Andrew Fortune describes 26 March 2007 as “one of the darkest days of my life’” – the day on which he phoned his brother from a “Tik” house in Worcester, in a stage of meths-induced paranoia.
But it is also a day he remembers as the one on which he turned his drug habit over to God, in deep and utter desperation.
Andrew hasn’t turned into your average Bible-punching, soul-saving Christian, but he explains: “I don’t care what you call the all-encompassing Higher Power. I prefer to call it God, because that works for me. It is my personal experience of God that has helped me through hell and put me on the road to recovery. On 26 March this year I will be dry for a year!”
“When I woke up that morning and asked for God’s help”, my brother Howard said: “Now keep quiet, shut up and let God go to work.”
Andrew checked himself into the rehabilitation centre, Serenity, and tells: “This is a time that called for strength and courage, because they lock you up and break you down. The first thing you do, obviously, is to stop taking drugs. They change your diet and of course you’re not allowed to drink alcohol, because alcohol reminds the body of drugs, it’s a catalyst for something stronger. Cigarettes could be earned at times.”
“Importantly,” Andrew continues, “the rehab centre brings you in touch with yourself, because through admitting to your problem and knowing all about your problem are two major steps to recovery.”
“They took me back to my childhood,’” he explains. “My father died when we were very young and my mother became completely dependant on other people, including my big brother, who worked his butt off to keep the family going.”
“It is very likely that in my later years I kept picking woman who would be dependent on me, like my dear mother was dependent on others. As it happened this is the way I got involved in drugs, being with women who needed me for survival and ended up drugging with me.”
“Sex, and drugs, they go together for most druggies, and I haven’t been allowed to have sex since I stated my rehab. In my wild days I could take my stuff and go on for hours and hours, pleasing several girls a night. I believed I was a stallion, but I needed the drugs to make me the king in bed. I used people, I used women to feed my demon.”
Serenity, he says, changed his arrogance to humbleness, his fear to love. These are the keys. “I stopped running from my demons. The demon is inside all of us, but it only takes over when you feed it. Don’t feed it!”
And so, Andrew comes to the specific things he follows in his never-ending quest to deal with his addiction to drugs. “First,” he explains,”I trust God fully to help me every day of my life. Second, I speak to God every day, I pray when I get up and I ask for help. Thirdly I take every day as it comes. There is no tomorrow, just today. I get through every day stronger and stronger.”
“I attend two meetings a day, seven days a week. We do group work. Everyone has a ‘sponsor’, a person who has been rehabilitated for years. We help each other, we rely on each other. On any day, any of us can fall back into the habit. That’s the way it is. There are people here who have been ‘dry’ for 20 years. Even they can suffer relapses!’”
Along with all of this, he says, comes a commitment to help others. “This is why I have told you all of this. I believe that my terrible experiences can help other addicted people. I am an example to others. I see myself setting up my own, informative website in the near future, a medium to help those who need help. I want to do public speaking and I want to physically go out and help those in need. It is my duty and part of my life’s work which is unfolding before me.”
Andrew Fortune speaks with much conviction and his sincerity and commitment is nothing short of staggering. He has come to a place where his endless energy is being channeled in the right direction. And he loves it.
What, however, will prevent him from relapsing like he has done so often in the past. Why won’t it happen again this time round?
“If you want guarantees, go to Sanlam or Old Mutual,” he quips. “There are no guarantees. I exist now on a day-to-day basis. I live through one day and go on to the next. There are no coincidences. God brought me to this platform of my life and I have never been stronger, healthier or more positive. I will use my every surviving day to the best of my ability, because every day s given to me by the Grace of God.”
Extract by Charl Pretorious from freeracer.co.za