By Justin Dalton…
I thought I had it all at one stage. Fun, partying, money, girls and popularity. I always seemed — focus on seemed — to have the best of every situation. A bigger smooth talker you just could not find. I used to pride myself on the fact that I could talk my way out of any given situation that I found myself in. For every obvious sign of addiction I had an excuse. Hell it got to the point that I didn’t really give a crap that people or colleagues knew. To put it bluntly, I was out of control.
I was born in Uitenhage, a small town just outside of Port Elizabeth in the eastern cape, South Africa. I was a product of a broken marriage, and I showed a rebellious streak from a young age. That being said I never lacked anything growing up; my upper middle class upbringing only fueled my delusion. There were so many things I should have been grateful for: a good education, cosy and plush home life. Yet I always thought I was hard done by.
High school was where drugging started for me. Nothing more intense than weed and alcohol at the time, but lots and lots of it. Being sporty I was always in the limelight, adding substance to the situation gives you a greater indication as to why.
It wasn’t until varsity that I started doing heavier drugs. I met this smoking hot Greek model, went back to her place, and she gave me my first line. Given the combination of coke, a Greek goddess and my addictive nature, I never stood a chance.
In 2012 my life crumbled for the first time. I was working 9 to 5 as an IT sales consultant, the money was good but I absolutely hated my job. This and the fact that I had just come out of a long-distance relationship with a German exchange student pushed me over the edge. I became Mr Party Boy. My nighttime job at the time was doing marketing and guest list for a couple of popular clubs in Cape Town, so, as you could imagine, I had free reign to a plethora of substances. During the week it was coke and MDMA every night; over the weekend, at outdoors or trance parties, it was a mixture of coke, MDMA, acid, khat and whatever else was available. For me the party just never stopped. I was the go-to guy if you wanted to get into a club for free, I had all the right connections, I knew all the right people. To me this was awesome at the time. The attention I was getting just fueled my addiction, the lists of women were endless. Nights became mornings, mornings became nights. In the interim I lost my IT job, my main source of income, and I ended up pretty much flat broke. This didn’t matter to me. I was a hustler. Anything was workable. So even after months of not earning a cent, I still managed to get my hands on whatever I wanted. Women, drugs whatever.
This stage of my life came to an end when I ripped off some gangsters at a trance party, heard I had a hit out on my name, and so thought rehab might be a good idea. You know, just to hide away for awhile.
This was the start of a quieter portion of my life. Well at least for about 6 months. I had to stop using when I moved back home with my parents, had no money and no job.
Then I met a woman, a crazy addict just like me, and we hit it off immediately. She was attractive, fun and the life of a party. I secured a job at an advertising brokerage at that time. The reason I call it that is because it looked and felt like I was living in the Boiler Room or The Wolf of Wall Street. I was making a ton of money and so were my colleagues. We were wild, without a care in the world. Oh there is a problem? Just throw some money at it. Solved.
This leads me to my second life-halting drug-induced meltdown. Whereas I was making a small fortune I was also consuming enough drugs daily to fell a small elephant. I was partying with club owners in their penthouses, I was with just about every model in Cape Town. I felt I owned the nightlife scene. The outdoor scene as well. I suppose this was where a majority of the drugs got consumed anyway. LSD and MDMA on tap. Strippers bumping and grinding. It was intoxicating. But I was in control of my addiction so it didn’t matter… right? I was such an empty shell.
In early May 2015, things started to fall apart a second time. We had booked all the rooms of the 17th floor of a popular hotel in Cape Town. There was piles of crack and coke and people I had never met, and honestly care never to meet again. I emptied my bank account that weekend. Of no concern I thought, I’m in sales I’ll just make the money back next week. The only thing I didn’t consider was that my mind was becoming such a mess that I was screwing up at work. From being one of the top salesman before May, all of a sudden I couldn’t sell a thing. I started to hustle all my friends. 2012 all over again. It worked for a while. My mates were all making a packet. So on went the party.
