The other side-effects of addiction

Lost fix

© RecoveryMaldives

Getting through addiction and climbing up the ladder of recovery is not an easy task. Personally, I find the stopping part (of drugs) easier, than the challenges in recovery. This is mostly due to the baggage of our past we have to carry. The problem is the moment we ditch the baggage, it comes back haunting us. If I’m not ready to face my past head-on, the task of staying away from drugs gets harder.

I carry a lot of baggage from my past. These include issues of trust, integrity, numerous relationship damages, to name a few. There are times, if I sit and start to ponder over my past, the feeling of guilt and shame overrides the feeling of self-worthiness. The trip is too bad for me to handle, I tend to shun it, at least for that moment. This in turn bottles it up and sometimes makes it worse too. However, what I’ve found is time helps. As they say, time is the best healer and I truly believe that from experience.

As the journey of life continues and recovery gets stronger, which I’ve yet to experience, my belief is it will make things much easier. Life is not easy. Addiction was not easy, but honestly, for me, life is much harder; and that’s the beauty of life, I guess. Recovery gets challenging for me in every aspect of my life. To mend the broken bones, is not quite an easy task in itself. Having a reality-check helps a lot. Assessing the present situation and doing a little mental comparison helps too.

As time goes by, the other side-effects of addiction — the mental and spiritual part — becomes a memory.

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Recovery is a journey of lifetime.

Taj Exotica, Maldives

Taj Exotica, Maldives

The darkness engulfed me. To the extent, the meaning of life, the daily struggles, the emotions and feelings were shunned to a corner. Nothing really mattered; to matter was also forgotten. Feeling numb is an understatement. These were just some of the lows I had to go through in my heroin addiction.

It is certainly a frame of mind addicts visit emotionally — at least I went through it. These are low-emotional levels I went through during the peak of my using and even after I slowed down. Heroin starts really taking over every aspect of life.

Recovery is challenging too. Despite all the lows there is always the insanely psychological feel-good associations with it. The rational and logical conclusions do sometimes not work for anyone who’s trapped in the drug addiction cycle.

I do get the encouragement and drive to stay on the course. Recovery is simply a journey. There are real highs and real lows too; but I never wish to go to that darkness again.

HOPE

LP-704-Maldives-Beach-At-Sunset-Maxi-Poster-91Where is the moment? The moment of happiness, serenity, fulfillment…It never seems to come. There are days I simply give up hope—the hope of a new life. There are days which pass so slowly, as if in slow motion, I can’t find anything fulfilling to do. Nothing seems to interest me anymore. The idea of bathing myself in heroin corners me from above and beyond. Do I simply give in to the fight? Or, as they say, surrender? Surrender to what? To the hole that is consuming me from inside; despite, all the movements in my life.

A ray of hope is all I need. I chuckle, and convince myself that, at least for the day.

Gone beyond boredom: The other side of addiction

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The emptiness I have felt, I would never wish upon anyone. There is no way I can fully describe it to someone who has not experienced it. It’s like a part of me has left my body. The feeling of loneliness, although I’m surrounded by people, overwhelms me to the extent I feel loneliness in its raw sense, literally. It never seems to go away. The feeling of total uselessness, coupled with the utter meaninglessness of the world seizes me.

These are feelings I have to fight or surrender to, on a daily basis. Every time I stop after using for a period of time (days, weeks, or months), I get overwhelmed. Sometimes, it’s really hard to go through it; though over time, the feeling lessens. If I isolate myself during this period, – the most tempting thing to do – the emptiness doubles it’s grip on me. I try not to isolate, but sometimes that’s what I end up doing, making matters worse.

After experiencing this through out my journey it has become a part of my life now. I no longer sit and worry about it. If I hear a friend say he is bored, I chuckle to myself. I have gone beyond boredom. I mean, I still get bored sometimes, but that’s like heaven compared to the raw feelings I have gone through.

A glimpse of the road to recovery

The bridge to paradise

The bridge to paradise

I was ushered into the world of recovery by fellow addicts – literally dragged into the other side of addiction. I didn’t have any choice in the matter. It was not the lowest point in my life; in fact, I was totally convinced I could do drugs responsibly. The concept of powerlessness and surrender were totally foreign to me; contextually I had no inkling what they meant either.

To paint you a picture of how highly I held myself, I had just turned 20 and I was managing a small business, I had a full-time job as a draftsman and on the side, I was freelancing small drafting and quantity-based gigs; on top of it, I was attending a night college to do a management degree; and, for the cherry on top, I was doing heroin daily.

