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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Workshop focuses on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse


On 11 May 2009, Steve Hamilton, a survivor of drug and alcohol abuse, shared his life experience with an audience of staff and students of CPUT.

The staff and students were taken aback when Steve revealed that he was pronounced clinically dead three times, spent time in eleven psychiatric institutions and drug rehabilitation centres, has been imprisoned twice and lost many friends to drugs and alcohol.

Hamilton’s psychodrama began at the age of 13 where he spent much of his youth and young adulthood fighting his personal battle with drug addiction. He was expelled from school in Grade 9 and armed with a criminal record for possession of dagga and other illegal substances, including dealing and was later sent to the army.

During his military training, he continued to take drugs and supplied them to other users. Hamilton was then sent to the Angolan border until his experiences further traumatized him and led him to a spell in a psychiatric ward in Pretoria. Here, he moved deeper and deeper into the drugging underworld and eventually left the army.

Hamilton’s’s drug abuse, drug dealing and lack of education and skills provided no assistance to him finding employment.

On 1 September 1987, he was admitted to his last rehabilitation centre at age 27. Since then, it became his personal crusade to help people fight the war against addiction. “I needed to make a choice. I wanted my life back,” said Hamilton as he explained his next venture into recovery.

In 2002, Hamilton was proposed by a ‘ghost writer’ to write a book about his addiction. Titled I Want My Life Back, this book has sold close to 15 000 copies and holds its 7th impression in South Africa. I Want My Life Back has also been published in the USA in all 52 states by the publishing arm of the world renowned Hazelden rehabilitation and treatment centre.

“One is too many and a thousand is never enough,” was on everyone’s minds and tongues at the end of the programme. Hamilton’s graphic analogies kept the audience on their toes as he made a point to drive home what drugs and alcohol did to him.

During a demonstration with the audience, Hamilton said, “The first choice you made without thinking. The second, some of you cheated and the third, most paused and then thought about it.” CPUT staff and students were weary, only to realise the dangers of making hasty decisions thereafter.

Hamilton is a recognised authority on chemical abuse, appears regularly on radio, television and media publications and has received numerous awards, including an international “Citizen if the Year” award by Lions International. In addition, Hamilton has been working continually in South African schools, colleges and companies for over 19 years.

Hamilton’s workshop was organised by the Student Affairs department as part of their Life Skills training, which is provided free of charge to all CPUT students under Student Development.

By Shamielah Daries

Photo: Steve Hamilton signs his book ‘I Want My Life Back’ alongside a CPUT student who attended the workshop.

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za