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.

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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…)