I have never met my father who was an alcoholic. My mother divorced him when I was three years old and she went to Saudi Arabia to work as a governess when I turned 12. I stayed back at Andheri with my grandparents and was a good student at St Joseph’s School. I passed HSC in Commerce from Claras College at Versova and took up the bachelor course in mass media. I started playing the guitar and joined a band. As part of our show, we went out of the city and that is the first time I had my first drink at the age of 16. After that there were occasional drinks but I remember I had to be quiet about it.
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I guess drugs just happened, more out of curiosity. And there was a group of some “bhai log” near my society in Andheri. I used to ride my cycle, do some wheelies, get some cigarettes for them and they introduced me to chillum/charas and ganja. It was when I started heroin or brown sugar that really messed up my life. Soon my circle of friends were those who did drugs and I remember I used to steal not just money but even sold the gas cylinder and clock for Rs 100 for a fix of the drug. Once I sold dumbbells worth Rs 7,000 for Rs 200 just to satisfy myself with one fix that lasted 20 minutes. Heroin was easily available. One had to go to Andheri station. However, cops caught me and my mum, who had returned from Saudi, had to literally beg, plead and finally give money for my release from the chowkey.
I had done the range of pharmaceuticals, including Alprazolam, weed/heroin and since I am hyper by nature these drugs relaxed me. Soon, I was dazed. I did LSD and even meow meow (mephedrone) – but I hate meow meow — these drugs are nasty. I know kids who have sold their iPhones for a fix of the mephedrone. I still remember I had to put I-Cool eye drops as my eyes were constantly red due to smoking marijuana. I was downright nasty to my family and friends and used foul and abusive language. I used to snap at my neighbours and warn them to mind their own business. I used to go low profile once in a while but then I was back to taking drugs. Soon I was sent to a Mumbai rehabilitation centre but it did not work.
It was in April 2014 that I was sent to Pune’s Practical Life Skills Rehabilitation Centre at Balewadi that changed my life. I was in total denial. The withdrawal symptoms were too strong and I was so sick. I had no intention of getting clean. But the coordinators at the centre, Inderjit and Rahul, did not follow the conventional method. They really know how to get you out of it. There were so many counselling sessions and soon the duo paid personal attention to me.
Just simple things but effective words like “You already have problems, why do you want drugs now” worked. I know it does not when family tells you but there was a way in which these guys spoke with me. You know they are not lying when they tell you how to come out of it. I am lucky I related to them and despite it being a three-month programme, I stayed on for a year. I have been clean for two years now and sometimes when things go wrong there is an urge to go back to drugs. But Inderjit and Rahul have shown how it helps not to go back. So today I have learnt to say “No” to my friends who do drugs. I went to Mumbai, lived again at the “danger zones” and there are many attractions but I resisted. My mother has returned to Saudi Arabia and my grandmother passed away. I thought it best for me to stay in Pune where I work with a marketing firm and am studying psychology at Indira Gandhi National Open University. Guys, just learn to say “No” to drugs. I still go for weekly follow-ups and today I wonder why I did what I did. –As told to Anuradha Mascarenhas
‘It consumed my whole life. Now I feel reborn’
“In the third year of college. it was one cough syrup by a medical representative who had come home that started it all. I was anyway upset with the situation at home where a close relative had physically abused me during my school days and continued to do so several times. Even after repeated complaints to my parents, there was no effect and I was in turn portrayed as a liar, which only further affected me.
One cough syrup bottle led to another and then there were others and soon in my college days, I was completely sucked into this routine. Already drawn into a shell due to the problems at home I had lost confidence to face friends and I felt useless. It was the addiction to the drug that gave me a reason to live. When my parents got to know of my addiction they were aghast and after keeping me isolated they decided to take a stern decision. Instead of treatment, on the directions of my close relatives, my parents got me married immediately after college.
Of course, because of my addiction, the marriage did not last for even a few months. I came back home and though I tried to stay away from it, the relapse was quick and in this phase I met another childhood friend who was an addict himself. We got married against the wishes of both our families and from there on it was a further downward fall with both of us hooked on drugs.
We took up odd jobs only to cater to our addiction and there were several things we did just to feed our addiction. Things started worsening when huge debts piled on us and soon we were on the roads and taking shelter at friends’ houses. My husband, too deep into addiction, disappeared one day. Sometime later I was found in a disheveled state by a friend who got me admitted to Muktangan de-addiction centre in January 2015.
It was here that I went into a self-realisation mode. I had destroyed my life enough and here the counsellors, especially my “new mother” (a counselor at the centre), helped me out of this mess. I had lost my father and my real mother and relatives did not want to associate with me. But, it was the counsellor at this centre who gave me a “rebirth” of sorts. With treatment from doctors and counsellors, I was able to completely get off drugs and lead a normal life.
I eventually trained myself at Muktangan as a counsellor and slowly I could get another job as well in Mumbai. I even traced my second husband and got him admitted and, for the last five years, both of us are sober. Today, I lead a normal life and even as there are some health issues, I have been able to rise like the Phoenix bird from the ashes all set to take on a new journey ahead. –As told to Nisha Nambiar