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The Early Years by David Biggs

The Early Years by David Biggs

My task to write about my life before drugs has proved to be more challenging than originally thought. Before drugs….before I realised I was an addict? Before my first drug? Before I showed the signs and symptoms of an addict? Before I felt the inner desire to rebel? To be different? To love? To hate? Not so simple. So with these questions in mind I turned to Google. Type in “Why do people become drug addicts?” and lo and behold…Nope still no 1 answer. Yet somehow after reviewing a whole library of information I might have found some help in identifying common reasons people like me have become who we are. There seems to be 4 main culprits, and without a doubt I can see exactly where each one played its part in creating the monster I once was, and still battle every day. At this point let me clarify, yes I believe addiction is a disease, yet it’s a disease I gave myself, to deal with it I need to treat it like a disease, but it’s also one that with hindsight I probably could have avoided, so I am not taking away the choice factor, I chose this life and I don’t blame anyone for it.

So I will tackle each and see how they have contributed.


Some sources say 50% of a person’s vulnerability to addiction comes from genetics. Others say a person is 4 times more likely to become an addict or alcoholic if you have it in your family. So with this in mind I look back into my past. My one grandfather died of alcoholism…yup, in my family. My mom, and I love her dearly, is in my opinion, an alcoholic. She would never admit it, but if you need to have a glass of wine every day before lunch, I’d say that’s a problem. My dad is someone who is able to walk into a bar and order a diet coke, he has never spoken to me much about his dad, and I guess having a heavy alcoholic as a father must have been an unpleasant experience for him and his 3 brothers and sister.

Also in other parts of my family addiction runs strong. So there might be something to this genetics thing after all. I remember a story my mother once told me about how as a baby I had a collection of 8 dummies that I never wanted to part ways with. I had a collection around my neck that I loved, and the only way that it was possible for me to get rid of them was to make a big bonfire and show me how wonderful it looked when each one was thrown in and allowed to melt away, only for me to burst into tears once the last dummy had melted away. Sounds like similar situations I faced later on in life!

So you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends, which brings me to….


I remember when I was a young boy, I had a great group of friends. We were all sports and academics, but yet somehow we parted ways. I was sent to an all-boys school and it was there that I felt the need to become accepted by the kind of guys I thought were living an exciting and adventurous lifestyle. Hiding in trees and under bridges to sneak a cigarette in before and after school was what they did, so I followed suit, and excelled at it. I remember when I was 14, my best friend at the time decided to give me what I remember to be the first intervention of my life. It was simple, I had a choice. I could either go smoke weed with my friends, under the bridge of course, or I could go practice my cricket swings with him in the nets…well, needless to say, didn’t practice my swing.


1990 Apartheid ends, 1994 Nelson Mandela becomes President, 1995 South Africa wins rugby world cup…Great things happening for us as a nation and our people, Great reasons to celebrate! Also in 1995, the first raves and introduction of ecstasy, first trance parties, first 72 hr outdoor dance festivals. I was 15 then. Cape Town opened its first real 24 hr dance clubs, the gay party scene really took off, and we as young boys loved those clubs. We weren’t homosexual, not that that’s an issue, but we found our weekend getaway. Friday till Sunday became a blur of neon lights, loud music, free drinks and lots and lots of ecstasy. It was sport and I was a sportsman. I started working in a cocktail bar at the age of 16 and organised some of the first raves in Stellenbosch. Every weekend progressed to most of the week, and I loved it.


Ooooooh, the nasty ones. Who likes the bad guys? But every good story needs them. Everybody faces them, yet sometimes the scars never go away, sometimes the stories are simple and some are more intense. Some people see them as simple obstacles to overcome, challenges to be beaten. For others though, drugs and alcohol become the answer, the sweet salvation to the bitter pain. There is never any excuse for being an addict or justification for what the average addict does to get their fix, but when caught under the weight of intense trauma or abuse, the quickest and easiest solution to fix it seems obvious. It’s what the addict knows. I will share a lighter example of this. In 1998, I was in a severe motorbike accident, both legs broken in many places and my right leg needing bone and skin grafts and plastic surgery. I was in hospital for 3 months, 2 of which I was administered morphine daily. It relieved any and all pain. A few years later after suffering an episode of intense trauma I went in search of heroin. Up until this point I had never used it, but somehow almost on a subconscious level I craved for the fix that I knew only heavy opioid, of which heroin, morphine and most codeine based pharmaceuticals could provide. It worked, all my pain was gone. The first time I used was like saying hello to a long lost love, and goodbye to the last piece of me that was there- heroin had me, and she didn’t let go for a long time.

