For close to three years, one of the most talented Ugandan vocalists, Jackie Chandiru, was in a battle with drug addiction. It is never easy resurrecting from that deep pit but how did she win the battle?
To start with, it was never her intention to drop into the drug addiction phase of life but life’s circumstances dragged her towards a point of no return.
“Thugs attacked me at home and beat me up. I got injured and the pain was unbearable. I went to see a doctor and he gave me a drug. Within 30 seconds, the pain was gone.”
The pain was in her lower back and being a performer, it kept recurring when she performed. Whenever the pain would come back, she would use the drug.
The drug, in addition to relieving her of the pain, would also put her in the ‘zone’. Because of many traumatic moments she had gone through, the drug would help put her to rest.
Chandiru’s doctor, knowing that the drug (pathidine) had different side effects including a possibility of the user becoming addicted, refused to give her more prescriptions after a while.
Since she had money however, she would go to pharmacies and access the medicine. This went on for about five years and by the time she decided to quit, the drug had already destroyed her skin.
“I started with two shots, then five, then 10, then 20 a day. I would inject myself anywhere. I have a sensitive skin by nature and I ruined it. Whenever I would go for skin treatment, I always claimed I had been sick and the skin got spoilt because of a canular in treatment.“
In the fifth year, she realized she had already become addicted to the drug because every time she woke up, she would not desire food but the drug. It is around this time that she started getting convulsions.
Chandiru went ahead to reveal that her ex-husband was wealthy and he used to give her about Shs10m every month but she blew most of that on drugs.
Her journey back to recovery started with a near-death experience.
“One time I was crossing the road and I became stiff and fell. My sister Cynthia just ran away. She didn’t want to see her sister dead. My driver picked me and I regained consciousness after about three minutes. I didn’t remember anything that had just happened. I just saw people looking at me with this worried look but I didn’t care.”
On another day, while she was in the bathroom, she fell on the floor. She counts her blessings because with the way she hit her head on the toilet, she shouldn’t have been alive.
This called her mother to concern and she started checking her clothes and belongings to ensure she didn’t have the drug on her.
She also reached out to her husband and sent him a photo of the injections Jackie was using when he didn’t believe her but Chandiru was very discrete on how she used the drugs. It was hard to suspect her.
Her husband however later found out when he discovered a needle that Jackie had hid under the bed after giving herself a fix. Even then, she did not admit and only insisted that she had used it sometime back.
Her husband did not believe that because the needle looked to have been freshly used.
Everything happened so fast and she was admitted into rehab after being found lying almost lifeless in her house in 2006.
Her journey to recovery was not an easy one, especially with the media surrounding her private life but she managed to stay above the water and she is back to normal doing what she knows best.
She already has a new song out titled ‘Mi Ora Ku’. She has new management and she has appeared on several TV and radio stations telling her story and inspiring many youths.
She also performed at King Saha’s Biri Biri concert at Kyadondo Rugby Groundson 11th January. Everything seems to be back to normal and what a character she is to reckon!