The Rise and Fall of a Drug Addict

By Lunar Loops · Aug 3, 2006 · ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    This from

    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.

    Share This Article


  1. Micklemouse
    I'd never heard of this particular amphetamine before, but apparently it's very popular in the Middle East & has been used to treat hyperkynesis for quite some time. Interesting...

    From The Saudi Gazette...
  2. snapper
    Captagon is a hybid of theophylline (methylxanthine in tea which is a mild stimulant and bronchiodilator) and amphetamine. There are contradictory studies out there as the whether the drug or metabolized amphetamine are responsible for the stimulant effects, though a journal article attributes effects primarily to parent compound (Drug Alcohol Depend. 1986 Jun;17(2-3):235-57.). Never heard of this one before, probably because it is scheduled most places and is unlikely to be clandestinely manufactured since the amphetamine precursor alone would sell as easily ... SWIM guesses that in theory the theophylline is just there as a time release for the speed, or is there some other advantage of captagon over regular amphetamine ?

  3. FrankenChrist
    Captagon? That's an oldie. It was used as a study aid in western Europe as well, but no one has it anymore.
  4. Nagognog2
    Bongo was prescribed theophylline for a respiratory problem - as he was living in Seattle and nearly drowned in the climate there, wet, wet, wetter! The theophylline had no real psychotropic effects greater than a cup or two of tea. Just made him slightly nervous.
  5. Bajeda
    Saudi is extremely strict when it comes to drugs, but hash is very common there, and DXM is heavily abused as the cough syrups are practically made for straight out drinking (no other active ingredients, practically no inactive ingredients, and the flavour is only sugar).

    Heroin is also fairly abused, though getting the death penalty is quite easy.

    Saudi Arabia is definitely not the best place to be if you are a drug addict.

    Just my couple of cents.
  6. VincentVan
    I´m not a doctor but that saudi article does´nt make a lot of sense in a scientific perspective to me.
    "will destroy the neurotransmitter serotonine and cause protracted disabilities"
    hmm... whoever wrote this sentence does not have a clear idea of the neurological and synaptical interactions with neurotransmitters and psychoactive substances.
    "residues that destroy nerve cells in the brain" : This sentence makes me even more suspicious of the scientific credentials of this author; and the idea that a pharmacological specialty, produced in a pharmaceutical plant are made in " Unhealthy and illegitimate ways" is surely curious.
    If this jurnalist would have done his homework he would also have discovered that dopamine and serotonine are not produced by "brain´s nerve cells" (probably he means neurons).
    I know I´m repeating myself, but when you read these kind of articles the first thing you should ask yourself is: "Why is this being published?"
    I have lived some years in the middle east , and I have had occasion to see for myself under what conditions journalists and newspapers are forced to operate in that unfortunate area, therefore I feel confident in saying that the probability that the guy described in this article even exists at all are less than 30%.
    Of course I don´t know what exactly there is behind this article, and it may even be that it´s all absolutely true, but I cant avoid thinking that a new "drug scare" in Saudi Arabia in this moment would be ideal to deflect public attention from the militant islamist message and from the methods used by the saudi governement and its security services to repress and persecute the extremists.
    A russian friend , some time ago, told me how in his country , when the young people became disaffected and angry and begun to protest and ask to the Yeltsin government some accountability for the plundering of the national assets that it had set in motion, suddenly very cheap heroin of a very good quality appeared on the russian streets; and taking drugs of all kinds became the hip and fashionable thing to do for the russian youth.
    The voices of protest soon disapeared proportionally with the increase in the use of drugs.
    Strange, is´nt it?

  7. Bajeda

    While I agree that journalistic standards aren't especially great in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East, I think you are being a bit negative about the situation there.

    While misinformation and lack of research are problems in some Arab journalism, they don't just make up stuff for the most part. They tend to report actual news, but sometimes are pressured by the government to emphasize certain points or even more likely a person interviewed for an article doesn't want to be connected with negative consequences of his statements (such as more kids taking drugs) so he doesn't quite report the information correctly to save his ass.

    Also, this is from Jeddah, which is an extremely modern and fairly liberal (for Saudi) city where government oppression isn't as strong and Western influence has a hold.

