Life on a Deathbed

By Subah Bhatia.

According to statistics by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009.

We talk about drug addicts as if they’re heinous people. We talk of them killing themselves slowly, we talk ill of their state of oblivion and of their stupidity. But drug addicts aren’t oblivious. They know what they’re taking. They know what they are doing to themselves. They are better acquainted with the dismaying effects of these drugs than any of us. But sneaking a peek on the other side of the coin, they are also better acquainted with what it means to be addicted than any of us: being so mentally and physically needy for an escape that they allow themselves to ruin their body. They let their brain’s halves fight. They let those halves battle till the one that is able to reason is rendered useless. They allow the chemical to run through their veins. To emerge victorious against their consciousness. The needle isn’t just a prick, it’s a doorway. The fluid isn’t just a killer, it’s a relief. Temporary as it is, it’s all they need to live that day out. They don’t take drugs to kill themselves, they take it hoping to mentally survive the moment, every fiber of their being pulsating, screaming that tomorrow will be a clean slate. 

People say that they did it to themselves. That it was their choice and that they shouldn’t have stepped into this realm of doom in the first place. That some of the addicts can be held responsible for letting peer pressure and the desire to be ‘cool’ influence them into taking this step. And with these people, I agree. But who they have in mind are not those forced into drugs at ages so very young. Those who are too naïve their first time to know what they’re doing to themselves. Those who were told that this was a getaway from all worldly problems. Those who were told in their mere teens that this powder would help them cope with their parents’ divorce or the death of a loved one. Those who thought that escaping down this road was better than committing suicide. Yes, they weakened. Yes, they succumbed,and allowed themselves to be dragged into this darkness. But they did it thinking that it would save them. They were too young, too immature, and too disheveled to grasp the horrors of their choice.

What fails to be brought to light is that it was just one wrong choice of theirs that ruined their lives. And it’s said that everyone deserves a second chance. Being addicted is so much more than just continuously filling your system with impurities. It’s a cage. A vicious tyrant that forces you to believe that there is no way out. Being addicted often isn’t a choice. Being addicted isn’t just being someone who can’t control themselves and hence is held responsible for his or her condition. It’s being chained, being someone they don’t always have control over. It’s easier to succumb to the lust than it is to face the pain of keeping away. And this can be changed. They can be better. They can break the restraints and train the mind. But alone, with a body that is weak and a mind that doesn’t listen, it is a painfully impossible feat. 

Addicts  know of the pain they cause everyone around them. They know they’re throwing their life away. But those addicted souls are not concerned with that. At that moment, they are satiating a need within them. A want so strong, so very overpowering that their brain tells them it’s ‘Inject or die’.
Imagine. A confined black space. A choked throat, chapped lips and a suffocating, screaming, tortuous demon. A demon that clasps around your windpipe, that doesn’t allow you to breathe, unless the air you take in has that sweet, sensual addiction entwined in its folds. A demon that doesn’t let you think, doesn’t let you speak, doesn’t let you function, doesn’t let your blood run unless that wretched fluid runs with it. 

These people do not need your pity. Your contempt. Or your disapproval. They need support. Support that lets them know there is always a second option. That it is possible to get better and that they have it in them to live freely once again. Many have reasons to live. What is lacking is a voice that tells them it’s possible for their body to function without having to eat itself away to do so. Their mind believes that there is no way out. That the only catalyst that will keep them breathing is the fumes that clog their throat. What they need is an alternative– sweet reassurance of the fact that there are choices apart from the needles and smoke they use. A messiah that shows them that life isn’t to be lived off a deathbed.

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