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Attitude of Gratitude

Dear Dr. Kanchan Kapur and Dr. Bharat Bhushan
,

My name is Hemant Kumar, I am 45 years old and I belong to Aurangabad, Bihar; I am a recovering addict. I belong to a very good family, all the members being highly qualified and possessing very good positions in society. However, due to addiction, I myself was unable to complete my education, with my qualification only extending to intermediary. My parents, with much effort, admitted me to a good college – S.S. College, Aurangabad, under Maghad University, Bihar – but I was unable to pursue my studies only because of DRUGS.

As a child, before my problems with drugs, I was an intelligent, hard-working student. I was also much loved within my family, but, unfortunately, I lost it all due to my attitudes, behavior and DRUGS. I remember being 13 years old when I smoked my first cigarette – my entry into the world of drugs. At the time, I remember feeling high, however I had no idea how costly that feeling would be for me. I began smoking due to peer group pressure and simply for the taste of it, but this habit slowly escalated to drugs such as cannabis and eventually to harder drugs. On the one hand, my family was completely ignorant to what I was doing, but on the other hand my thinking, attitudes and behavior were becoming more and more negative. I felt different to everybody else. My friends were also all older than me and so I grew-up before my time.

At some stage, at a party, I had my first sip of alcohol and very soon I was drinking regularly. It was at this time that my family discovered my addiction to alcohol and resulted in me being beaten at home. However, instead of mending my ways, my stubbornness only made me drink even more heavily. Then came my involvement in crime. I was arrested on many occasions, sometimes being lucky enough to return home from the police stations, but at other times going to prison. However, none of this had any effect on my thinking because I still did not have the wisdom to know the difference between wrong and right. By the age of only 18 or 19 years, I had become a renowned criminal in my home town of Aurangabad, much to my satisfaction. My Family began hating me, as they were respected members of the community and I was becoming an embarrassment.

I began developing the desire to become rich fast and this, along with my substance abuse, resulted in me leaving my education to pursue a different path. The day I met a group of criminals who used and peddled drugs was the darkest day of my life, not realizing that I was entering a world from which returning would be very difficult. One day, when I was feeling particularly stressed, a member of this gang introduced me to smack, telling me it would make all my worries go away. Taking the drug for the first time, all my cares seemed to vanish and the euphoria I felt was something I had never felt before. Now, instead of drinking, I became a habitual user of this drug. Because now my breath no longer smelt of alcohol and my violent drinking-associated behavior had come to a halt, my family thought that I had reformed and so suggested marriage. Finally, I accepted their decision and got married.

Even after marriage, I continued using smack. I began alienating myself from people including my criminal associates. Up until then, I knew nothing of the withdrawal effects of the drug I was using and overall was enjoying my life. However, once when I had to leave town for a function and was unable to use smack, I soon discovered the terrible symptoms which occurred when I did not use and from then on always had a good supply of the drug in my possession. As a result, upon finding the drug one day, my wife and family discovered that I was a smack addict. By then, I had already become the father of a baby girl. My family’s discovery of my addiction once again started causing difficulties for me at home and as a result I began distancing myself from them again, my only relationship with them being a financial one. I would also steal from home and was totally unable to fulfill the responsibility of a son, husband or father, the guilt of which still remains with me today.

At some point, with much persuasion, I was admitted to a detoxification centre named Prerna Pramarsh Kindra in Patna. I stayed there for 10 days and in the process used my smart mind to find-out which medications were used in the treatment of opiate addiction. As a result, after discharge, I returned home bringing along with me a new type of addiction – addiction to pharmaceutical medications and one about which none of my family knew anything about. Now I was addicted to both smack and pharmaceutical medicines, with my physical health deteriorating and need for money increasing. I eventually left home to enter the business of drug dealing, so as to enable me to sufficiently fuel my addiction. My wife also decided to leave, taking along with her our daughter and going to her own family home. By this time, although I was financially alright, my physical health was becoming much worse. The police and other people began searching for me and were constantly questioning my family, to the extent that my brother’s career was disturbed leading to him packing his bags and moving to Delhi.

I have no idea how 7 to 8 years passed during this time in a life of drugs and crime, during which time I would also go for some 10 to 15 detoxification treatments – especially when things would get hot and I was trying to evade the police, more than actually wishing to stop my use of drugs. I discovered, from somebody else, that my baby daughter had passed-away, not managing to meet her in her last days. However, even such a tragedy did not change me. By now, society looked at me as if I was scum.

