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Daring to dream again: John Theuri

John Theuri is a patient at MSF´s Methadone Assisted Therapy (MAT) clinic in Kiambu, set up to reduce harm amongst people who use drugs. Coming to the clinic and getting off heroin has changed his life, allowing him to be welcomed back into his family. In commemoration of the International Overdose Awareness Day, marked annually on August 31st to raise awareness of overdoses, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends, John shares his story.

John Theuri, 23 years, lives with his younger brother in Wangige in Kiambu county, Kenya. He started using heroin in 2019 just after finishing high school.

“I was introduced by my friend, he bought the drug the first time we used together. After that, I started buying it for myself. I was done with high school at that moment and I was working in a carwash, which is where I got the money to buy the drug. My parents did not know then, they came to find out later,” Theuri explains.

When he started using heroin he ran away from home and started living on the streets. His family members had chased him out of the house after he stole from them. On the streets, life was very difficult, to the point where he got tired of using heroin.

"One day my sisters came to visit me. They told me if I left the street they would set up a business for me. I decided to quit because the drugs made it impossible to go home and be with my family during holidays like Christmas, because I had burnt all the bridges with my family and I missed them."

Despite this intention, it was hard to stop using heroin as he was heavily addicted.

"It took me five months to decide to stop. I came here to the MAT clinic and started taking methadone. When I stopped using, I was able to go back home. As promised my sisters bought me a weighing scale to do business, alongside selling sweets and masks," Theuri says.

In future, he would love to take up a course in welding and get his own shop. He says he never wants to go back to using drugs.

"I would tell young people to never start using heroin or any other drugs. I would not wish what I have gone through onto anyone else. When you don´t take the drug, your body experiences so much pain and you feel sick and very weak," Theuri adds.

He says that being in the MAT clinic has really helped him transform, and he is hopeful that this transformation will continue as he continues to go through counseling and continues to stay off heroin.

"I would like to thank MSF for the services they provide at the MAT clinic. They have helped me to get back together with my family. I would still love to meet my father and talk to him because I feel like he hates me. I would love to tell him that I have reformed, and I would never call another person a father."

Opened in September 2019, the MSF Methadone Assisted Therapy (MAT) clinic in Karuri aims to reduce the morbidity and mortality of people addicted to heroin.  The facility incorporates opioid substitution therapy and outpatient care including services for HIV, TB, mental health, wound care, sexual and reproductive health, NCDs, Hepatitis C, social support, and counselling. Currently, MSF has enrolled 455 patients into the program.

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