From hell and back

Candid confessions

Kshitij Aggarwal (name changed) works as volunteer with rehabilitation centres for drug addicts in the city.

When asked about his experience, Aggarwal answered with an Albert Einstein quote: “Insanity is something as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Aggarwal who works closely with teenagers wracked by drug addiction says, “We rehabilitate kids who are charged with criminal behaviour of stealing and conning. If you see, usually minors are the ones who are charged with such deviant behaviour and that there has to be a reason for them to indulge in such activities.”

The reason according to Aggarwal is mostly drug addiction. “Drugs can make you do things. However, nobody knows that they are going to be one (drug addict) though, when they start.”

It’s a like karma chakra explained Aggarwal, “Our brains are built to sustain and repeat activities that give us pleasure. These pleasures may be referred to as natural rewards. These rewards are detected with certain hormonal secretions like serotonin, dopamine, endorphins etc.

But the same hormones are secreted in thrice the amount when a person induces certain drugs that initiate the secretion unnaturally. Most drugs, when abused, target the brain’s reward system by flooding it with dopamine.”

Aggarwal has been a multiuser who started with inhalants in school and ended up injecting smack (an impure version of heroin). He admits to have cheated and conned his friends and parents to obtain drugs.

But he admits that to “being clean for a year” now. “If we had been talking like this a year back, I would definitely have taken a hit before meeting you. You know, to conduct the conversation better,” Aggarwal candidly admitted to Metrolife.

“Addiction is a disease, just like diabetes. You have it in you and people suffer a relapse after 10–15 years,” he explains, adding, many users may also never become addicts.

“It is the result of your environment and biology. I started using inhalants with friends in school and descended into smack in my teenage years. It was all for fun. But later it became my routine, essential for my survival. I left everything I had, friends, studies, girlfriends and life too. I would get up in the morning and think three things, where to get the money from, where to obtain the drug and where to use it. Suddenly, it stopped feeling like fun and more like a need,” Aggarwal reveals.

“I started realising it, but couldn’t do much about it. I tried stopping but I would start after 5-7 days maximum,” he recalls.

When asked what brought him to The Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM) rehabilitation centre, he tried to explain it as simply as possible: “My life was
nearly at a dead end, either I would die or be here. So I came here.”

“I shamed my parents and myself. My parents never neglected me but they were lenient. My friends left me and I hung out with users who I could not trust. Saying that I was ashamed is a shallow word.”

He explained that addiction has symptoms and during withdrawal the symptoms get enhanced and people involved with the addict often show symptoms of ‘codependency,’ where they show the same symptoms as the addict.

“It helps to know the addiction cycle, from use to abuse. This knowledge has proven to be successful in avoiding abuse of substances,” says Aggarwal.

“Back then as a user I was in euphoria which was rather temporary. But now I am less euphoric but the happiness is more permanent,” he says simply.

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the person.

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