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 Saturday 15 December 2007
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Abdullah Ali: "I need to get off the drug to remain HIV-negative"
November 2007 (PlusNews)

Photo: Keishamaza Rukikaire/IRIN
A sachet of ‘white crest’, or crystal heroin
MALINDI, Abdullah Ali*, 55, has been hooked on heroin for close to 15 years. In rehabilitation for the fifth time in as many years, he spoke to IRIN/PlusNews about his struggle with addiction.

"The first time I smoked the cocktail of white crest [crystal heroin] and marijuana, I didn't know what was in it. I was a habitual marijuana smoker and this trader one day came from Mombasa and got me and my friends - we were a group of boat builders - and took us to his house to smoke.

"We stayed at his house smoking for about one week; we thought it was just weed. After a while he had to go to Mombasa to replenish his supply. As soon as he left, my friends and I fell very ill; we were weak, all had diarrhoea and were constantly vomiting. When we went to the hospital, they did tests but could not find anything wrong with us.

"When our friend and supplier came back, he was immediately told of our condition. He told everyone not to worry - he knew how to fix what was wrong with us. He came to my house and gave me what I still thought was weed; I immediately felt better, re-energised. This was when he told me that it was not actually a simple weed cigarette, but a cocktail of marijuana and heroin.

"Since then, I have been hooked on the cocktail. I have never injected heroin, but my life is still wasted. The drug has destroyed my life. My wife and children barely know me, and my boat-building business has collapsed because everyone knows that I'm an addict.

"When I'm high, I sleep with so many women, I don't care where I spend the night and I barely eat. I rarely use a condom, and yet I continue to sleep with my wife ... heroin has made me into an uncaring, selfish person.

"My brother has taken care of my family, and has sent me to rehab four times. It was free till last year, but now it costs a lot of money, so I know this is the last time he'll try to save me.

"When I came to rehab, my counsellor advised me to go for an HIV test. I was very scared; I knew the risks I'd taken. Mercifully, Allah has allowed me to remain HIV-negative. I need this time in rehab to work, because I want to be a good husband, father and provider. I need to stop risking everything to get high."


*Names have been changed


[The above testimony is provided by IRIN, a humanitarian news service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]

IRIN welcomes editorial and photographic submissions for inclusion on this page, reserving the right to select and edit as appropriate.
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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.