Access to harm reduction helped me recover my self-esteem – Jaime’s story

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I am Jaime Sivie, 30 years old. I live with my family in Maputo City, Katembe Municipal district. I have a medium course in accounting and I am also a technician in electronic security systems (CCTV). 

I started using drugs 10 years ago because of the influence of my friends in the neighborhood. I started using cannabis sativa and years later, specifically in 2017, I started using heroin. In the same year, I started working and as I already had a drug dependence, I used almost all the money I earned at work to buy heroin. 

When I started using heroin I smoked moderately, between one and two bangs a day, for the first three months. The following months I started using heroin in high doses, about 7 to 8 bangs a day. In practice I already had a dependence. I would leave the house very early and stay all day smoking and only return to the house to sleep. I started not being interested in school, much less homework, and lost interest in dating due to heroin dependence.

Because of tthis, I sometimes did not go to work because first I had to kill the dependence and only then work.  My physical appearance changed a lot, which led my boss to fire me from my job because I often didn’t go to work and when I did I always found excuses to leave early because I was already totally dependent on drugs.

With the loss of my job, and as I already had a dependence, I would take things from the house and sell them to get some money to use the drugs. This situation caused me to have disagreements with my family and almost no one wanted me at home anymore. In October 2019, I separated from my girlfriend because of the dependence and lack of attention to her and because of dedicating my life to kill the daily drug dependence that was consuming my time and other activities.

In 2019 I was arrested by the police as I was found in possession of two bangs of heroin, in the Mafalala area, when I was taking it for my own consumption at home. It happened that on the way I was questioned by two police officers, they searched me, found the drugs and then took me to the 6th police station, where I was incarcerated for one night. Early on they called me and told me to call my relatives in order to pay for my release or my case would be forwarded to legalise my arrest at the Maputo City Judicial Court. Afraid of being arrested, I called my family and explained the situation I was in and asked them to pay the amount of 2,000.00MT that they asked to release me. Hours later, the police released me on payment of the amount requested.  Another time I was with a friend when we were leaving the boca in Mafalala, we were questioned by the police, who then searched us and, as they didn’t find anything in our pockets, they took us to the police station and presented us with a drug whose origin we didn’t know, claiming that it was with us because we were leaving the area where drugs are sold. We denied that it was our drugs, but as we were already at the police station we had to pay some value to be released. 

During this period 2017-2019 my life was dedicated to looking for money to use drugs. As I already had some problems at home and with my girlfriend for having a drug dependence, when I heard about the Mafalala Dropping-In-Center for people who use drugs, I approached them and tried to find out how they could help me quit heroin? They explained to me about the Methadone Programme and I became interested and applied. I was on the waiting list for about 3 months and then they called me to start me on methadone. 

Eight months after I started on opiate substitution therapy (methadone), everything started to change, I stopped using heroin and my life perspectives started to improve and I became accepted again, which has contributed a lot to improve my self-esteem, and respect from my family and girlfriend. 


Jaime’s story was collected by REAJUD – Rede de Ajuda aos Usuários de Droga. It was translated from Portugese using DeepL.com, and edited for clarity.