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RIYADH, 10 April 2003 Drug addiction can strike even in Saudi Arabia, a country that takes a severe attitude to all forms of stimulants. Al-Jazeera newspaper interviewed three Saudis who went through the roller-coaster of drug addiction before conquering the habit and finding rehabilitation.
B.M., now a father of three, was addicted to drugs for 20 long years. I started taking pills 20 years ago during my exams. I used them to keep me awake. I thought I would use them for the duration of the exams. But by the time exams were over I discovered that I was hooked on them. The addiction lasted 20 years.
I stopped praying. I hurt my family and parents in all kinds of ways. I used to beat my wife and kids a lot. I stole from my father and I even sold my wifes jewelry. I had to sell everything just to satisfy my urge for drugs. When I had no money, I borrowed from my relatives. I used to tell them that I wanted money to pay some debt. My mother became sick because of me and died soon after.
I was fired. I abandoned my own family and children. I slept on the street. I did not want to see anyone from my family or friends. The only thing that mattered was the drugs.
He was arrested once, but when he was released from prison he went straight back to the habit.
The only reason I came off drugs eventually was my wife, who stood by me with immense patience. One day she told me bluntly that I had two choices: Drugs and divorce. She was very serious. She cried and begged me to get medical help.
This was my moment of truth. I became determined to cure myself before I lost my kids. I went to the hospital with one of my relatives and there I got all possible support from the staff.
It was very tough getting rid of the addiction, but in the end it paid off. Now I am a clean person enjoying a new lease of life.
Another former drug addict spoke about drugs and their after-effects. Married with five children, he was addicted for seven years.
It all started after a long day of work at my fathers farm. I was taking a rest with my friend when he offered me a pill that he said would take all my pain away. I took it and felt very good. I began to go to him everyday to get the pills, until one day he said to me, You are going to have to pay me.
I began to treat my wife and kids very badly. One day and I will never forget that day I had a very bad fight with my wife because she would not allow me to use the drugs. My father came in to see what was happening. He was shocked at the way I talked to him. I shouted at him and called him names, and then I stormed out. My mother couldnt believe the way I talked to my father. When I came back to my house several days later, I noticed a pall of gloom hanging over the house.
Then my mother told me that my father had died.
I felt awful because I thought it was my fault. I would never forgive myself for having caused my fathers death. My relatives gathered around me determined to get me out of the mess I was in. They convinced me, for my sake and for the sake of my family, to go to hospital for treatment.
I went to hospital, and they gave me all the treatment I needed to kick the habit. I had been afraid that they would treat me like a criminal, but they treated me like a patient. I am cured now and back to my old life.
S.M., another ex-addict, talked about his disintegrating life under the influence of drugs. It all started because of my friend. He offered me drugs and insisted I take them. He said that they would take me to another world and make me feel happy.
I took them. I wish I hadnt, because he led me into addiction, because he wanted me to buy from him.
My life changed. I began to beat my wife every day. I beat my children for no reason. Sometimes I beat my son because he tried to hug me. One day, my six-year-old daughter came up to me and asked me why they do not see me more often at the house.
At that time I had nothing on my mind except drugs. She asked me to buy toys for her, and I exploded and started beating her up so badly. Then I dragged her out of the house and threw her into the street. She was crying and begging me to allow her back in the house; she promised she would never ask me to buy toys for her again. I cannot believe that I acted in such a way with my daughter.
One of my neighbors saw what happened and promised to get me cured of my addiction. He took me to hospital the next day, and there I got treatment. I am better now, he added. And believe me, not a day passes when I dont buy a toy for my daughter.