“I think all addicts know when things are going out of control.
For me I knew it was past the point of no return when I stopped sleeping.
I literally only slept once a week.
I was all over the place.
Drugs ran my life and that was all that there was.
I think there's a point where you change from taking drugs to being a junkie - and being addicted becomes your life, and that's what I became, a proper junkie.
My drugs of choice were cat (methcathinone) and cocaine.
I lived for the high.
I had plenty of nights where I couldn't remember a thing.
I had blurs of weeks and months. It's that nothingness and meaningless which for me was always the worst.
The feeling that you wasted so much for so long is something you can't comprehend.
On top of the drugs, I also enjoyed alcohol.
Drinking was secondary to my drug problem though.
When I was younger, I did binge drink quite a bit but really my drug problem was the more dangerous thing. It was only when I hit rock bottom and spent a weekend in a holding cell that I realised I need change in my life.
I was exhausted by just being alive.
I knew that I needed to get my mind and body right. I had reached a point where nothing mattered and I didn't want to exist anymore.
You reach a low and you either get up or you stay down.
I wanted to get back up and fight while I still could.
I decided to check myself into Houghton House rehab.
It was really tough in the beginning. Giving something up that had become a focus in my life was massive.
It was rebuilding myself, and pushing forward to be something better.
It's like you become a different person and you have to deal with who you were.
It's really tough to get through without hiding behind another line or another drink.
I was also lucky to have a sponsor who became a very good friend to me and still is.
This year is my 11th year sober. It's been a wonderful journey. Never easy, but always rewarding. I've been lucky that I've had a lot of guys stick with it along the way and we've shared the journey as we've gone.
It's not just a lifestyle change, it's a mind-set change and what you get for pushing through is amazing.
These days I stay far away from drugs and don't even touch a drop of alcohol.
It's not worth the risk. One is too many and a thousand is never enough.
Drug addiction changed who I was and masked me from the world for a very long time. It numbed me to life.
Recovery though changed me for the better and made me who I am today.
I learnt a lot about myself and who I really am fighting to stay clean.
I missed a lot and had a lot of bad decisions in my life, I can't change what I've done - but recovery now allows me to become a better me going forward.
Dirk Vale - Johannesburg
The Saturday Star