Abu Dhabi: Feelings of relief, self-worth and pride are what Faisal, a former drug addict, is left with now that he has been substance-free for more than three years.
"I don't want to go back to that dark place, where I am hiding in a dark corner or in a bathroom and using drugs. I am visible, I am here now. I don't want to go back to that hole," the 40-year-old man explained at a public health talk held on Tuesday at the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City.
Having been addicted to various substances for more than 14 years, Faisal said his circle of friends and places he used to visit were some of the reasons that had led to his substance abuse.
"I can picture my first instance of addiction clearly. I was still in secondary school. One of my friends offered me a beer, and I wanted to try it. And then my problem evolved to trying other substances," Faisal said. "There were so many drugs and substances that I said I would never try, but in the end, you end up trying everything."
Dr Mohammad Mousa, consultant psychiatrist at the Behavioural Sciences Pavilion at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City said many things could lead to substance abuse, whether it be alcohol, drugs and medication, or even cigarettes.
The causes could be divided into two types — primary and secondary, he said.
"These reasons do not cause a person to become an addict, but they explain why that person might have a tendency to do so," he said.
"Primary reasons are hereditary, physiological preparedness, weakness in religious upbringing, and a mental weakness. The secondary reasons that push a person with those aspects to become an addict include health factors, psychological phases, curiosity, economical situation, unemployment, and an unstable family life," he added.
Although drugs, narcotics and alcohol were seen as the most significant substances referred to in terms of addiction, smoking, although legal, could be just as harmful for people, he said.
The health repercussions of smoking included difficulty in breathing, fatigue, a compromised immune system, and a thickening in the throat membrane, Mousa said.
How to recognise if you might have an addict at home:
- Is constantly unable to concentrate on school work or job
- Is repeatedly late or absent from job, social gatherings or events
- Is repeatedly complaining of sickness and ill health
- Likes to stay by himself all the time, prefers not to socialise
- Suddenly abandons old friends, and decides to spend time with new ones for no particular reason
- Sleeps for long hours, much more than usual
- Constantly needs to borrow money and things around the house go missing regularly, including valuables and money
These indicators do not necessarily mean that there is an addict in the household, but they are points to look out for.
Source: Shaikh Khalifa Medical City
Have you ever fought an addiction and won? Or do you know someone who has?