On Sunday, residents of Lambeau were invited to learn from and share in the experience of comedian and entertainer Errol Fabien who this year celebrates 30 years of being drug free.
At a talk shop hosted by representative for Lambeau/Signal Hill, Sports Secretary Jomo Pitt at the Lambeau Multipurpose Centre, Fabien told residents gathered his story of becoming a drug addict and his journey of recovery.
He told of his humble beginnings growing up in Gonzales Village, Guapo, to his life as an entertainer and owner of Gayelle television station. He recalled the first time he used marijuana and how addiction led him down a winding road of drug abuse.
“In Form Two, I catch my big brother with one of he partners and they had a joint of marijuana. I say, aye! I see allyuh and I know what allyuh have, I going and tell mammy. Now telling mammy is strategic ‘cause when mammy hear that, he (big brother) getting a cuttail one time, and when daddy come home he would get a next one for sure, so he getting two for the price of one.
“In my mind I seeing mammy, I seeing him crying from the licks, I seeing me in the corner laughing and I telling him I go tell and he saying no! and I saying Yes! he say no, you could come and smoke with us. I said okay! and that’s how I went to get my first smoke.”
Fabien said drugs would never be offered by strangers.
“... let me tell you parents and children, no stranger is going to offer you or your children drugs, it is a close friend or a family member will offer you drugs.”
He said marijuana, seen as “the herb of knowledge, wisdom and understanding…when I smoke it was supposed to open my mind to the cosmos and invite the universe.”
“I live with an illness called addiction and like all illnesses there is a clinical definition for the disease …repeating an action or an experience in spite of negative consequences, so you can form an addiction with anything there is no such thing as a healthy addiction because once it’s an addiction, there are negative consequences.”
Fabien said he realised he has a serious problem when took the gold hoop earrings off his daughters’ ears to sell.
“Is three of them and each one of them had a pair of gold hoops and I take out my children’s earrings. I leave those innocent babies by themselves lock up in that house, reached San Juan, Port-of-Spain and sell that gold, leave there and went by the pusher man and buy drugs...
“I was 25 years old at the time and that’s the first time I tell myself I had a problem. I was so far gone, cause my babies were crying and bawling they hungry, they dirty, they frighten, I was so far gone there was nothing I could do about that on my own...
“I couldn’t just stop…And a day my wife come home with a form for me to go into a drug rehab centre and I end up in the drug rehab centre in front a panel...
“Rehab is not for who need it, it’s for who want it and when they interview me they realised I don’t want it and they decided they were not accepting me,” he said.
Fabien said a recovering addict was on the panel, and he urged other member to reconsider, telling them “I know that fella (Fabien), he’s an entertainer and if we can touch his life, he could touch other lives.”
“And that is why up to today, when I get a call to come and talk, I does reach,” he said.
Fabien said his drive and willingness to become drug free eventually led to a clean and sober life.
Noting that he was currently working on helping the Government of St Lucia set up a drug rehabilitation centre, he wondered why not set up one in Tobago too.
“… we have the expertise, we have people who are trained and … there is a need,” he said.
He said such a centre could help persons to learn skills to live after rehab.
“We need to put these things in place and I want to do that with my life,” he said.
He said he goes to at least 24 schools a year to talk to children about drug abuse and when a community calls “I does come because when I was a young man, nobody came to me to talk to me about drugs, nobody told me, ‘young man if you abuse drugs you will end up in jail, in an institution, in a dustbin or dead.
“I not asking you, I’m telling you.”