June 25, 2008

Durban-Cape Town, South Africa,
By Rivonia Naidu

Mike Naidoo, a recovering alcoholic, is passionate about sharing his story with the world.

The 60-year-old businessman, formerly from Sydenham, Durban, believes sharing the life experiences of drug addicts and alcoholics who have been successfully rehabilitated motivates others who are in "desperate need of help to get the help they need".

Speaking at a seminar held last week on Naltrexone, a non-addictive treatment that prevents alcohol and drug addicts from continuing their habits, Naidoo told of how in 1965 at the age of 16 he became an alcoholic, and of how his addiction was a "disease" he carried with him for a long time.

The father of six, who is currently on Naltrexone, said if he wasn't drinking his life away, he would smoke dagga and gamble non-stop.

"It was a bad phase of my life. Then in 1972 I made the decision to quit drinking and attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but I relapsed in 1984 after staying sober for 12 years.

"This time my problem was worse. My wife and I divorced, but even when I remarried, I could not rid myself of these terrible habits. In 1988, I went back into AA and remained sober until 1995 and after that my drinking problem was an on and off thing," he said.

Because he could not stop his addictions, Naidoo said he began using Naltrexone in January this year.

Dr Percy Menzies, a world-wide expert in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction who presented the Naltrexone seminar, said the intention of developing Naltrexone was to create a non-addictive treatment that eliminated cravings and prevented drug and alcohol addicts from relapsing when faced with temptations.

He said the treatment method not only comprised non-addicting, anti-craving medications, but incorporated behavioural therapies to achieve "significantly better outcomes than conventional treatments".

Naidoo said the Naltrexone treatment had helped him and "done a lot for his life".

"I was informed about the treatment by a local doctor, but because it's not available in South Africa, I've bought the tablets from India and it cost me about 50 rupees (about R10 a tablet).

"The good thing is that for the past six months, I've been sober, but it is important for people to know that therapy must accompany the medication - that is how I am coping," he said.

An emotional Naidoo also said it broke his heart to see that his 26-year-old son was now a heroin addict.

"About a month ago he began the treatment and it appears to be helping him, but I hope he can recover fully, and not have cravings and be tempted back into the habit," he said.

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