13 February 2018

Namibia: Recovering Alcoholic Uses Art to Deal With Addiction

Swakopmund — Having endured the hardships of life that have left him at the mercy of the cold streets of Walvis Bay, recovering alcoholic Anthony Slinger, is finding solace in art as a form of healing to help him on his difficult journey to kick his habit.

The 45-year-old Slinger who has been living on the streets of Walvis Bay for as long as he can remember, says that he has experienced his fair share of hardships in life and is now ready to pick up the pieces to see him transition to a law-abiding citizen, after he rehabilitates himself from alcohol addiction.

He has now turned to art as part of his recovery process and spends hours creating artwork from wood, cardboard and match pieces he collects.

This, he says, not only keeps him busy, but it also motivates him to stay away from alcohol and its ruinous consequences.

He has been clean for almost a year and says his biggest achievement was resisting touching alcohol during the Christmas holiday last year.

Sharing his life drama with New Era on Friday, Slinger, who is also asthmatic, said he has been in and out of prison for various petty criminal offences of which he is not proud of.

"As a result, I could not hold down a job. Hence, I could not afford to live in a decent place."

He said that his family also lost faith in him, resulting in him turning to the streets as his home and alcohol as his friend.

Slinger started sleeping on the streets and in the parks where he would also collect empty bottles and any kind of material he could sell to get money to feed his habit.

"My life revolved around drinking. Sometimes I would pass out and only wake up in prison or with wounds. Sometimes I would end up in hospital and only to learn later on that I suffered an asthma attack. That is how heavy I used to drink. However, I decided to stop drinking last year," he said.

According to Slinger, nothing extraordinary happened, only that together with a couple of his drinking buddies, they decided to stop imbibing.

"I was just tired of feeling useless and having people looking down on me. I also had nothing to show in terms of what I have achieved in life apart from my addiction and living from bottle to bottle was not an option anymore."

However, he does admit that it was tough to quit drinking, seeing that it was a major part of his life.

"We did not have any professional help, so you can imagine the hell I went through during the first three weeks.

The withdrawal symptoms were a nightmare. I could not eat for days. It felt as if I was dying, but I had to push through and I am glad that that part is over," he says.

He added that he still has a long way to go as the fight continues. He does not stay on the streets anymore but in an old garage close to the Walvis Bay Magistrate's Court, where he spends his days creating art pieces.

"I finally feel useful and see that I have a purpose in life. My hobby is helping me stay sober and is my means of income. However, I know my journey just started as my task is to stay sober and I am taking it step by step," concluded Slinger.

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