Substance abuse and addiction is the story of almost every household in Pakistan. It has exempted no one, not even the educated and especially not the young. Karachi becomes the most tragic city, when it is ranked second in ABCD 2018 Cannabis Index. For readers, it may seem that many lives are, or have been, in squander; however, Charles Frazier in his “Cold Mountain” says: “[No] matter what a waste one has made of one’s life, it is ever possible to find some path to redemption, however partial.”
Such an example is true among us in Karachi – through the life story of Muhammad Ali. His journey from battling substance abuse for 12 years to becoming an addiction therapist at AAS Recovery Center (ARC) is truly inspirational and hopeful to those directly or indirectly battling with addiction.
It all began in the sixth grade with smoking because of curiosity and maintaining a ‘cool’ self-image. It became a need for calming emotional disturbances due to family conflicts. During the summer in grade eight, through a mutual social contact, he was introduced to hashish (hash), which was again out of curiosity but then became a means for escaping from his negative feelings towards family, relationships, adjustments, and pressure in general. At the same time, he wanted to push himself to his limits and prove the power and control he was able to have over himself. From tasting the substance for the first time, this led to consuming it every weekend with friends.
This went on till the time of Matriculation and continued through the university years. With every next educational stage came a sense of more autonomy, such as driving his car and having an ever expanding social circle. On the other hand, rebelliousness increased too – now it was not only hash during weekends but sometimes alcohol as well. Parents began to show concern, but it was ignored, as Ali, with his extraordinary intellect, fulfilled their basic demand of attaining good grades, and there were no further grounds for the family to interfere in his independent life.
This is an excerpt from the print issue.
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