An anonymous reader’s submission
The scourge of drug , drinking and porn addiction in our communities is destroying our homes, relationships and community as a whole. I don’t think there’s anyone out there that can truly say that they don’t know anyone that is or has been addicted to either drugs or porn in this day and age.
Shame keeps us from seeking help. What will people say? Our son in rehab? Can never be! We will beat it out of him. Send him for 40 days jamaat. Maybe it’s jadoo (black magic) – these are all likely responses of people around the addict.
Let’s get real. I’ve been in this situation many times. I love a recovering addict. This road has not been easy. There is no overnight fix and relapses do occur- this is the nature of addiction. I’ve had to push him into a car and drive him hours to a rehab in the middle of the night because he relapsed. I’ve had to leave him so that his parents could stop being manipulated by his lies and see for themselves how serious his condition is. I’ve seen it all, done it all- and yet you may ask why I still love him, why am I still with him?
The simple truth is he’s the nicest person I know with a heart of gold who is the best husband except for this one flaw- I love him. He fell into bad company in campus which led to addiction and years later a serious medical condition needed strong medication and this resulted in another addiction- but through all that I’ve seen how hard he tries to stay clean, that this is really not the life he wants and I know I can help him. I’ve been told numerous times by rehabs that if I leave him he has no-one else that is equipped to deal with his issue, no-one around him strong enough to deal with this and I know this- if I leave he has no hope. I also see the other men at the rehab, I hear about other addicts from friends and family and I wonder if I won’t end up in the same situation if I leave and find someone else because honestly it is THAT common. I cannot leave, move on and let him destroy himself and his life- he deserves more.
Druggies as many love calling them are not just those shabby looking, dirty junkies you used to see sleeping on the streets or begging at the robots. No my darlings, they are lawyers, teachers, doctors, anaesthetists, pharmacists, businessmen , grandfathers and yes even Aalims. They’re these haaro looking poiros with beards who are Huffaz that you sit next to at the masjid and can even lead a somewhat normal life most of the time- they’re quite good at hiding it.
Tv makes drinking and alcohol look so cool, that even someone like me whose lived through this nightmare, who knows the devastating effects that drugs can have has caught myself thinking ‘hmm cocaine looks so fun in the movie, wished I’d tried it when I was younger’. Just one time won’t hurt etc.- NO, NO, NO – this is dangerous thinking- we need to inculcate this awareness that drugs and alcohol is completely Haraam – awareness that Allah does not accept your Ibadah for 40 days after indulging- that it WILL remove all Barakah from your life, that you would never want to die in this state and that many times all it really takes is just one snort, puff, shot, injection to have you craving more.
It’s not something we can keep sweeping under the rug. There are kids younger than 12 in rehabs, you need to be more involved in your kid’s lives. Peer pressure and the wrong company plays a huge role. ‘It’s just dagga’ is not an acceptable response- dagga can cause mental illness, is intoxicating and is a gateway drug- don’t be naive. Many times dagga is mixed with other drugs too.
Women are also increasingly resorting to drugs so much so that there are now rehabs specifically for Muslim females in South Africa. Sometimes the husband gets the wife hooked so that he can continue ‘partying’ – our Muslim men are giving their wives to drug dealers for the night for drugs- this is a REALITY.
So this is all happening and I know many of you in this situation are probably sitting feeling hopeless, you feel alone, you don’t know what to do anymore and this is why I wanted to share what I’ve learnt over the years with you because I know this can help so many people in the same or similar situation :
- Do not be an enabler. When they are in active addiction do not give into money demands. They may even steal from you. Take away their atm cards. Do not let them drive under the influence. It may be necessary to even take their cell phone away so that they cannot call their dealers. All family members need to be on the same page. You cannot have the wife being hard and trying to do the stuff mentioned and the parents or siblings giving into demands in secret.
- If you don’t believe them when they say they haven’t taken anything , ask them to do a drug test – make sure you watch them actually pee into the container, many times they will google ways to pass drug tests (adding chemicals in the urine) or add water into the sample.
- Jamaat is not the answer, with all due respect, you cannot just send someone with a serious drug or alcohol addiction straight into Jamaat and expect a miracle- they WILL have physical withdrawals. I’ve even heard about addicts going into Jamaat and then stealing the collection box, clocks and frames to sell for drugs. This may be helpful AFTER detox and rehabilitation but not during active addiction.
