Sept 2002

  Drug Problem  
  within the Asian Community  
My name is Ali and I come from an Asian background. I have lived in Blackburn for about thirty years of my life. I have had a good standard of living. My family and I are very close.

I was first introduced to drugs at college. I started off by smoking cannabis with friends on a recreational basis. At the time I didn’t think much of it because it was something people did during college time. After I left college and got myself a job I found that I was using cannabis during my working day. I was regularly visiting my dealer week in and week out which I was quite happy and content with. My first introduction to heroin was at a friend’s wedding. We were all smoking cannabis at the time but heroin appealed to us a lot more once we were introduced to it. At first we thought nothing of it but I found that with heroin I was going to be scoring it on a regular basis. I thought I could handle the situation - taking heroin, going to work, then coming back from work and taking more heroin – but things went from bad to worse. I was deceiving people to fund my habit. I was lying to my family and my parents. My life suddenly deteriorated and went on one big downhill slope. It was very difficult for me to get myself back up from there.

I managed to get myself clean from heroin. My family gave me a lot of support. I was always resorting back to it though and having relapses. There was very little help from the Asian Community and they looked down on me as a drug addict. I always felt a sense of isolation from my people.

I was introduced to T.H.O.M.A.S. by one of the workers there, Hanif. He has been a godsend to me. Now I’m learning to cope without the drug use that deteriorated my life for such a long time that I had no sense of living. I have found that there are ways to cope with situations and life is a lot better without drugs. T.H.O.M.A.S. has helped me in many forms, both mentally and physically and has also helped me to feel good about myself.

I have been in the programme for the last five weeks. During this time I have learnt lots of things that I wouldn’t have appreciated outside – how to cope with the pressures of the outside world, things that would really get you down and make you resort back to drugs. I would recommend to everyone in the Asian Community – friends, colleagues or whoever they are, that people take help from organisations like T.H.O.M.A.S..

There is a very big problem in the Asian Community with regards to drugs. Over the last few years it’s escalated to a very high level. I think this is due to the way people are just brushing it under the carpet and not admitting that it exists. T.H.O.M.A.S. is an organisation that is being promoted in the Asian Community and asking people to come forward and seek this help that they are offering.

While I’ve been on this programme I’ve found that the inter-faith members are actually getting together with T.H.O.M.A.S. to bring this area that is of great concern in the Asian Community, and other communities as well, into the open and trying to sort it out. Being a Muslim myself I have found that at T.H.O.M.A.S. there are no restrictions placed on me with regards my faith. They have people on the team that actually take me to the Mosque when I need to say my prayers. It has actually brought me closer to God being here, whereas outside I tended to stay away from the Mosque. So, by coming to T.H.O.M.A.S. I’ve developed a greater love of my own religion. Therefore, people should not hold the misconception that religions and other faiths conceptions cannot mix together because of their diversities, in fact, if anything it can bring them closer to one’s faith. I have had the opportunity to look at my life in a different way.

I am hoping that after twelve weeks of rehabilitation to go to college in Oxford through T.H.O.M.A.S.. This will enable me to get back into education and get the support to keep me in a positive frame of mind and to stay healthy.

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