I was always in trouble with the law and at home because of my desire to drink and smoke. I would make up stories just to get money out of people to buy alcohol, cigarettes and party with friends. If I couldn’t get funds, I would steal from my mum.
When I turned 21, I got married, but because of the constant drinking we would argue a lot. This resulted in us going our separate ways. I mixed with the wrong crowd and couldn’t hold a job for long because of my drinking. I would be too drunk to get up for work.
Eventually, I moved out of home. At the time I thought it was right thing to do, but I ended up getting arrested for drunk driving and for drinking in public. My wife would bail me out—this happened more than five times. My friends deserted me, none of them were around to help me out and none ever bailed me out.
My wife and I reconciled and we moved in with her family. I got a job and things were looking up, but I was still drinking. I got arrested again. My wife didn’t know, she found out from the Police. And she bailed me out again.
My wife’s family didn’t want me around anymore, so I left and my wife followed. We got our own place and had a child together, but the drinking continued. I occasionally attended church, but was not fully committed. It was just a thing to do on Sunday.
It was then that my sister-in-law informed me of The Salvation Army’s Alcohol and Drug Awareness Centre (ADAC) programme, so I signed up to attend the 10-week course. It was there that I learnt about control. How to control my anger, my drinking, my smoking and my drug intake. I learnt about the 12 Step recovery programme. I learnt to value myself and my life. As a result, I am more confident about myself.
I have since joined ‘Fili Tonu’ (‘Right Choice’), which is run by the Tonga Family Health Association, where we perform drama and dance that teach about the dangers of drinking, domestic violence, drugs and other harmful choices. I now feel I need to share what I have learnt in the ADAC programme with the youth and everyone in my community.
My family has seen a change in me and I have a newfound drive to go to work every day. I am so grateful to The Salvation Army for their help in my life.
By Michael Tomu