Experts have warned that life under Coronavirus lockdown could leave many people with drug addictions particularly vulnerable.
But one person who became dependent on the herbal leaf stimulant, khat, has told BBC OS on World Service radio that the lockdown has actually saved his life.
James, who lives in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, said his addiction began about a year ago and was just “harmless and fun” at first.
But he was soon going four days without sleep, missing work and surviving on energy drinks and painkillers.
“I was giving excuses,” he told the BBC, “everyone was started to get concerned. I just told them I was tired.”
When the first cases of Covid-19 in Kenya were announced, James says he and his friends were out at a club and laughed it off.
“Then they started closing down things and restricting interactions in clubs. I detested this because it cut links with my friends.”
However he soon realised lockdown was forcing him to give up his addiction:
“People who were influencing me [to take khat] were no longer there. I hadn’t called my parents for three or four weeks. I decided to stay clean so that when my dad called, he would not notice I was chewing. I know Covid has been tragic for many people, but for me it has given me a second chance at life.”