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He dropped out because of alcohol

Often, we see both young and older people ruined by alcohol, wasting their lives away, just like the saying goes in Kinyarwanda: Uyikura mu kabindi ikagukura mu bagabo meaning to say alcohol destroys you.

When someone becomes addicted to alcohol and turns into what we call a drunkard, they lose respect among others and no longer have a say in matters. The family starts to shun them, feeling ashamed of their relationship.

All of this is a true story for Alain Nshimiyimana, who became addicted to alcohol at a young age, to the point where it rendered him incapable of completing university.

We often hear about people affected by the consequences of alcoholism, even leading to deaths. The Rwandan government, in tackling this issue, has increased efforts in various activities, particularly encouraging the youth to avoid alcoholism.

During a youth forum held this Friday, in front of various leaders and youths from different parts of Rwanda, Nshimiyimana shared his experiences.

This 26-year-old man from Butare grew up in a home where his parents drank alcohol, but the children were not allowed to.

In high school, he found himself in a group where they began drinking alcohol, thinking it was the trendy thing to do.

He says that during high school, they would sneak out to bring alcohol into the school. He asserts that becoming addicted to alcohol isn’t something that happens instantly.

He says, ‘I didn’t get addicted from the first bottle, not the second, nor the third. It was after many times. It starts slowly; addiction doesn’t happen immediately.’

Although he managed to complete high school, university was a different story. Nshimiyimana says that in university, he began drinking alcohol every day, making it impossible to study.

He says, ‘When you transition to life outside school after high school, you feel more free. You use the little money your family gives you to buy alcohol. There’s no school principal to monitor you; you feel totally free.’

He talks about how excessive drinking leads to failing in school, unable to continue with jobs, and becoming a burden to one’s family.

He says, ‘As you get more addicted to alcohol, your life deteriorates to the point where you feel worthless.’

He continues, ‘I tried to commit suicide more than once. I saw the progress my classmates made while I had dropped out of school due to alcohol, and I felt hopeless.’

Moreover, Nshimiyimana reached a point where he sold everything he owned to get money for drinking. Once his possessions were gone, he began stealing from relatives and even friends.

He found himself ostracized because he had sold their possessions for alcohol.

Despite running out of money, he never stopped drinking.

He says, ‘There were times I would go to a bar, and my family would be called to come and pay because I had drunk without paying. Then they would have to come, take me home, and pay for what I had drunk.’

Nshimiyimana’s journey was not easy at all, both for him and his family. They ostracized him, making him sleep alone in an outside house. These were not easy times for him.

He began to despair and felt very lonely, thinking his life was undoubtedly over. During the days he spent alone and ostracized, he thought of ways to escape the grip of alcoholism.

He sought help from rehabilitation centers for substance abuse and spent four months and fifteen days there.

He says, ‘Because I had lied so much at home, they didn’t believe me when I said I wanted to go to a rehabilitation center. My father didn’t understand at first, but after a day, he agreed and took me there. I spent four months and fifteen days.’

Nshimiyimana, now running an organization called Save Lives Foundation that promotes awareness against substance abuse, says he founded this organization because of his experiences.

He works with schools, teaching youth to avoid drugs, especially alcohol, because of its harmful effects.

To all youths who think drinking alcohol is harmless, Nshimiyimana advises caution, as it starts with one bottle and ends in addiction.

He says, ‘There’s no benefit in using alcohol; it doesn’t add value to those addicted. It’s better to avoid it early on, and those who haven’t started should never begin.'”

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