Arabs had a culture of alcohol consumption. Drug abuse was not prevalent during the times of the Prophet (sa). However, the following verse is an all-encompassing command for any sort of intoxicant that causes disease, destruction or leads to death:
“O you who have believed, indeed intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah] and diving arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.” (Al-Maidah 5:90)
According to Ibn Taimiyyah, historically, cannabis appeared among Muslims by the eighth century, when Tartars came into power. Its emergence was concomitant with the sword of Genghis Khan. He states that this was a trial for the Muslims, because they had turned away from Allah (swt) and His noble Prophet’s (sa) teachings.
Today, after more than 70 years of human brain studies, it has been concluded that addiction is a disease. Addicts have different brain functions. When the disease takes over, these changes in the brain diminish a person’s self-control and the ability to make healthy decisions. The brain develops an intense desire to consume drugs. This explains the obsessive and negative behaviour around addiction.
Addiction is also long lasting in nature. It cannot be fully cured but needs to be managed forever like type II diabetes, heart diseases, depression and asthma. The bottom line is that addicts need a lifelong commitment to disease management and wellness. They cannot be negligent after a few weeks of therapy or believe that there will be no relapse.
Addiction may be hereditary or influenced by environmental conditions.
When someone has been heavily using drugs or alcohol and they abruptly cut back, they often experience withdrawal symptoms. The intensity and length of these symptoms can change greatly, depending upon the substance involved, the biological make up of a person and the severity of their addiction.
Structured addiction treatment has very encouraging recovery rates, especially with family support. However, it is an uphill task for the loved ones. They must know that they did not cause it, they cannot control it and they cannot cure it. The willingness to get back to a thriving life has to come from the patient himself. This may take many years, multiple rehab sessions and countless relapses, before any real success is witnessed. However, it is a treatable disease.
Why do people become addicts? For many, it is not a conscious decision at all. It is not as if you plan to become an addict. A friend may have introduced you to a puff or a sniff socially. Someone may have aroused your curiosity enough to dare you into indulging. Before long, an innocent indulgence turns into a craving for more. You keep reminding yourself that you have it under control. But the next thing you know is that your control is gone. ‘HALT’ is to be remembered: hunger, anger, loneliness and tiredness are some common triggers of addiction.
Islam’s stance is always to face the reality and tell yourself the truth. There is no better cure for any disease, pain or condition than to own it and seek realistic help.
Successful recovery from substance abuse is very much possible. It requires changing one’s attitude, acquiring knowledge and developing skills for meeting the challenges of sobriety. Realization that one cannot do it without the guidance and help of the Highest and Mightiest power Allah (swt) is essential. A sincere repentance and seeking forgiveness are a must. Likewise, a strong belief that ‘I was not created to waste myself’ is important. And ultimately, not giving up on your Creator’s mercy, love and salvation by worshipping Him alone and taking the necessary professional and medical help is required.
May Allah (swt) always grant us conscious control of our mind, body and soul. Ameen.
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