KUALA LUMPUR: Working as a personal investor back in the late 1980s, Samuel Wong was doing well financially and was able to support his addiction to drugs.
An addict since his schooldays, Wong had been sent by his parents to a private rehabilitation centre when he was a teenager but he could not stay off the heroin and ganja he was taking.
His addiction greatly affected his relationship with his family.
“I come from a loving family but because of my addiction, I felt guilty and could not mix freely with them,” said Wong, 47.
“I felt that I could go back only if I changed my ways,” he said, adding that he would drive by his parents’ house during the Chinese New Year, hoping to catch a glimpse of them.
The turning point in his life came when he was robbed at gunpoint in his house one day.
When the robbery occurred, he was taking a joint, which the robbers noticed.
The robbers broke into his house a few more times after that.
“Probably they knew that since I was an addict, I would not report the break-ins to the police and that’s why they kept coming back,” Wong said.
The subsequent break-ins took their toll on Wong’s wife, who went into depression.
“I was losing her and that was the time I said ‘enough’ (to drugs),” he said.
Wong sought help from a church and eventually enrolled into a Christian drug rehabilitation centre.
When he was finally free from his addiction, he returned home to meet his parents for the first time in 15 years.
By then, however, his mother had passed away and Wong deeply regrets what he has lost as a result of his drug abuse.
Wong is now working fulltime with Malaysian Care’s drug rehabilitation and prison ministry to help other addicts overcome their dependence on drugs.
He is also part of the Klang Valley Alliance (KVA), a group of eight Christian rehabilitation centres formed in October 2000 to provide support for one another in their quest to prevent the relapse of rehabilitated addicts.
The centres are Rumah Petros (which is under Malaysian Care), Green Pastures, New Creation Home and Kenosis Home in Kuala Lumpur; Christian Care Centre in Subang; and Cornerstone, Disciple House and Grace Centre in Klang. All the centres are registered with the National Drug Agency (NDA).
“KVA was set up because Christian drug centres needed to come together for mutual support and find ways to encourage one another,” said Daniel Lew, a former drug user who is a co-ordinator with Rumah Petros.
“It is also a platform for sharing problems, giving support to graduates (of rehabilitation centres) and providing staff training. Through this close working relationship, we can build a strong network,” said Lew, 51.
Bob Leong, a leader with Kenosis Home, said one of the main factors behind relapse was the lack of support and fellowship among rehabilitation centres.
“Once a person finishes a programme, they should stick to the community of rehab centres first before going back into the world,” said Leong, 38, also a former drug user.
“Most of the time, people who have finished their programme do not have a home and family to go back to,” said Leong.
For this reason, he added, KVA set up a place called KVA House at Jalan Kuchai Lama specifically for graduates of the programme to stay there temporarily.
To give further encouragement to former addicts, KVA held its first graduates’ night yesterday at Luther House in Petaling Jaya.
“This annual event gives the graduates a sense of self worth,” said Lew.
Briton Jeff Matthews, 58, who heads Green Pastures, said: “It is encouraging to meet like that and to see that others have made it and are okay. New graduates will see some older graduates who have made it for as long as 15 to 18 years.”
KVA recently did a short survey on existing Christian drug rehabilitation centres in Peninsular Malaysia.
The 36 centres surveyed housed 692 residents, 94 of whom who were HIV-positive.
The total number of graduates from these centres as of the end of last year was 1,834.
The success rate of the rehabilitation centres under KVA varies.
Among the highest is enjoyed by Green Pastures with an average of 65%.
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