An Addict’s Story

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He started smoking for fun but once he landed in a college in Delhi things turned ugly. With drugs like cocaine and cannabis easily available inside campus Hashim couldn’t resist. Saqib Mugloo tells his painful story

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Representational Pic.

On 18th April, 2014 Jafar received a phone call from Delhi. His brother-in-law Showkat was speaking on other end of the line. What Showkat revealed to him the next moment would leave Jafar devastated: His 21-year-old son Hashim, studying B-tech in a university under Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme had been unwell; his health was deteriorating. “He has consumed drugs,” Showkat blurted out. “I think he should return to valley. He is vomiting,” he said.

Following the fateful episode, Jafar flew his son back to Kashmir.

“It was shocking for me, I couldn’t believe my son had consumed drugs,” says Jafar, with a brooding look. Initially, Jafar mistook Hashim’s condition as illness. “But the reality was harsh,” says Jafar after coming to terms with the truth.

In just 2 months’ time, Hashim had lost 12 kgs and was looking like a man suffering from some life threatening disease; frail body, unkempt hair and dirty clothes.

From someone who used to wake up for “tahajud” (night prayers) during his 10th class examinations, Hashim had turned into a drug addict whose only motive was to seek pleasure from drugs and isolate himself from the society.

Few days after returning home, Hashim had opened up to his cousin Sajid who is also his close friend. Sajid, a university student who had researched about the impact of drugs, was able to strike a relationship with his drug-addict cousin. “In college Hashim used to try new drugs in form of pills. And sometimes he would mix alcohol and pills, which was very dangerous,” says Sajid.

Most of the time, Hashim would talk about Tupac, the rapper and Bob Marley or Bulleh Shah. “Whenever anyone would say anything against addicts or addiction, Hashim would cite quotes from these personalities and justify cannabis addiction,” says Sajid.

Sajid would often find himself at the receiving end of his weird questions. “I remember him asking stuff like: Will Bob Marley go to Heaven? Will he (Hashim) die at 26 since Tupac had also died at the same age? Did Bulleh Shah have magical powers?”

Studies have shown drug addiction develops due to various reasons like, stress, peer pressure, curiosity etc. In Hashim’s case, it was curiosity for trying out the substance landing him into the world of drugs.

It was in 12th standard when Hashim started smoking cigarettes. He would go to nearby Lepers’ Colony at Bahrar with his friends to smoke. Located at the banks of serence Nagin Lake Bahrar is said to be heaven for addicts like Hashim from nearby Lal Bazar area. Hashim and his friends had named the place Sharjah.  “I picked up my drug addiction from there,” Hashim says, now regretting smoking at the first place.

While routine smoking at Bahar didn’t have much impact on Hashim’s mental or physical health, it was only after he went to Delhi that things began to change.  His university proved to be a treasure trove for addicts. Every dangerous drug one could think of was available on the campus. “From cannabis to cocaine, you name it and you will get it,” says Hashim.

Surprisingly 10 grams of cannabis was sold at just Rs 300. “Since cannabis was cheaper, I fell to its addiction,” says Hashim. “Two of my roommates also were addicts thus our room was in complete mess. We thrived in dirt and ours was the dirtiest room in hostel.”

Soon Hashim was notorious in college for his behaviour, and this notoriety landed him in trouble as well. In one instance, he consumed some 30 pills after smoking cannabis. Then he started vomiting and lost consciousness. His friends called his uncle (Showkat) who was in Delhi.

Withdrawal Effects

Once back home Hashim stopped consuming drugs but endured horrible withdrawal effects. Those effects range from, mood swings, anxiety, illusions, short temperedness to despair which lead to suicidal tendencies. “Such was the illusion that I felt as if people with guns are watching over me. I would get angry over small things,” Hashim says, his voice wavering.

Life isn’t easy for a drug addict; there is every possibility of relapse due to different reasons. Not only does it require strong willpower but support of parents is crucial. Hashim has relapsed twice till now yet his parents haven’t given up hope. “I have done everything that I could do to help my son get rid of drugs,” his father says who sent him to a rehabilitation centre in Delhi for 3 months.

Since last 6 months Hashim has successfully gotten rid of drugs. “My father’s decision to send me to a rehabilitation centre and the meetings at Narcotics Anonymous Programme (NAP) in Delhi proved very helpful.”

“NAP is just a miracle,” Hashim exclaims. “There you meet other people like you. It helps you realize that you aren’t alone going through this hell.”

Hashim says he want such programs to take place in Kashmir since they help a great deal in relieving stress. Studies show that positive attitude of people around an addict help them stay clean. “Drug addicts must be treated with extra care,” says Hashim. “Apart from opening more de-addiction centres, there must be meetings along the lines of NAP where drug addicts under the guidance of professionals can share their pain.”

(Note: All names in the story have been changed on request.)