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Saved from the clutch of alcohol, drug addiction

FEATURES
By Michael Wesonga | August 9th 2012

By Michael Wesonga
She was only 12 when she discovered the taste of alcohol and loved it. Out of curiosity, Vicky Kones took a few sips of a whiskey on Christmas Eve of 1990 when she was in Standard Six.

Within no time, she was drawn into alcoholism — and later drugs — for more than 15 years. The good news is that Vicky is now rehabilitated and is helping other addicts find value in life.

After that first sip, Vicky never stopped drinking. By the time she was in Form Four at Moi Girls’ High School in Eldoret in 1996, she had become an alcoholic and unfortunately, no one noticed.

The school suspended her twice over misconduct and eventually expelled her in third term. She only went back to sit her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams and scored a ‘C’ grade.

Peer influence
Her parents, Beatrice and Kipkalya Kones (the late Member of Parliament for Bomet), tried to help her to qualify for admission to university by enrolling her at the Eldoret Polytechnic to upgrade her weak grades in June 1997.

It was while she was at the polytechnic that they found out about her drinking and promptly transferred her to Northwood University in Florida, USA, the following year.

The parents erroneously thought her friends made her start to drink and what better way to remove her from the bad influence than send her as far away from them as possible.

“My parents thought my peers caused my drinking. This was wrong. I was actually the one influencing my friends,” narrates Vicky, 34.

But Northwood was a place of much freedom; a mere change of venue, adequate finances and the same old habits. Immediately after the first semester, she dropped out of college and spent her days hanging out with like-minded addicts.

Allay worries
“I sourced money from home for seven years without being questioned what it was for until guilt and shame set in after seeing colleagues graduating and getting absorbed in key government positions back home,” Vicky regrets.

Driven by guilt, she assured her father all was well to allay his worries over the extended stay and asked for more money — some $12,000 (about Sh960,000 then) — that she hoped to use to start a new life but she wasted it all on her addiction.

Soon, her study tour came to an end and she was faced with deportation for lack of papers.

“Short of options, I married an African American in 2004 and gave birth to a son, Emmanuel, in December the same year. But I lacked interest in both my son and husband and found life very boring.

“My focused and ambitious husband, who married me because I had pretended my drinking was just social, got tired of my habit since he neither drunk nor smoked. He threatened to abandon me if I didn’t stop.”

When she didn’t change, her husband walked away along with their six-month-old son.

The man and his son carried anything; they just went away in the clothes they were wearing.

Vicky cried for three days but quickly went back to her drink “for consolation”.

Drink all day
“I wondered why I cried yet I was free again. In fact, I felt good when he changed his phone number and didn’t know where they were. I could drink all day and night but I felt nothing; it wasn’t getting me high.”

She got a new boyfriend, Rodney, with whom she cohabited and even got a daughter. He introduced her to the ‘real’ stuff — cocaine.

“Cocaine offered a form of new excitement. It was similar to what I felt when I first sipped my first liquor. It had a different high, quick reward, euphoria and it was free. I could not question why Rodney never used it himself. In fact, he drank very mild alcohol.”

Vicky eventually went to rehab after her father gave her a long lecture — he had gone to the US after someone at the Kenyan embassy in the US told him Vicky faced deportation.

“I realised I was on a $120 (Sh9,600) cocaine habit a day after Rodney’s arrest. To ensure I got the dosage, I became a con artist who passed on bad cheques to institutions and was once caught driving under the influence. I had lost status and gave out my daughter to the Department of Children and Families.”

She was on the path to recovery and had stayed for more than a year without touching the substances when her father died in a helicopter crash in 2008 and she re-lapsed.

When tragedy struck her family last year and she lost her brother, she decided she was going to turn her life around.

She joined the Haven Recovery Centre in Eldoret where she reclaimed her life. After recovery, Vicky decided to work with the centre, to help other addicts detoxify and lead normal lives.

So she got herself a job at the centre, as the head of clinicals.

Vicky is now studying for a diploma in addictions counselling and treatment. She and her husband are planning to re-marry later in the year.

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