Abu Dhabi: "I overdosed on narcotics, some of which included heroin and 60 different pills. I do not remember anything except waking up in intensive care removing the tubes on my arms, punching the doctor for trying to stop me from leaving and running out of the hospital as fast as I could," said a 29-year-old former heroin addict.

M.H., an Emirati, then went home and continued taking drugs such as heroin and hashish. In the meantime, the hospital had reported his case to the police, who tried to reach him via telephone but at that stage he was too stoned to care. Finally the police raided his home and jailed him.

He has been addicted to heroin and pills for the past 11 years. During the last few years of his drug use he had up to nine heroin injections daily and took from 50 to 60 sedative tablets.

Initially M.H. enjoyed the effect of heroin. But after a few injections, he had to increase the dose and the euphoric feeling turned into misery. He started to take drugs when he was 17-years-old and blamed his initial use on peer influence and his "addictive nature."

His first four days in jail were a living nightmare.


"I was hallucinating, banging my head on the cell, cursed anyone approaching me and felt cold. My whole body was in pain, my bones were aching and I was constantly trembling."

Four days later, M.H. was transported to the Al Wathba Central jail in Abu Dhabi. He spent a little over two months in jail, until the judge ordered his admittance to a rehabilitation centre. He was sent to the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) for four months. After completing his third month, he was allowed to go on short visits to see his family.

"Being rehabilitated in the NRC changed my life. Doctors and nurses are humane. That is when I realised how miserable my life was before being treated. Most or all of my friends are addicts. I have seen many overdose and die, and some have committed suicide.

"My advice to all addicts is to admit they are addicted and seek help. Go to a rehabilitation centre and try to move on with your lives before it's too late," said M.H.

Twenty-four-year old Emirati, S.A. was a heroin addict for seven years. When he was 15, he got introduced to a bunch of older youngsters and tried alcohol which he didn't enjoy very much. He was then introduced to sedatives/hypnotics and got hooked. S.A. then started to get his own drugs and not depend on his peers for usage. "I used to visit private clinics and acted like I was insane so that the psychologist prescribed the drugs I wanted."

When his family started to question his strange behaviour, he blamed his mood swings and absence on alcohol. S.A. started taking up to 15 different pills along with heroin.

"At times I would inject myself with heroin up to 25 times a day, especially on my days off. The minute I would open my eyes first thing in the morning while still in bed I would inject myself two consecutive times. Once I reached work, I would go to the bathroom and inject myself again. It became a habit."

He enjoyed the company of only one friend who was equally addicted. His utmost joy was to cruise with his friend on an empty highway and inject himself as much as possible.

"Whenever I got too high I would let my friend take over the wheel and vice versa. We got into a number of accidents that way, but never got caught."

S.A.'s colleagues suspected his strange behaviour and related his symptoms to addiction. One day as he was driving to work he found police officers asking him to park his vehicle and accompany them to prison.

He spent three months in the centre and already feels a drastic change and intends to continue his studies in computer science.

"Running away from the police is not a solution. You will eventually get caught. Even though I felt I was being very careful while getting drugs, I later learnt I had been watched by the CID for five months. Give yourself up and admit you have an addiction problem, get some help," advised the former addict.

Y.H., Emirati, 26 years, is married with a baby boy. His addiction started when he tried alcohol at the age of 17. He then tried hashish and heroin."Addiction is not worth it. You end up getting fired from your job, humiliated - society looks down at you, and your family start to mistrust you," he said.

Three of the addicts said that they intend to stay clean, find new jobs and start a family once they are out of the rehabilitation centre.