My last weekend of partying went like this. I had just been fired again. However, they didn’t follow proper procedure, so I got paid out on the Thursday morning the week after being fired. Thursday night I emptied my pockets all over again on Peruvian. This was clearly a habit of mine. I was partying like a rockstar with some heavy white collar gangsters. The night was a mess, I ended up waking up in a hotel room without any recollection of how I got there. On Friday I went out with a mate who wanted to have his last major blowout for awhile that weekend. We bumped into an old girlfriend of mine, she was a mess, she had lost her keys, her wallet, everything. She had just gone through a breakup so we wanted to help her and be there for her. In the end we were all too wasted to help at all. I knew this was going to be a bad night.
We went from club to club and the night went from bad to worse. It ended with her falling out of her 3-storey apartment window. She survived, but that was sheer luck. As she hit the concrete floor it was as if my heart had been crushed by a cinder block. My friend and I were crying. You always hear of situations like this, you judge people that find themselves in situations like this. Now it was us in this predicament. I remember the blanket of shame that enveloped me as I had to face the neighbors and people crowding about. They didn’t know the details, but I am sure it was written all over our faces. Drug addicts who took a night out one step too far. I was worried about hiding the bag of cocaine before the ambulance arrived — more worried about that than about my ex-girlfriend. I still get a rush of guilt remembering. As I started sobering up two days later I decided to stop drugs for good. I was becoming a heartless monster. My addiction died right there and then. I just couldn’t do this anymore. Sooner or later my chances would run out. I had been stabbed, knocked over by a car, chased by gangsters…and now this. I couldn’t stomach the idea of seeing an incident like this happen in front of my eyes ever again. No way, no more, that was it.
The day I quit drugs, I happened to meet the love of my life as well. I had left my charger at a club in town, so I set off to a mate to use his. On the way there I passed another mate who picked me up and took me to his on/off girlfriend’s place. As soon as I stepped into the house I saw the most beautiful girl I had ever met. I knew right then and there that this would be the woman I would want to marry one day. Yet another reason to stay clear from the narcotics. I wanted a sustainable wholesome existence now. I didn’t know it at the time but I had started my campaign against drugs, not just my own recovery. Initially I just wanted to stop for myself. However if I could just go cold turkey after so many years of drug abuse within an instant, perhaps I could assist others to do the exact same thing. It seemed like everything was part of a divine plan. It just fell into place and felt right. I found spirituality, my path to enlightenment had begun. It had its ups and downs, but it was unlike anything I had experienced up until then. It was real.
However after two months of being high on life, depression sunk in. I just could not drag myself out of the hole I was in. Thinking that just giving up drugs and turning my life around was enough had proven to be bit of a delusion. I knew I had to do more than this. Giving up drugs was difficult, but it actually was more difficult coming to terms with just how different life was all of a sudden. I couldn’t party anymore. I lost 95% of my friends and my comfort zones had all but disappeared.
It was after I had been clean for 4 months that my girlfiend and myself came up with the idea to start Addicts2Life. It’s still in its infancy but it is a start. Basically it is an NPO, a charity, fundraising, an opportunity to give back to the community. It hasn’t quite been launched yet, but I’m in the process of doing just that. I want to use my misguided life to show others that drugs lead only to chaos and destruction. It might start off as fun, but utimately the price you have to pay is not worth it. To put it mildly I basically have a PHD in how not to live your life, so now I want to devote my life to advocating against drugs. Initially I just wanted to focus on helping addicts, but the reality is that addiction is the result of many different factors. Be it poverty, abuse, lack of education, boredom, or even just inquisitiveness. My aim is to raise funds for the less than fortunate, the impoverished, families who have been hit by addiction, women and children who suffer from abuse. These are the people I want to help. This is how I want to spend my life. In the pursuit of something real, unlike the life I once lead.
Another part of my new direction is motivational speaking. At the end of January I am giving my first talk at my old high school. I am quite excited to see where this goes. Hopefully this turns out to be a success and I will be able to speak at schools on a regular basis. I want to make an impact on impressionable minds at an early stage. I want to make a difference.