Groot Aub-Annamarie* (not her real name) started using drugs three and a half years ago when she was involved in a romantic relationship.
At the time, Annamarie had no idea that the relationship would be the cause of her downfall.
Looking back, Annamarie says she agreed to the relationship out of desperation for love.
But not long into the relationship, Annamarie’s lover started revealing his true colours.
“Whenever he smoked he would blow it into my mouth,” she says, sharing that it had a “negative effect” on her.
“I never did anything out of my own free will,” she states, saying at one point he “sold me for drugs” in exchange for sex.
The man whom she referred to as a friend for most part of our discussion had initially introduced Annamarie to mandrax.
“He forced me to smoke it even though I told him that I did not like it.”
“I wasn’t hooked the first time but I felt very vulnerable and it had a negative effect on me,” adds the 43-year-old woman.
The former boyfriend who was a member of the notorious Rooi Oog (Red Eye) gang then introduced her to crack cocaine. Again, she asserts, she was coerced into an addictive habit.
“I only found out six months into the relationship that he at one point belonged to the Rooi Oog.”
At that point he threatened to kill her if she left him. And that is when her life started falling apart.
“The second night I was begging them (boyfriend and drug buddies) that I wanted some more. I was begging them that ‘I want’ and I didn’t care if I was making noise, I just wanted,” said Annamarie, explaining that in the drug world crack cocaine is known as ‘Eat Sum More.’ That is because crack cocaine is highly addictive.
The next thing she knew, she was using all types of drugs. Meanwhile, her relationship was torn apart as she tried to please both her lover and family who at that point wanted nothing to do with her.
At one time she had an overdose. “I had an overdose of skenk (compressed dagga) and crack cocaine, smoking both in less than five minutes apart and the next thing I knew I was feeling very hot and removed some of my clothes.”
She says she almost died but her lover did not bother to take her to hospital for fear of arrest.
“I could feel my eyes closing but I forced them to remain open, and as I felt the heat I almost ran to the shower to take a cold bath, but my drug mates discouraged me from doing that because it would have killed me. I could hear his friend telling him to take me to hospital because I was getting pale but he refused and he instead swore at me and called me names.”
The situation was out of hand, she recalls with pain in her eyes. It was so bad that her then boyfriend would insert mandrax tablets into her vagina. This would arouse him sexually but at the same time it increased her sexual drive.Her lover had an equally high, but violent, sex drive whereby he would insert objects such as empty roll-on containers into her vagina just to arouse himself sexually.
“I had to push that thing out as if I was pushing a baby and he just sat there and watched.”
She says women often stay in abusive relationships out of desperation for a man and also when they hear the words ‘I love you.’
“The moment a woman hears the words ‘I love you’ she just crumbles, the heart melts,” she said when asked why she remained in the relationship knowing the man was abusive.
“I caught him sleeping with schoolgirls who were about 15 years old,” she added. The girls are lured into using drugs by older men who would later sleep with them.
She said that at one point after they had both used drugs he sold her off to drug merchants after he couldn’t pay them.
“He sold me,” she said in a brave tone of voice. “He almost killed me because I refused. I told him I do not sleep with men I don’t know.”
Annamarie knew it was time to change her life around when her mother died from the pain that resulted from her addictions.
“I didn’t tell my mother that I’m doing drugs but she must have heard somewhere.” Not only did her mother die but the relationship with her children soured.
“My family wanted nothing to do with me. They called me all sorts of names – my children even said I was a slut.”
But to her surprise, Annamarie was rejected by a certain church where she went for help.
“I reached a point where I said I will continue with drugs because God does not want me, and I cried out to God but things didn’t change immediately.
“Drugs make you a beggar, a liar, drugs make you paranoid, hallucinate, it puts you in dark corners, lose appetite. I lost so much weight. I was a size 38 but in one month I became a size 26 and I looked older.
“Sometimes I would sleep on my mother’s stoep because he was very abusive. I tried every kind of drug on the market except tik (crystal meth).”
Tik is dangerous because it is mixed with any other substance, e.g. heroin.
“That’s why we get so many pregnancies amongst young people because where there are drugs involved there is sexual activity, and they do not care with whom they sleep as long as the sexual desire is fulfilled,” said the woman.
Most of the drug suppliers in Namibia are foreigners, mainly Congolese and some Nigerians, she says.
“There are very few Namibians who supply the drugs. Most of them are merchants and drug abusers,” she explained.
“When I realized my downfall I just had to stop.” That was when she decided to do something about her situation. Annamarie, who has been drug-free for one year, said she has never been to a rehabilitation centre. However, with the help of her pastor her life started changing.
Meanwhile, the head of the Namibian Police Force (Nampol) Drug Law Enforcement Division, Fabian Musweu, warned that using drugs has negative consequences for users.
Other than contributing to contracting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, the drugs also contribute to families falling apart, eroding society’s moral fabric.
Drugs do not discriminate, he added.
“For the suppliers there is money involved. Five grams of crack cocaine is worth almost N$2,500. It’s a lot of money. Drug dealers are driving Porsche cars and live in nice houses. The users are the actual losers in this. Once they are addicted they keep buying until they become sick,” a concerned Musweu said.
* Not her real name. Identity withheld to protect her from possible discrimination.