- I hear often that ‘you cannot make someone change’ that if they don’t want to change then rehab won’t help them. Understand this- a person who is in active addiction, while going through psychological and physical withdrawal will most often refuse to go into rehab- it is not their choice, YOU have to be strong- tough love etc. You can only have a decent conversation with them once they’re sober. Also, they don’t get a say in the matter- they are endangering themselves and those around them- It’s also illegal- It’s up to you to put your foot down and get them the help they need. Once they are detoxed, withdrawal free and level headed they will thank you- trust me. Occasionally you do get those who will say they love the lifestyle, they love the high and they do want that lifestyle even when sober- this is when you have to decide if you can live with an addict forever because living with a recovering addict and living with an addict are two different things.
- Violence and abuse from them should not be tolerated. Again, tough love. They are honestly the best manipulators and are excellent at making you feel sorry for them and playing on your emotions. If they get violent have them put in cuffs and taken to rehab. If they steal from you or are behaving dangerously then call the cops, have them arrested and let the ultimatum be jail or rehab. This will require you to be incredibly firm and strong – you have to be cruel to be kind.
- Rehab is an answer but not one or two weeks. The longer the better, even if it means a period of 3 to 6 months. A rehab that has proper counsellors or social workers, that focuses on spiritual upliftment but also builds them up and doesn’t break them down.
- Understand that relapses do happen, the key is acting on it the moment you notice it– getting them help immediately and not giving into their pleas that it was ‘only once’ or that they can fight the addiction on their own etc.- be firm and strong. Ultimatums also work most times. Here though you cannot keep giving ultimatums and making threats and not acting on them- they will not take you seriously or respect you.
- Even once they’re out keep in touch with the rehab facility. Certain Rehabs offer boosters, where you go in for a few days every few months for motivation and as a reminder- these are a good idea. Don’t take it for granted that they did the rehab and will be fine- addiction is a daily struggle- reminders are good- reminding them why they need to stay clean, motivating and reconnecting spiritually.
- Naltrexone implants are being done around the country and it can be very beneficial getting these done after a proper rehab and detox. This helps with opioid addiction e.g. heroin and even for alcohol addiction. It lasts 3 months and then you can have another implant done. Naltrexone is also available in tablet form but then obviously this is more difficult to monitor. Naltrexone ensures that even if they take something they feel sick and don’t get a high so they won’t even try to take anything on Naltrexone. Naltrexone is very different to Suboxone and Subutex- it isn’t habit forming.
- Allah consciousness– zikr, salaah, taalim at home, listening to inspirational talks in the car all will help them try to stay clean once they’re clear headed. Good company, being surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family gives them motivation to stay clean. Inclusion not shaming and exclusion- love and support and helping them get back on their feet.
- Distractions– having something to focus on that they’re passionate about and that keeps their minds busy will be beneficial after rehabilitation. Hobbies, sports etc. I’ve frequently been told that having a child or another child may give them the push they need and make them ‘grow up’ – I actually know someone who did change when the wife gave him an ultimatum that she would take their unborn child and move out if he didn’t clean up his act- this was when he got help and has been clean ever since… this won’t work for everyone though. It’s also not something I would advise- bringing a child into that situation hoping it will change them.
- Sometimes they need further counselling, there are unresolved childhood issues, self-esteem issues etc.- even a life coach can sometimes help. But unfortunately not everyone has issues – some are honestly just so deep in it and love the high- they need to find other things in life that give them a natural high- passions- things to live for and get excited about.
- Disowning, shaming, ridiculing will not get you far. It is up to us and I firmly believe it is our responsibility that when our fellow brother or sister slips that we try and help them up. Hate the sin not the sinner, understand that this is not the life anyone would’ve chosen for themselves , that they can’t help themselves but YOU the people around them can help them- every time they slip up put them right back into rehab. Although if you are in a marriage and have children and you have tried getting them help several times and whatever I’ve suggested then it may be time you gave up- thinking about their safety and getting them out of an unhealthy situation- that doesn’t mean their family has to also give up though- someone around them should try to help their family member no matter how frustrating it may be – if this means leaving them in the rehab for 6 months, 12 months then so be it. It’s about saving a life. At times if you truly have exhausted all options, if they have resorted to crime or prostitution to feed their habits and are a danger to you and the rest of the family it may be necessary to cut ties- only you know what your reality is- I cannot tell you what to do – I can only urge you to exhaust all options so that you don’t regret the decision for the rest of your life. You also can’t make someone change, you can get them help and once they’re sober you need to hear how they truly feel- if they blatantly after detox and counselling would rather choose drugs over life then you have to do whats right for you too.
