Substance abuse has been a menace for centuries, and so many measures are being put in place to stop or at least reduce it. For majority people struggling with addiction, the biggest and hardest part of the whole process is acceptance and the desire to quit. Taking the decision to discontinue using drugs requires a lot of sacrifices, soul searching, and guidance. While doing research on substance abuse among young people, I visited a drug rehabilitation centre. I met five individuals, three in their mid-twenties and two in their early thirties, who had made the hard decision to stop abusing drugs. All of them were cocaine users, two smoked cigarettes while three smoked bhang. This paper covers a one on one talk with recovering addicts on the experiences and challenges that they faced after they stopped abusing drugs, how hard/ easy it was and whether or not they managed to stay away from the drugs.
All the five correspondents agreed that the drugs made them feel high and alert, full of energy, and more aware of the surroundings, shortly after taking it. Quitting the drug means that its effect is no longer felt. Instead of the usual feeling of being filled with energy, it was replaced with feeling weak, and instead of being alert they were confusion. One of the corresponded said that, at times, he would go to the store only for him to forget what he had gone to buy. Stopping taking the drugs was accompanied with intense migraines. Coping with the feeling of being trapped in someone elses body is what they found difficult about not using the drugs.
The duration that they were not able to stay away from the drugs varied. The two that smoked cigarettes found it hard to stay away from them for more than two days, due to the following reasons: firstly, cigarettes are cheap and easily available over the counter. Once they felt the urge to smoke, they would just get them over the counter. Secondly, unlike cocaine, some people smoke publicly. The smoke from third party users triggered them to get back to smoking. The three individuals who smoked bhang were able to go initially for a week without smoking it, then made it a month and eventually stopped altogether (with help from the rehabilitation centre). For the cocaine, they could hardly go for two days without sniffing it, having in mind that they would use it twice or thrice on a daily basis.
They confirmed that abusing drugs made them somehow blind and immune to real life happenings. Not taking drugs meant that they would be acutely aware of the surroundings. The following things tempted them to want to go back to drugs. Stress was a huge contributor. Two of the correspondents had dropped out of college for lack of concentration in class (caused by using the drugs). The reality that they lacked education threw them in a pool of stress, which made them want to get back to cocaine to get away from that reality. One of them had launched a music career, that failed, and due to that he started abusing drugs to erase the feeling of being a failure. Joblessness was another contributor. Drugs had got into them so much that no one would offer them a job. After they had quit, they faced discrimination from friends and family members. The feeling of rejection weighed so much on them that drugs were the only way to get that from them.
The above factors contributed a lot to their stress levels. After six weeks of not using the drugs, the stress levels had dropped significantly. Family members had become aware of the seriousness of wanting to stay completely away from drugs. Counselling in the rehabilitation centre had helped them deal with rejection, the feeling of being a failure, and discrimination which helped significantly reduce their stress level from 95% in the first week to 40% in the sixth week.
The first step to getting healed is accepting that they were wrong. The next is reflecting on how their lives were before they started the vice, and the things they would have done differently. One thing they all quoted was avoiding peer pressure from friends. Friends are what lead them to drug abuse. Where they to be granted another chance today, they would stay away from bad influence. They also said that they lacked stress management skills. Being proper acquitted with good stress management was something they would have done were they gave a chance.
In conclusion, drug abuse is wrong, but that does not mean that one should face a death sentence for using them. Acknowledgement is the primary phase of healing, and having the will to stop completes the therapeutic process. As relatives and friends to drug users, we all have a responsibility in helping them put an end to the vice and become better members of the society.
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