High ambitions up in smoke

The first time I ever smoked marijuana in my life is a day I will never forget. It’s the day I gave up control of myself and let the drugs take over.

  • 4 years ago
  • November 13, 2020
8 min read
A young man wearing a blue shirt and white pants smokes a joint on campus. Smoking on campus.

WINDHOEK, Namibia — When I was younger, I had dreams of one day owning and running the biggest company in my country, before I even knew how to spell the word company.

I have always had high ambitions. I carried them with me for most of my life and at one point I believed they would come true. Even though they have yet to materialize, I still think of those ambitions today.

That was then when I was younger and shielded from the darker side of life. All I knew back then was that my parents loved me and if I performed great in school, they would love me even more and shower me with gifts when my report card came.

I didn’t like the idea of school, but I knew how to make the best of it. Just like at home, the higher your test marks were the better the teachers treated you. Being multiple teachers’ favorite is a whole lot better than being just another child forced to sit quietly and memorize words.

I am a grown man and can decide for myself

Life happened and it happened fast, everything was new and shiny and the definition of seeing endless opportunities slowly but surely adopted a different meaning to me.

In primary school you learn about alcohol and drug abuse, the dangers and consequences that come with it, by the time you graduate from high school, all that knowledge becomes irrelevant as you slowly start to experiment with some type of drug, whether its alcohol or excessive porn, everyone has their own poison and way of getting off.

The first time I experimented with drugs was with a friend who I admired.

In high school, anyone older than you or a grade above you was considered a senior, and seniors were simply the coolest and always right. When my good friend and teammate one night asked if I want to take a ‘puff’ of his ‘blunt’ I said no. I had learned what drugs can do to you and personally, it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t something I was interested in.

He insisted I try it: “We are not even on school grounds right now, it’s just a plant, like an apple or green vegetable,” he said as he took another pull from his blunt.

“No, it’s OK, maybe another day, man,” I nervously replied.

I will never forget that fateful night and I will never forget what he said to me next, “When you are ready to be a man and decide for yourself, you will learn what life is, little man.”

I looked at him — he was barely 18, like me — and I wondered what he was talking about. I am a grown man and can decide for myself.

That was the first time I ever smoked marijuana and honestly, it is a day I will never forget. It’s the day I gave up control of myself and let the drugs take over.

A young man wearing a black Tupac t-shirt holds a black leather backpack in one hand.
Heading to my to school.

Life under the influence

I am addicted to drugs.

Yes, I am addicted to weed, marijuana, ganja, the green leaves, or whatever it’s called these days. It’s the first time I am openly admitting it, even on paper. I never thought for a second I would find myself in such a bad predicament.

Drugs will mess up your day. They will make you feel good for the moment but make no mistake, it still messes up your day. It’s not just the day actually, but also your night. You never dream when you sleep under the influence of drugs. Sometimes you don’t even notice when you fall asleep.

Of all the damage that a student can expect from being constantly under the influence of drugs, there are some that can’t be taken back, mostly time. You miss time to go to class, time to study, and even time to have meaningful relationships with your classmates. 

My situation has gotten so bad that I am spending money that’s meant for something else, like transport to school and food on marijuana and the worst part is that I keep telling myself it’s the last amount of money I will spend on marijuana. It never is. Every time marijuana is low, I spend more than I can afford.

Because of my addiction, I stopped reading, meditating, writing, and doing, really, anything. It’s like my whole strength and will power just vanished into flames.

There is nothing inside. There is no motivation for anything. It’s all smoke.

My dreams and goals of running the biggest company in the country are just that now and they have become a memory that I associate with my childhood.

Drugs took all of them away. Some days I can actually feel and see life going backward, yet I still smoke.

How I knew trouble was around the corner

I had one rule that I used as a safeguard, which was never to take any drugs when I had a test or exam, and when I am around my family, especially my parents.

This was the only rule I had to keep myself and those dearest to me safe and at peace. It was also a way to let myself know that I had control and that was I wasn’t addicted at all. It allowed me to think I could keep my drug use as a separate activity for the rest of my life.

I remember the first time I broke that rule, how I felt during and after crossing that line. I felt I had gotten away with the perfect crime: I wrote a test while I was under the influence of drugs. After spending most of the morning with my friends in their hostel room studying for the test we were going to write later that afternoon, we felt we knew enough to pass the test easily as we had studied really hard for it for the past week. I had a good feeling about it.

Before we left to go write, one of the guys jokingly suggested we take a hit before we go. We just laughed it off and continued packing away our books and material. He made the suggestion again, less jokingly this time. I spoke up and told them I don’t do that when I am going to write a test.

Lost my self-control

He heard me and continued to smoke up as we got ready to leave. Even though I had no desire to join him at that moment, I lost my self-control and asked him if I can take a hit before the test. That’s how it started.

We did end up passing that test very well, but ever since that day, I learned I don’t have as much control as I thought I had.

That continued happening throughout the year and before I knew it my marks started dropping drastically. I went from passing to not making it at all.

At first, I played it off, thinking the workload had just become more. But soon I found myself more outside the class than in the classroom and before I knew it I didn’t have a social circle and I fell behind.

I found myself feeling rejected by some of my classmates. By now most were well aware of what I was doing. I would ask for notes and help from them, but they refused to help because even when they did agree, I would show up intoxicated and waste their time. It was at this point that I knew I had lost all forms of control.

I was more distant than ever even though I would physically be present at home, mentally and emotionally I wasn’t there. There would be instances where we would be sitting around telling stories and I simply couldn’t relate or be present.

All I wanted was another hit to keep me sane or to keep up. I realized that I had pushed everyone away, and, more importantly, I had broken the rule I had imposed on myself.

To the lives that are not mine

I can’t maintain a relationship anymore because I am always high.

Throughout my struggle, I have met people who are supportive and have tried to help me with my addiction. I know they are affected too, but as I promised them all, I will come to good soon. 

To my parents and family: I still love and respect you, I really do, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart. This kills me as much as it kills you inside. I don’t like it either, but it is what it is and there is not much I can do. 

As the years progressed through my addiction, I finally learned what is on the other side of protection, love, and praise. I learned from all my struggles that there is just you, what you can control, and that it will always be you, only you can control yourself.

My future plans

I realize being on this road will likely end in tears and a lot of disappointment for myself and my family.

All this did not happen in a day. Gradually as the days went by, I indulged less and spent less time with my smoking buddies. It got to a point where I stopped going out and spending time around people. The less time I spent with them and the longer I stayed sober, the more clearly I noticed the error in my ways.

I finally decided to quit and close that chapter of my life. I deregistered from my course and cut ties with most of my friends.

Now to make sure I do not fall into the same cycle of drug use, I focus more on what I want to achieve, as opposed to having fun. I decided to get myself a mentor, someone who I can look up to not just professionally but in life in general.

This allowed me to spend my free time to be more productive and working under the guidance of my mentor to reach my goals.

The events in this story took place during my varsity years between 2015 and 2019, in Namibia at the University of Namibia.

It was my first time at university and having spent most of my teen years in a hostel and with the newfound freedom that I found I was a loose cannon wanting to try everything with everyone and that’s how I ended up mixing with the wrong crowd.

My parents never knew about this, they still don’t know but have always suspected something was wrong with me, especially since my behavior had changed too.

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