This was my awaited rising I thought. After an unsuccessful run at College abroad and dropping out after a couple of semesters, I had to get back home. Toward the end of my fateful stay there I had felt so bored and empty; mostly due to extreme partying, smoking pot, sniffing speed, popping up ecstasy, which all ultimately lead to falling back to heroin abroad. Now, that’s what heroin does for the best of us. After a while the real partying stops and you fall back into the gruesome world of heroin addiction.

After coming back home, I struggled through on and off heroin for more than a year. I even did quit for a year or so. This was before I heard of the word recovery. Slowly, I got into the passionate mode of achieving the all-planned goals. I landed in a job, and before I knew it, with all the proper contacts I had, mostly family oriented luck I started my own small company and the free-lancing I mentioned earlier (enough with the bragging).

This was the time I was earning quite a lot; till now I have never been able to earn that much. The high disposable income I had, guaranteed only one thing – a continuous supply of heroin. I never felt withdrawals those days. There was always stuff. I thought this could last forever. With all the money I was making, I was living a poor life. At the end of the day, my folks were fulfilling my basic needs; I just spent most of it on drugs.

As they say, with drugs it’s always a downward plunge. It all came crashing down on me. I was on my knees sooner than I anticipated. I lost track of the business, I was fired from my job and I was a total wreck. All my relationships were at an all-time low. Most of my friends were far-faraway.

Just a couple of months before the plunge, I met a couple of guys, who opened a new world of possibilities for me – the façade of ultimate resurrection from heroin. Now famous as the ‘Journey’ in Male’ these guys were the founding fathers. Back then, it was just a run-down building with no proper facilities. These guys literally talked me into going there with them. I still remember the exact words they told me: They have stumbled upon a formula to get out of drugs – To live clean and sober. It was called narcotics anonymous they said: A fellowship of addicts who are in a recovery journey. They said it was a simple program and we have to follow it one day at a time and it has worked wonders for millions of people. Without any dillydally, they just told me on my face I had no other choice but to adopt the program; otherwise, there was no hope for addicts like us.

Did I really listen? It didn’t make any sense to me back then. The more I went to those meetings, the more I was using; ironically, my usage sky-rocketed after I started attending those rooms. I had to stop both: going to “journey” and doing drugs.

The Bust – Part 1

The roads of Male ' (Image courtesy: buggee)

The roads of Male ‘ (Image courtesy: buggee)

It was one of those days. Marked by a set of events which happened so fast I ended up in a place I never thought I would be in. It all started with dope-sickness (a state heroin users experience after they run out of stuff). I was out of cash and out of options for the day’s fix.

When a dope fiend runs out of stuff and cash, he always creates a prospect for scoring. Ask any addict out there, they’ll definitely tell you there is always a way. I was getting agitated with every passing minute. Damn! I should have kept some from the previous night. Who am I kidding? That rarely happens. Keeping stuff stashed is a skill I never really mastered, I always ended up using all the stuff I scored.

I couldn’t bear staying home, so I literally ran downstairs, out into the streets of Male’. The streets of Male’ was quite safe during those days; I never really experienced any violence during those times; probably, because I was not into the whole gang thing. Anyway, I walked past the stack of corner shops, coffee houses and concrete houses stacked together. Male’ is quite a concrete jungle. A huge contrast to the other islands in the Maldives – it boasts the highest number of people living per square feet the world over. It is said that if everyone comes out of their houses in Male’ at any one time, there will be no space on the roads to move around. This may be true as I can comfortably walk from one end of Male’ to the other within 15 minutes.

I walked through the heavy traffic buzz oblivious of the pedestrians who walked past me. There was only one fight raging in my mind: scoring! I had to find away. With every passing minute the withdrawals was kicking in with a vengeance. I was already yawning and getting chills running down my spine (early withdrawal symptoms of heroin, it varies for different users). Suddenly, I noticed something in my pocket. I felt the bump and I realized it was my savior for the day: my cell phone. I thought I had sold it the other day, and soon I realized I only exchanged the earlier one for a cheaper cell and some extra cash. So, a cheap cell phone and withdrawals is never a good combination.

