I was in school when I first tried smoking, probably in 7th standard. My friends and I met at the back road of a building after classes. One of us had bought one cigarette and we lit it up and the five of us shared it. I didn’t like it one bit, it burned my lungs and made me feel sick. But I didn’t want to accept it as my friends liked it. Now that I think about it, probably we all were trying to act cool. Maybe none of us liked it. Because of the lie we all told, we started smoking almost every day. Soon we bought one whole pack and smoked one cigarette each. I was getting good at it. I could inhale it all in till my lungs filled up, hold in the smoke for a few seconds and exhale it with great satisfaction. Before I knew it, I was hooked.
A few grades higher, I started going to wine shops to buy alcohol. I was still with the same group of friends. We started with beer, soon progressed to whiskey and vodka. One of my buddies lived with his uncle who was mostly away for work. We would grab that opportunity and turn the house into a place full of smoke and booze. That was my life.
My parents on a few occasions caught some ash and a cigarette bud in the bathroom a few months later and I even came home drunk one night. My dad hit me on multiple occasions, Maa would cry her eyes out, but I never improved. The problem was that I saw no wrong in what I was doing. I was just rebellious thinking they knew nothing about me or my problems. In fact, I had no problems. It was just school and friends. I was lying to myself.
All this happened when I was still in school. I was completely off track. I barely passed my 10th board examinations. I was taken out of that school before starting 11th and put in a stricter school. But I had already damaged things. My old group of friends soon split up so I found a new bunch. It was a group of guys and girls who used to hang out in one of those shady bars. They were all older than me, in the second or third year of college. They introduced me to other drugs. We would do those in and out. I couldn’t live without them. The drinking was out of control too. My life crashed when I flunked in 12th standard. My dad told me to never talk to him again. My mother was too angry and hurt by me. They were so busy with managing finances and my siblings that they blamed themselves for not stopping me. The atmosphere of the house was terrible. I was totally lost but never once I felt that not drinking would solve the situation.
My parents forced me to work in a local departmental store after school to keep me busy. Yes, I had to repeat 12th. The money I used to make as a shopkeeper was blown up by me on doing more harmful drugs now. My toxic group of friends introduced me to those. There were days when my parents didn’t know where I was. I missed school and stopped going to work. I don’t even remember where I spent those countless nights. I started doing those drugs a lot. The high would just make me feel something I can’t describe. My life was not in my control one bit. I had started to pick pockets to satisfy my urges. Plus those friends of mine were all rich so we were never short of drugs. Once I was at one of their places, and we were doing what we would do every day when something terrible happened. One of the girls overdosed. We didn’t know she had overdosed, we couldn’t identify the problem. But she started having seizures, horrible ones. We couldn’t call the police so we called her brother. We were too freaked out. He came and took her to the hospital where she was hospitalized and almost lost her life. Her rich businessman dad made sure no police was involved. When I became sober after two days, I felt as if something had changed. I didn’t want to end up like her. I went back home and confided in my parents. I was admitted to a rehab facility for two years. It was the most difficult phase of my life because overcoming drugs is a battle which is not won by all. But after that period, I came out much better. It was and still is a struggle after I became clean.
It’s been two years since I became drug-free. Now I volunteer with an NGO for youth who are in the same dark hole of drugs as I was. I also workout regularly, eating healthy, have good relations with my family and most importantly, I have good friends. It’s true what our parents tell us, that company matters. Unfortunately, I learned it the hard way. Looking back, I wish I had been sensible. I was told drugs were bad but I just ignored it. I made the worse decisions. And I strongly discourage anyone to even try them. They will grab hold of your life before you know it.
I plan to finish my 12th and get a college degree. My life is good now, it’s back on track and in my control. And I will never go down again! -Karan
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