Life Inside the Rehab

Arguably the youngest Phensidyl addict in Dhaka
Arguably the youngest Phensidyl addict in Dhaka

The moment before the ritual begins is intense. A room full of junkies wait with bated breath as Mamun smooths out the foil paper between his thumb and forefinger. Rashed, his trusty sidekick and partner in crime finishes tightening up a crispy new hundred taka note. Shawon, the third and the most experienced member of the group deftly modifies a common thirty-taka lighter to suit their needs. He breaks the metal top of the lighter, replaces it with a surgical needle and creates a small but steady flame. One end of the foot-long foil paper is layered with the finest Afghani heroin that can be procured in Dhaka, ten thousand takas for a measly few grams. At the other end of the foil sits a bright pink methamphetamine pill, more commonly known as “Yaba”. The flame hits the foil and the ritual begins, filling the room with a mixed scent of strawberries and burnt rubber. Mamun holds the foil in his right hand and deftly maneuvers the lighter under the foil to melt the pill from one end of the foil to another. His eyes brighten up as the pill’s path on the foil is blocked by a small blob of heroin. Mamun turns up the flame and begins to inhale the most dangerous concoction of drugs known to man. A mixture of Yaba and Heroin, inhaled together on the same foil paper. A practice so lethal, that even the most seasoned addicts think twice before engaging in it. More commonly known as “speed-balling”, a term coined by the drug addicted youth of Dhaka.
Incredible as it may seem, Mamun was released from rehab less than two weeks ago. He spent the last three months of his life locked away in one of the ‘elite’ rehabilitation centres of the city. “You know what’s ironic? I only used to smoke pot before going to rehab. I knew dealers all over town, so I figured I could sell the occasional bag of pot to make some extra cash. I used to store my stash in a well hidden spot under my bed. Obviously it wasn’t hidden well enough because my mother found it, lost her mind; and sent me packing off to rehab. I spent three whole months cut off from my friends, rubbing shoulders with the most seasoned addicts. Some of them were children of very powerful people, well-connected enough to smuggle pills and heroine inside the rehab. They would have their chauffeurs or butlers deliver the goods during visiting hours. I know it sounds terrible, but you need to be in their shoes before you start judging them. There is little to do in a rehab. No phone, no internet, no friends, no video games. Only fellow junkies obsessing over drugs, talking about the massive amounts of pills there were going to score once they got out from this dump. Long after the lights went out, I and my cell mate would huddle around to unwrap the smuggled drugs. You learn to be creative when you’re stuck in a rehab for three months. My friend had no trouble hiding a lighter, a stash of foil paper and a carton of cigarettes right under their very noses. The foil paper was smuggled in the most ingenious way. His chauffeur brought double cheese burgers from American burger wrapped in A-grade foil paper, and the pills were concealed under the patties. Hiding carton of cigarettes required more finesse,  he convinced one of his attendants that he was on a fast-track to break free of all forms of addiction; and cigarettes were his only vice. There are very few problems in a rehab that can’t be solved by a bit of sweet talking and a crispy thousand taka note,” said Mamun.
Rashed, an addict from the same group has a very different story to tell. “My father wasn’t as kind as Mamun’s,” he laughs. “I was sent to a very strict rehab, run by catholic priest. The rehab was in the middle of nowhere. Singair, Manikganj to be precise. A small building that housed 40 male patients and 25 female patients. The first few days, when my heroin withdrawal was at its worst. I begged and pleaded the attendants to let me out. They had to wrestle me down and tranquilize me before they could put me to sleep. The first two weeks were the worst. No drugs, no money, no friends, no phone. I lived like an animal. The other addicts in that rehab were from a different planet, I practically had nothing in common with them except the addiction. So for three months I spent my days fantasizing about the day I would get out of this hellhole and score a truck load of heroin.  The thought of being free at the end of three months kept me going. I guess the most critical flaw in that rehab was the lack of sympathetic counselors. The counselors they had were barely qualified; there advice to deal with everything was study hard, listen to your parents, pray to god for salvation”.  said Rashed.
All addicts agree on one thing though. That sending someone to a rehabilitation centre is an extreme measure and should only be reserved as a last resort. Rehabs should be reserved for the hardcore addict who wants to get over his addiction but is powerless to help himself. Minors and adolescents experimenting with drugs are the worst victims of rehabilitation centres. They go in as recreational drug users, and come out as seasoned veterans.

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