This from Arabnews.com:
The Rise and Fall of a Drug Addict
Mahmoud Ahmad, Arab News JEDDAH, 3 August 2006 — It started with taking speed pills. Twenty years later, a Saudi man found himself in the hospital.
The story of the rise and fall of a drug abuser is an old one, but in Saudi Arabia — with strict laws against drug trafficking but a growing problem with drug abuse — the story tends to begin with a little white pill: Captagon, a gateway drug for young abusers.
M.S., as he is called, spoke to Al-Nadwa newspaper in a report published recently, about how an attraction to fenetyllene — the active ingredient in the commercially available stimulant Captagon — led to a love affair with cocaine and heroin.
Captagon is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but available under doctors’ supervision to treat extreme attention deficit disorders in many countries. It is also abused, often by youths, for its stimulating and appetite-suppressing effect.
M.S. said he fell into abusing Captagon by hanging with “bad company” in his youth, as he put it.
“I was 21 when I first tried drugs,” he said. “I do not remember what drove me to take drugs exactly. If I knew then that this would be the way I would end up, I would have stopped before I started,” said M. S.
The Makkah fruit vendor describes a gradual decline in his health, especially after beginning a cocaine habit, and then an eight-year bad relationship with heroin. He said he began to neglect his family duties and that his life revolved around maintaining his supply of the white powder.
He was arrested three times. The first two times, family members turned him into authorities hoping that he would go into rehab. Instead, he spent three months in prison on his first arrest. The second time he spent six months in prison. The third time, as he was in the midst of a cocaine high, he jumped from a fourth-story balcony in an attempt to escape. Though, he says, he didn’t realize it at the time, the jump may have been an attempt to end his life — or at least a negligent and foolhardy disregard for his well being.
“I suffered from broken bones and internal bleeding but I survived. I was in hospital for more than three months,” he said.
After treatment for his injuries, he went to prison for two years. Each time he was incarcerated, he was placed under drug counseling. None of this worked. Instead, it took losing his family for him to realize that his prison for the past 20 years had been his addiction.
“My family abandoned me. I don’t blame them. They didn’t want my children to see me that way,” he said. “My main concern was how to get drugs. I spent all what I had just to get drugs. I was taking heroin for eight years. I was living as a homeless man on the street. I stayed away from people because I did not want them to see me.”
Fortunately for M.S., his family received him again after he kicked his habits. But, he says that the Kingdom needs to offer outpatient treatment for drug abusers who have gone through rehab. He says that in spite of the treatments, drug addicts, like alcoholics, face sometimes insurmountable odds of returning to their addictions. Treatment for drug abuse must include follow-up counseling, he said. “No one understands what we go through except those that have been in our shoes before,” he said.