TERESA KANGOGO from Kericho Cluster runs The Palm Tree Wellness Centre in Kenya - a residential addiction recovery centre for men.
Most people don’t understand that addiction is a disease. Once you understand that, then you're in a position to help someone.
Alcoholism and addiction cuts across society. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. Educated or not. American, British or African. Even if an addict is put on an island all on their own, they'll still brew their own drink.
I come from an alcoholic family. A family is an interconnected system – when one part is sick, then we are all sick. When one person recovers, the entire family – and even the community – recovers too. This is why family therapy is important. Once a month at our centre, family members gather to discuss how they're feeling. We heal together.
The men at the centre call me ‘Mama Strawberry’ because I bring them strawberries. We are a family here. Many of us who've recovered from addiction and maintained our sobriety will often return to the centre to encourage others. Some of our counsellors are recovering addicts themselves.
Our centre is located outside of Kericho, so the men cannot access drugs. This is crucial for the body to readjust itself, but this physical aspect is the easy bit. Dealing with the emotional aspect is much harder. This is why our programme is about understanding ourselves and the reasons we wake up in the morning.
Recovery never ends. There is no point where you can say you are now healed from addiction, because addiction is at the core of a person. You have to remind yourself, we are always at the risk of going back.
This journey of recovery is a spiritual one. Without God, you really cannot survive recovery. We focus on building that connection between ourselves and our God. As much as we might have our own ways of trying to deal with alcoholism, we understand God is the ultimate person who can bring relief from this disease.
Listen to our podcast episode on men's mental health here.