There is no one reason I became an addict, there is the possibility I was born this way, maybe I chose this life. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter, what does is how I got out, and that is for another day.

Watch out for the series of articles written by David Biggs, a recovering patient of Arca

The advantage of the ARCA JHB Medical Anti-Craving Treatment

New Approach In Addiction Therapy!


ARCA Jhb (Johannesburg) uses non-addicting anti-craving medical products as far as possible. This is the advantage, as many other current therapies for Opiate abuse is Methadone and Buprenorphine (Subutex and Suboxone) which is highly addictive in their own right. Hence the cure can then be the new addiction = Cross-addiction. This is the major reason why most substance abuse treatment providers are opposed to medical therapy – ARCA JHB’s Medical Anti-Craving Treatments are ” NON- Addictive”.

Why are Treatment Centres Afraid of Anti-Craving Medications?

Using What Works

Why do so many drug treatment centers continue to shun science by ignoring medications that ease the burden of withdrawal for many addicts? That’s the question posed in an article by Alison Knopf in the May-June issue of Addiction Professional, titled “The Medication Holdouts.”

“Nowhere else in medicine,” Knopf writes, “are the people who treat a condition so suspicious of the very medications designed to help the condition in which they specialize.”

Acamprosate, a drug used to treat alcoholism, is a good case in point. A dozen European studies examining thousands of alcohol test subjects found that the drug increased the number of days that most subjects were able to remain abstinent. But when a German drug maker decided to market the drug in the U.S., fierce advocates for drug-free addiction therapy came out in force, even though the drug was ultimately approved for use.

The non addictive anti-craving medication —the evidence for all of them is solid. Knopf cites the case of buprenorphine:

“‘There are scores of peer-reviewed journal articles that evaluate the success of buprenorphine,’ says Nicholas Reuter, MPH, senior public health adviser in the Division of Pharmacologic Therapies at the federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). ‘It’s well established that the data and the evidence are there. Not treating patients with a medication consigns most of them to relapse, adds Reuter. While some opioid-addicted patients, as many as 20 percent, do respond to abstinence-based therapy, ‘That still leaves us with the 80 percent who don’t,’ he says.”

Dr. Charles O’Brien, one the nation’s most respected addiction professionals and a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, is incensed that anti-craving medications are not more widely used. “It’s unethical not to use medications,” he says. “This is a subject that I feel very strongly about.” O’Brien told Addiction Professional he no longer cares who he offends on the subject. “If you’re discouraging people from taking medications, you are behaving in an unethical way; you are depriving your patients of a way to turn themselves around. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you have to keep your patients away from it.”

And at the Association for Addiction Professionals, “the prevailing philosophy is pro-medication,” Knopf writes. Misti Storie, education and training consultant for the group, told Knopf that the “disconnect” at treatment centers is due to a “lack of education about the connection between biology and addiction.” Counselors working in centers that do not allow anti-craving medications are in a tough spot, Storie acknowledged.

It is continually astonishing that treatment centers–where the primary goal is supposed to be the prevention of relapse, even though the success rate remains abysmal–would spurn medications that often help to accomplish precisely that goal. Relapse rates hover around 80%, by an amalgam of estimates, so it’s not like rehabs are wildly successful at what they do. What’s really behind the resistance?

What stands between many addicts and the new forms of treatment is “pharmacological Calvinism.” I would love to claim this term as my own, but it was coined by Cornell University researcher Gerald Klerman. Pharmacological Calvinism may be defined as the belief that treating any psychological symptoms with a pill is tantamount to ethical surrender, or, at the very least, a serious failure of will. As Peter Kramer quoted Klerman in Listening to Prozac: If a drug makes you feel better, then by definition “somehow it is morally wrong and the user is likely to suffer retribution with either dependence, liver damage, or chromosomal change, or some other form of medical-theological damnation.”

Check out Ocean Recovery Centre’s list of 80 top recovery blogs. This post list 80 of the Internet’s best addiction recovery blogs.