VIDEO: Junkie turns crusader against drug addiction
Srinagar, July 26: From being a worthless drug addict to a man whose services and expertise are now used to deter abusers from the path of addiction, Manzoor Ahmad has become a beacon of hope for many. Considering that only years ago he was in treatment for his own drug addiction, his journey has been nothing short of miraculous and inspiration for many. Manzoor, 55, a stick thin man from Dalgate area of district Srinagar, with high cheek bones peeping out from a gaunt face, narrates his long-drawn battle with drugs. “I went to Goa in my teen years. There, I roamed around with foreigners who lured me into drugs,” he said. The addiction struck with him for the next ten years. During the period, he not only lost his health, but also his hard-earned money and many friends. His frequent escapes from his home were taking a toll on his family. Besides, they had to bear the brunt of his rage, if he did not get his daily dose of drugs. “If I didn’t get my daily dose of drugs, I turned aggressive and my family members bore the brunt of my rage,” recalls remorseful Manzoor. Drugs also deprived Manzoor from his passion for sports.
“I was very athletic as a teenager. I actively participated in sports like cricket and football but drugs took away everything including my stamina,” he said with a sigh. The former drug-addict had a large circle of friends who were all into drugs and most of them were from elite circles of the society. “We used to gather in small groups and do the drugs in abandoned buildings or parks at night time.” “After taking drugs, I slept till midday and woke up with writhing pain. Sometimes pain overwhelmed me to such an extent that I had to tie ropes to my arms. It would continue till I got my next dose of drugs,” narrates Manzoor. Such was his situation that his father thought he could not be rehabilitated. “I remember one day my father gave me money for drugs and said if they can earn me good health then I should continue with it. Soon after he expired,” remembers Manzoor with a heavy emotional voice. In 2008, Manzoor accidently met a guy from Family Planning Association India (FPAI) who pretended to be a drug addict. The brief encounter gave him a shot at getting his life back. “I met this person on the roadside. Without revealing his identity, he told me that he will provide me a substance that gives the same feeling as drugs and that too free of cost. Since, I was running short of money so I agreed to accompany him.” Without realizing, Manzoor entered the treatment program which extended for months together. This included undergoing various tests, medication, and intense counselling sessions. “Slowly and steadily, I realized drugs would bring me nothing, but misery. My hatred for drugs grew to such an extent that mere cigarette smoke around me was irritating me,” he said. After the completion of the treatment, Manzoor brought a three-wheeler and made living out of it. In the meantime, he also got an opportunity to give back and share the message of hope and recovery to other individuals and families affected by addiction. “Seeing my will power, the organization approached me to work as a staffer and help them in rehabilitating other addicts. As I have seen the worst, I readily accepted this offer,” he said. His job is a challenging one which includes identifying the drug addicts, persuading them for treatment, and later on help them with counselling. Besides this, he offers free lifts to the patients throughout their treatment. “Dealing with drug addicts demands lot of patience. On my first meeting, I take them out and offer them something to eat. After few days, I meet them again and slowly I bring up the topic of drugs and remind them of its dangerous consequences,” said Manzoor, who is now the grandfather, and father to three children. He added, “It is a gradual process. Nobody agrees at the very first instance. But if you show them love and affection, sooner or later they come around.” His colleagues are all praises for him. One of the staffers at Family and Planning Association of India said, “No one knows his name in this locality. He might appear to you like a commoner whom you can easily take for granted, but he does the phenomenal work. He has saved many lives and without his support, our endeavor to help such people was impossible.” The FPA is funded by J&K SACS of State Aids Control Society. “The road to transformation was long and hard but I made it through. There is no way that could have happened without God’s help,” says Manzoor with a smile.