Within minutes I located a potential sidekick on the road – some random addict who was not a real acquaintance. We managed to sell the phone for around five hundred bucks (the exchange rate back then was 1 USD = 12.75 Maldivian currency). Anyway, getting a place to smoke up was a task in itself in Male’ if you are not home. I had some friend’s places where I smoked, but I didn’t want to go there. I didn’t feel like sharing, I already had a sidekick who is getting a cut too. I gave him around three hundred bucks, he scored and came back with the stuff.  (To be continued…)

The Tsunami of life

The 2004 Tsunami, Courtesy: http://flickrhivemind.net/

The 2004 Tsunami,
Courtesy: http://flickrhivemind.net/

It was the happier days. The early days when you just found out what drugs were – not that you never heard of it, but never really experienced it! It was the time of my life. I was young, ambitious, full of energy, thought I could conquer the world. Dreaming about my future and planning ahead with great plans was the thing those days.

Just a couple of weeks (or months, I am not really sure) before the Tsunami that hit the Maldives back in 2004, the tsunami of the high life has already hit me – back then I did not realize it was to be the biggest tsunami I had to face throughout my life. As I narrated in my earlier post, I was already introduced to the two major drugs that were widely available in Male’ (the capital of Maldives) by this time; I did not realize I was hooked on from the start. Yeah sure, I was hooked on because it was already becoming a part of my lifestyle, but I cared less. I was in it to explore and quench my thirst for curiosity. It was adventurous, I was making new friends (in hindsight, I was moving away from my real friends), and I was having a blast.

So, with the Tsunami that took the lives of several Maldivians, my life hanged on a balance too. More like a ticking bomb – it could explode at any moment. With the new found love of hash oil (a derivative of cannabis), I was enjoying the coffee places near Male’ waterfront with a purpose. I found new meaning to the word chilling. My friends and I would frequent these small cafe’s quite often. Though being an outwardly conservative society,  smoking up in these coffee shops was an open secret those days. Almost everyone knew about it, but we played along being a bit careful and secretive – there was always the fear of cops busting you red-handed.

Time passed on. I got introduced to new people and before I knew it, most probably in the haze of pot high, I experimented with heroin again…

Getting into “High” school!

Image courtesy: nattu

My high-school days were pretty fun and awesome when I started. The idea of making new friends and belonging to the cool culture interested me. I scored pretty well in my O’levels – in fact, I got straight A’s. I already had a bunch of cool buddies I hangout with. School started and made a lot of friends, got involved with chicks. It was awesome!

I was always an avid thinker, some of my mates even used to call me a philosopher. Had one special friend Liam, who used to hang out with me a lot, we would ponder over all kind of stuff, specially scientific and philosophical rhetoric. One day we were talking and he was like, his friend has arrived from Malaysia and I should go meet him. He told me they had gotten high the other night and it was an awesome experience and made him think about philosophical stuff more easily and opened his eyes to a different world. At this point, I never had a bit of clue what getting high really was – the idea of getting high in my mind was you can’t even walk or talk properly afterwards and it was a dangerous thing; typical, no frikking-idea-about-drugs thinking!

This got me thinking real hard and made me super-curious, being the guy I was. So, the next day without an inkling of what was to follow I went with Liam to meet with this particular friend of his. No doubt the guy was interesting, very much like me, totally into scientific and philosophical thinking, or so I thought! They were getting ready to do something, getting in a circle and in a kind of a ritual, trying to smoke something. There were three guys, I got really curious.

Jumped in, asked them what it was, and was like I’m gonna give it a try too! They offered me happily, but they said hash oil would be better for me, and they don’t have that then, they were doing heroin. Well, I asked all kind of stupid questions like what was gonna happen to me if i smoke it and all shit which I don’t remember now. Finally, they agreed to offer me one shot, and I smoked it hesitantly over a foil. A new experience for me altogether! Nothing much really happened to me, except when I smoked a cigarette I felt different; because it was just a drag, a small minute shot, i din’t feel any kicks.

So, I told Liam’s friend about me not feeling it, and they told me to come tomorrow with a hundred bucks and should try hash oil – heroin is not good they said, or something like that. I could not wait for the next day. Managed to get a hundred bucks and called up Liam, went to his friend, Lan’s house. Lan got the stuff, we smoked the hash oil over foil.

What a feeling i had. It opened my eyes to a different world. Things I took for granted felt different. The music we were listening to I could hear all the beats separately. I could not stop giggling and laughing. It was awesome! I felt paranoid, funny, joyful, on heaven all at the same time. I was asking myself why had I not tried this magic earlier. It was not at all like they proclaimed. They lied! I could walk properly, man even I could think properly..This was pure heaven and they lied about it through anti-drug campaigns! I was loving it!