Then my drug selling business, for one reason or another, declined, I was exiled from my home town and the law was heavily on my tail. It was then that I began living on the streets, marking perhaps the worst time of my life. I would spend much time travelling on trains, never really caring where the trains were destined as I knew all the areas where I could get my drugs. My finances were gained by pick-pocketing on the trains themselves, at which I had now become a quick hand. Life would continue like this for some time. As things started to settle down, I returned home, only to find that my father had been unwell for a while. My family’s situation was not at all good, especially as the sole bread winner was now unable to earn. After somehow arranging some money, I left home again and restarted selling drugs on a small scale. This provided me with my requirement of drugs for personal use and would also allow me to earn some money, which I would take home to care for my family. In between, my family would never be aware of my whereabouts whilst I was away from home.

One day, my father fell very ill and so my mother took him to hospital for admission. His health was drastically deteriorating. The next day, I found-out about my father’s bad health and so went to the hospital. I met him and he felt a little good at seeing me. However, he was at the same time worried about my addiction. My last words to him were for him to get better, on condition of which I would get better too. But it seemed that that was not what God wanted. I was asked by my mother, on the doctor’s request, to go to the local pharmacist to get some medication for my father as his health was getting worse. I left the ward in an alright state, but upon arriving to buy the medicines, I decided to buy some pharmaceutical drugs for myself in order to be able to spend some time with my father on returning. Whilst coming back to give the medicine, I decided to stop along the way, in a hospital toilet, to inject my drugs. This decision was to be something that would haunt me for a long time to come. Upon returning to my father’s bed, I found that he had passed away in the time I was away and I could not be there by his side for his last moments. I was to hear that my father had been calling-out for me in his last words, but to no avail as I was busy injecting my drugs in the toilet on the floor below. The guilt of this remains with me even today. My condition at the time was such that without being on drugs, I was unable to even conduct my father’s last rites. With much manipulation, I acquired funds from relatives to buy my drugs so as to be able to perform all the formalities which an elder son must do, but with resentment and hatred building-up in them. As soon as all the ceremonial duties had been completed for my father’s funeral, my relatives immediately handed me over to the police, something they had been planning all along. However, the police felt sorry for me and did not arrest me, advising me that I required treatment as I was mentally ill.

My family, also feeling sorry for me, decided to give me one more chance and I was again admitted for detoxification in Patna. I was discharged after 15 days and relapsed the very same day. But now I was only dependent on pharmaceutical drugs such as norphine injections and benzodiazepine tablets. However, my physical situation was becoming quite terrible by now, with my whole body almost decaying through use of injectable drugs. By this stage, I did not belong anywhere and did not know what to do, often wishing that I was dead. One day, being chased by some people, I sat on a train, Purushotam Express, with my mother and travelled to Delhi without a ticket. I arrived at my brother’s house and asked him to help me. At first, he was angry with me as he had come to Delhi to run away from all the problems that I had caused and now I was here. But finally he decided to give me one last chance. He found-out about a treatment centre where Dr. Bharat Bhushan was Project Director, who advised me for immediate admission. My brother returned home, spoke to me about his talk and said that this was my last chance – I agreed for admission and the next day I went to the Centre to start my treatment.

This was the first day of my new life as an addict in recovery and I have never looked back ever since. I took a total treatment of 10 months – 6 months as an inpatient and 4 months as an outpatient in what is termed as the After Care Group. Around that time, at a conference I was attending, I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Kanchan Kapur, the Director of an institution known as Muskan Foundation. She advised me to come and work for her at her centre to help other addicts and in the process strengthen my own recovery from addiction. I agreed and I could not have made a more wise decision, something that has held me in recovery ever since even after many years. At the time I entered treatment in 2003, due to drug addiction I had lost everything and had nothing. Today, after almost 9 years in recovery, I have gained everything I could ever want, including a wife, a beautiful child, a good job, a sound financial situation and most of all respect in society. Perhaps most importantly, I have what I have always searched for – peace of mind – and I am happier than I have ever been.

Hemant




In the last 14 years of recovery, I slowly, steadily and respectfully gained everything that I had lost during the period of addiction, except my father and daughter. In today’s date, nothing happens in my home town or in my family without consulting me first, to gain consent and advice. At the venues where I am privileged enough to facilitate sessions in workshops, trainings and conferences, within the audience are often people such as senior police officers, judiciary, medical professionals or political figures who would have never even considered being associated with me or may have been more involved in putting me behind bars. I was recently instrumental in helping my mother’s treatment conducted by an internationally famed cardiologist in hospital for heart disease, especially with regards to financial assistance, whereas during active addiction I was nothing but a burden on my family, never being in a position to help any of my family members. I was invited and shared my journey of recovery and role in treatment of Non Communicable Diseases with Substance Use Disorder in “Workshop of NCD Alliance” on 30th to 31st of October 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. read more