Mothering an addict jolts you to the reality that your child will be an outcast, woman says
Smoke billows and hides faces of teenagers huddled under a tree in Kasarani village, Kilifi.
One of them puffs a stick of marijuana and lets smoke out of his nose.
Residents are used to the sight of young people using drugs.
Mariam Kahindi, mother of 24-year-old Bakari who started using heroine when he was barely 16, says parenting a teen addict is the worst experience she has gone through.
“We did not know he was on drugs until he was expelled in high school. He was performing well and was disciplined, so you can imagine my shock when I was told he was an addict,” says Kahindi.
They tried getting Bakari admission to other schools, but he often got into trouble for disciplinary issues relating to drug abuse. He registered as a private candidate and scored C.
Things spiraled soon after when Bakari got into petty crime to sustain his addiction. No amount of punishment would make him change his ways.
Ms Kahindi was criticised for the way ward ways of his son and others openly told her she has failed as a mother.
“I was always worried that he might be killed. A day would not end before someone rushed to tell me to go and pick him from where he had been abandoned after being beaten and wounded,” she says.
When he started stealing from her, people told her the family was cursed.
Kahindi admits that she made some mistakes, including giving him money to buy heroine when he exhibited withdrawal symptoms.
“He would come home angry and bitter at everyone. His only demand was heroine. I gave out my gold necklaces and earrings to get money to quech his addiction while hoping that one day he will quit,” she says.
She adds that it was a journey full of heartbreaks. Bakari would tearfully swear to quit only to take drugs a few days later.
“He was desperate to stop. He brought a herbalist who convinced me that he would cure his addiction. I paid Sh700 and he was given a bottle with a fluid to take in portions but this did not also work,” she says, highlighting how access for help to addicts is hard.
When herbalists failed, they turned to clergy frequently to pray for him. Nothing worked.
“One morning he went to steal and was beaten. He was left for the dead. His friend called me but I told him Bakari is better dead than making me go through a painful life,” she says.
That near death experience was a turning point. Bakari registered at the Mewa Drug treatment centre and started his recovery journey.
Kahindi says mothering an addict jolts you to the reality that your child will always be an outcast. She says some people tell her that her son’s history of addiction will deny him a wife.
One of the biggest lessons she learnt when parenting an addict is to show them love.