    An example of how misinformation can appear in Arabic media can be seen here ---->

    I lived in the Middle-East for 16 years so I have a decent idea of the political and social systems there, especially in the Gulf region. However with Saudi it can be hard to estimate the government's influence sometimes so I could be wrong on this count.
  8. Forthesevenlakes
    swim would have to agree with vincentvan that the scientific "facts" of this article sound like a propaganda mill. to swim's knowledge, neither theophylline nor ephedrine destroy nerve endings. repeated doses of amphetamine can cause some brain damage, but swim thinks that this may be in doses exceeding recreational use. furthermore none of these drugs even affect serotonin receptors, which is another fault in logic. the key sentence though is that it can lead to "rioting and violent acts to others". sounds, indeed, like they are trying to shift focus from social problems to drugs. suddenly, any political protester would be doing so because they are on drugs, not because there are issues that need to be changed in saudi society!

    however, swim realizes swibajeda probably has a much better idea of how the media operates there, and concedes that perhaps this article is not the norm for reporting. swim always believed that the government there had a huge influence on the media, but he could be wrong.
  9. Micklemouse
    Ephedrine does indeed have an effect on serotonin, as do amphetamines & theophylline. As ever, remember that people on the whole are not rats...

    From 'An Evaluation of l-Ephedrine Neurotoxicity With Respect To Hyperthermia And Caudate/Putamen Microdialysate Levels Of Ephedrine, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Glutamate' (Bowyer, Newport, Slikker et al) 1999

    (Sakata, Fuhimoto, et al. 1975).

    The strange thing is that I can't find any mention of ephedrine as an ingredient of Captagon anywhere ( active ingredient is Fentylline, which is indeed a compound of amphetamine & theophylline,


    It could be that the captagon siezed have been doctored, with ephedrine added, or else they have only just sussed in the Gulf that ehedrine is used in the manufacture of amphetamines...
  10. Forthesevenlakes
    swim stands corrected! he was going by the (perhaps over simplified) main action of amphetamines as dopamine reuptake inhibitors, and ephedrine and theophylline somehow affecting the acetylcholine receptors. wonder if the 5-HT action is a secondary effect of changing the activity of these other neurotransmitters, or if these drugs are directly binding the 5-HT receptor.

    you know, the ephedrine thing threw swim off as well. he couldnt tell what exactly was in captagon tablets, or if they are manufactured in clandestine labs, or just diverted from legit sources.
  11. Nagognog2
    I have read old texts on khat which stated the active ingredients were nor-psuedo-ephedrine and ephedrine. Which we now know is utterly false. But what was the first thing the USA did when it decided to go visit Somalia with blackhawk helicopters? Outlawed khat.

    Could this play a role in misinformation about the ingredients of captagon in the Saudi press? Hmm....
  12. VincentVan
    I can´t really see in what my opinions differ from yours Bajeda.
    I know that in the gulf area specially in Barhein, some of the UAE, Quatar and after the war in Kuwait too, have emerged some outstanding exemlpes of non-western media (we all learned to know Al-Arabiah and al-Jazira) but these realities besides being confined to a limited and peculiar area of the Islamic world, unfortunately are still the exception and not the rule.
    My personal knowlege of the middle east is mostly limited to Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Yemen (Lybia and Sudan are not even worth mentioning in the same sentence with the word "information") and in those countries the intelligent readers have developed a peculiar way of guessing what the reality may be , according to the different kinds of lies and misinformation published by the media.
    For exemple: if a new campaign against some new social evil is announced, it means that some political repression is on the horizon; If new wonderful public works are being approved, it means that taxes are going to rise, etc. etc.
    I don´t want to be misunderstood: I love that area and specially I love its people , and i really do not think that our western media are the perfect exemple they claim to be or that they should be the only standard against which all other media have to be valued; still I feel sincerely sorry for the conditions under which many (not all) of my middle eastern collegues are forced to operate.

  13. Forthesevenlakes
    reminds swim of a quote he heard about media in the old eastern european communist countries. They could take what was being reported in the news, and know that the exact opposite was happening. They felt sorry for the rest of the world, who had the correct news being reported about half the time, but who had no idea which half.

    Seems kind of like whats going on with the Arab news article in question.
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!