidence and helped me lose my inhibitions. To pay for the drugs, I started to be involved in many illegal activities, which got me arrested and imprisoned for more than five times. I also felt connected with like-minded people in prison and many times, I would go back to my vices not long after I was released.
As I grew older, I started to reflect on my life and felt that I needed to change my lifestyle as I was not getting any younger. I decided to stay away from drugs and gambling but I could only do so for a few months. I also lived in fear as I owed loan sharks a huge sum of money. I would carry a knife to protect myself whenever I was out. I was also paranoid and on constant alert thinking that the police and officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) were monitoring me.
My lowest point was after my last release from prison. Despite my effort to do something about my life before it was too late, I soon went back to drugs and in my despair, thought of ending my life.
I was a living corpse and my life became totally meaningless.
Fortunately, I met someone who was a former drug addict. He advised me to seek treatment. I remembered telling the doctor at the clinic for addiction treatment that if he did not admit me immediately on that day, I would end my life right there and then. During the two weeks of hospitalisation, the doctors and counsellors were very helpful. They taught me to understand my condition and suggested ways for me to seek recovery. I was referred to a Christian halfway house upon discharge from the ward.
My life started to change at the halfway house. It was not easy initially but I was able to adapt to the new environment and lifestyle because of the support I received there. I found God which made all the difference in my life and helped me change. Through the therapy and counselling, I started asking the right questions about my life. I realised it was not so much about how a person should quit but why he should quit, and once I could answer the question, I was on the way to quit drugs and gambling for good. It was the pain of addiction that made me want to find the answers. After a year of therapy and counselling at the halfway house, the social worker found me a job as a driver which I am still currently doing.
It has been four years now and I have been able to stay free from drugs and gambling. I do not even entertain the thought of using drugs or gambling casually. I attend church every Sunday with some of my family members. It is my relationship and foundation in God that is helping me to live victoriously over drugs and gambling every day. I have made many new friends in church as well. I also visit the halfway house regularly to share my experiences and impart hope to the residents. It is very therapeutic for me, because when I share, I am reminded of my past and it helps me to strengthen my recovery. I know there are many out there who are like me in the past – confused, angry and unheard – and I want to offer hope to them.
Today I enjoy spending time with my family and there is a lot of catching up to do. I feel so blessed that my family members trust me completely. I am also grateful that I have found a partner that I want to spend the rest of my life with. I know that I have been given a new lease of life by the grace of God and I hope to spend it wisely.
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