Kenneth Kamau, 34, a reformed substance addict, lived quite the rock star lifestyle until 2012 when he decided to make some changes.

Before checking himself into Teen Challenge Kenya rehab centre in Ridgeways Nairobi, Kamau’s substance abuse started early.

“I was expelled from two different high schools because of substance abuse, drug abuse, and selling liquor to other students.”

His addiction led him to a downward spiral that saw him lose his job in 2005 and constantly steal from his parents. He also sold his household items and drank his Sh320,000 bob severance package down to the last cent.

To sustain his habit, Kamau also got into petty theft.

When he almost died in Nairobi because of his alcohol addiction and rough living, his family took him in. Again. But the vicious cycle worsened.

“At that point, my father gave up. He told me that he had tried in vain to help me, and he had now given me permission to drink myself to death.”

Three months later, in December 2008, Kenneth’s father died.

“Those last words haunted me so much. Years passed but what spurred me to change my life was when in 2012, I saw a friend whose life had been ruined because of substance and drug abuse.

“He looked good…and clean. I had to find out how he had gotten his life together. And that is how I learnt about Teen Challenge Kenya (TCK).”

“I got into the one-year program. The program is voluntary, which is why it has a high success rate. It is a Christian program.

After six weeks, I was allowed one five-minute phone call over the weekend, but I could only speak to an immediate family member. They also allowed for a visit from an immediate family member.”

In the fourth month, he was allowed to go home for one day, and he was accompanied by a member of the staff of TCK.

In the last month, clients are there only from Monday to Thursday, and they go home over the weekend. This is how they start reintegrating persons into the society.

Today, Kamau is a counsellor at the centre.

TCK is a faith-based 12-month residential rehab for men and women, 18 years and above. TCK was started in 1998 by John and Ann Martins, and the institution now has one women’s and two centres for men.