Duane Carabott started using drugs when he was just 13. He was a full-blown heroin addict by the time he was 17, and while he is clean today, he says that fending off temptation is still a daily struggle.
Carabott described this struggle in an interview that aired during the current affairs programme Awla on ONE.
Carabott’s story is heartbreaking for a number of reasons, primarily the fact that at a very young age he was exposed to realities he should never have been exposed to and which he was definitely not equipped to deal with.
“I started using drugs when I was 13. I immediately started with the heavy one, heroin. From a very young age I aspired to live that type of life,” Carabott told Farrugia.
He said that this was to a large extent the result of the impression left on him by his mother’s boyfriend at the time.
“I would look at his tattoo-covered body and I’d go with him to the Detox Centre…I wanted to be the same, covered in tattoos and to live the same type of lifestyle. That is what I wanted my identity to be” Carabott recounted.
“That was my dream. Some people wanted to be a pilot but that was my dream.”
He described how he started stealing and getting into all sorts of trouble. “Then, when I was 13 my mother’s boyfriend went to jail and it was like I wanted to carry on all that he had left behind.”
Carabott’s account of how he came to try heroin for the first time is also shocking. He said that his intention was to buy cannabis. “I remember that the person I had given the money to to buy the drugs came back and said ‘he only has smack’. I replied, ‘ok sure that’ll do’.”
That day set him off on a trajectory that would change his life forever.
Being just 13 at the time, Carabott said he and his friends had no idea how to use it. “We sniffed it. I remember throwing up repeatedly and stuff like this, but I liked it…it felt like escaping, I found the thing, I was looking for in my life. To escape from the pain I had, from society, from lots of other things….I would prefer having it than a girlfriend, or any other person, for that matter.”
He explained how by the time he was 17 his addiction had taken complete control of his life, forcing his mother to take action.
She tricked him into a consultation with Caritas, and despite his initial resistance, he was eventually convinced to enter a drug rehabilitation programme. He checked into the San Blas rehabilitation centre, spending 11 months there and was seemingly making progress, but with a month to go before the programme was due to end, he relapsed.
He said that he had lied to the administrators of the centre and had told them that he would be going to Gozo for the weekend with his family. In reality, he went to Gozo with his friends.
“There was a lot of alcohol and other substances. Some of my friends were going to a party and, like the addict that I am, I was tempted. I ended up going to the party with them,” he said, adding that at that point he felt that he wanted to go back to his life with drugs.
Carabott has since entered a rehabilitation programme another three times and has been clean for some time now but he stressed that this didn’t mean it was all behind him.
“I’ve been trying to stop for years now, and even when I’m doing well, I still get thoughts. I was having thoughts last night in fact,” he said.
“I’ve learned that what is important is not whether you get the thoughts, but what you do with them.”
How does this make you feel?