Story of Joseph Njihia

Three women have decided to change the tide by walking where alcohol as treaded and salvage albeit a few a from the death trail. In their Foundation of Hope Rehabilitation Centre lives are changing as this writer recently found out. 

For Joseph Njihia sobieriety is like a dream he had yearned for so many years.  He looks older than 40 years but not yet married because he could not handle a family with his drinking problems. He is now celebrating a year of sobriety since he went into rehab in June 2011. It is from here that he was delivered from a 20 plus years of drinking problems.

This is a man who has experienced life in the fist lane and slept in the water drenched gulley of Dandora in search of a drink that could quench his thirst.

At his best he held a prestigious job with an international bank and at worst has slept in the dark alleys and trenches dead drunk. 

“The last 20 years read like a movie to me but I did not realise this was how far I had gone and can not believe it,” explains Njihia.

Peer pressure

Peer pressure in secondary school introduced the young lad to alcohol. A levels in a private school where discipline was never enforced saw him sink deeper into the drugs mess.

A bright star was still shining over him when he enrolled for an accounting course, passed and landed a job with the bank in 1990. 

With new found freedom, financial independence and prestige he mastered his drinking habits. He was well surrounded by friends who kept his drinking company in high end clubs. All this was to take toll on his job resulting in warning letters. With time he could miss work feign illness and get paid insurance claims for medication, all of which went to fund his nocturnal activities.

His new status of a well paying job brought about some prestige and of course his drinking buddies by his side. With time this took a toll on his job. With a few warning letters down the line, Njihia always had a reason to miss work. 

Clients Accounts

He could fake illness, go to the doctor and get a few days off while at the same time he would get insurance compensation for drugs. Of course this went along way into funding his drinking habits but could not last forever. With time he messed with clients accounts at the bank and was shown the door. Without a job or an income, Njihia who was already an addict had to look for a way out. 

“I was basically unemployable,” he explains.

He could no longer afford conventional beer and had to look for cheaper alternatives. The search for the affordable stuff took him away from home and to Dandora where the illicit brews were not only easily accessible but also affordable. He was to learn how to make the brews for survival, and it was during this time that Njihia lost contact with his entire family.

Dandora

But this freedom didn't last long as with time he could not longer afford cheap housing at Dandora. 

“The move to Dandora was the worst mistake I ever made - friends deserted me and I lost my entire family. I moved from high end pubs to ordinary bars to low class pubs and end up in illicit brews. I could not function without alcohol.” He says.

“East west home best” he walked back home to his parents who by this time he had caused so much pain.

By all this time Njihia could not sustain a relationship hence remained umarried. While working at the bank he had a girlfriend who deserted him because she could not withstand his drinking habits.

The prodigal son was warmly received by his parents and sisters but his return was to cause them untold pain. But the pain was a blessing in disguise and marked a turning point in his life. 

The family, fed up with his lifestyle, decided to have him rehabilitated but this news was not welcome to him. It took his brother in law to convince his that it was about re-branding him and not a punishment or imprisonment.

Rehab

June 14 2011 Njihia enrolled at the Foundation of Hope Addiction centre in kikuyu at 8.30 pm. He remembers vividly the day he calls his birthday. A week into the rehab Njihia had not smoked a single cigarette or drunk a pint. Three months down the line Njihia had completely turned his back to drinking.

"Rehabilitation is the best thing that has ever happened to my life. I did not realise I was an addict and I thank God because by now I would be dead. I do not know how I survived all the illicit drinks that I took. I did things that  make me shudder, some of them are so painful I would never have them put on print,” he explains.

"The painful memories of my yester years keep me sober."