- Understand what their triggers are and keep an eye out for them. This involves keeping the lines of communication open. Spot/surprise drug tests may even be a good idea and motivation not to slip up.
- Get yourself help– it can be so exhausting both physically and mentally living with an addict, you need your own support structure and counselling. Addicts will often guilt you and manipulate you into keeping their secret- they make it seem like you broke their trust or you divulged secrets from the marriage- NO! addiction is not a marriage issue, it is NOT something you should be forced to deal with alone. Get them help, get yourself help- give them an ultimatum- pack your bags and leave and demand they get proper help if they’re refusing. Do NOT keep quiet and do nothing (this doesn’t mean you shout it out to the world, you can still conceal their faults by telling only those who can actually be of assistance). Work on yourself, make your own money, let him realise that you have options, that you are strong enough to manage on your own if you need to- this may give him the realisation that he could genuinely lose you and he may be more willing to seek help- if you have nowhere to go, are financially reliable on him etc. he may just use this to take advantage of the situation and threaten to leave YOU if you tell anyone about his addiction.
- When we hear about people having affairs, gambling, dealing in ribaa etc. we don’t look down on them as much as those who have a drug or alcohol addiction- why? Are they not all major sins? We also seem as a community to view drinking as worse than popping pills. The amount of people young and old that are seriously addicted to codeine based products like stilpane, adco-dols etc and sleeping pills is alarming yet many times we don’t class them as ‘druggies’ yet codeine, morphine, heroin are in the same class. We definitely need more awareness. Porn addiction is also quite serious and not something to be taken lightly.
- As for jadoo and evil eye – yes occasionally perhaps this may be the case but they will still have developed a physical addiction and simply taking them to an aamil only isn’t going to solve the problem at hand. Let’s get serious! They were using the drugs and need detox and to get over the withdrawal stage no matter what led them to it.
- Sometimes YOU also need to change. Yes YOU. I didn’t realise this till I heard a talk about Allah not changing the condition of people until they change themselves. I needed to connect with my creator, I needed to read all these Duas to ask Allah to help him and keep him clean, to help me and give me strength, to guide me. I needed to change so that he could change too. I needed to read Salaatul Hajaat and all my other prayers that I had been neglecting. At every step I sought his guidance with Istikharah and HE always showed me what to do. Sometimes this is your test too.
- They need someone to talk to when they’re thinking of relapsing or having a hard day– ideally this should be the wife/some other close family that they can call for motivation and counselling and so you can help them to remove triggers and access to substances or just keep them busy and help them cope with the psychological addiction- sometimes this may be a professional e.g. someone from the rehab but at any stage that they slip up they need to understand that the best thing for everyone is to come clean and let you know immediately so that you can help them to help themselves- it might sound impossible but with proper communication free of judgment, yelling and belittling it is absolutely possible. Know the signs to look out for.
- A Dua given to me by Mufti Siraj Desai to read constantly truly helped me. There isn’t a day that I don’t read this Dua for him.
Rabbana Hablana min azwaajina wadhurriy-yatina, Qurrata a’ayun wa-jalna lil-muttaqeena Imaama
O my Rabb! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous [25:74]
No-one can really tell a wife to stay and put up with this type of behaviour- you know what you can bear- you should seek Allah’s help and take it from there but I can tell you that happiness is possible. Having the man/woman that you love back is possible, recovering from drug addiction is very possible with an awesome support structure not by shunning people, not by exclusion and disowning people but only with love, tough love and proper help. It is not an easy road- it is one full of tears, disappointments, anger, frustration etc. but sometimes it IS all worth it.
Allah ease the pain of all those watching the ones they love go down this destructive path. Allah give you strength to do the right thing and get them the right help. Allah make it easy for all the people fighting their nafs and addictions daily, give them the strength to stay clean- give their family the understanding of how to help them. Help us as a community to keep our children and spouses away from all things harmful and give us your guidance to do what is best for us and them. Ameen.