Category Archives: Ramadan Recovery

“Allah help me, I’m addicted to drugs and using in Ramadan!”

dua (1)Checking this websites dashboard today I was looking up all the search terms that people have been putting into google or other search engines that lead them to this website. One stuck out for me. “Allah help me I’m addicted to drugs and using in Ramadan”. Wow! The desperation of this statement – which is in fact a dua (prayer/supplication) to Allah – comes through tremendously. I can feel the pain of this individual. This person tapped out this prayer into the search engine and Allah guided them to this website. Who knows what that person will do next. Allah knows how helpful this website is to that person. It is Allah that surely Helps and Guides. Let us all just raise our hands right now, as you read this – yes, now – and say “Oh Allah guide this person, help them and shower them with Your Mercy and Forgiveness. Help this person and to overcome their addiction and help them to increase in those actions that build their faith. Fill their heart with eeman (faith) and taqwa (consciousness of Allah) and let them hate their sin and love to worship you. Ameen, thumma Ameen, Ya Rabb”.

So this led me to think about what do we need to do now in Ramadan if we are still using. Maybe we did not get off to the best start. Maybe we had great intentions but we fell, we relapsed, or things are not going as well as expected. Maybe we could not fast this year due to being on some kind of medication and we aren’t feeling the spirit of Ramadan and that is pulling us back. Here are a few steps to help us think about how we can make the most of what is left insha’Allah. Let us not give up so long as we have breath in our lungs.

1) Embrace the regret and then let it go regret

Regret is good. Regret is what lead that person to our page. Regret is what disturbs the soul and makes us think and stop and reflect. Let’s face it, in the passions of our addiction we get little time to stop and think. We use on the guilt to try and push it away before it becomes regret. I invite you to embrace regret. Give it the biggest bear hug you can because that regret is from Allah. The soul who sins yet does not feel sad before Allah is a very lost soul indeed. If Allah places regret in your heart that you are blessed because this is Allah calling you back to Him. So hold it and let it be the motivator for you to change. And then once you take those steps to change – Let it go! Hanging on to it for to long holds us back. Let it fulfill its purpose and then move on.

2) Make a firm intention never to return to sinfulness

hqdefault (1)Scholars say there are three conditions of making ‘tauba’ (returning back to Allah). The first is to sincerely regret what we have done. The second is to give up that action immediately and the third is to make a firm resolve never commit those sins ever again. As addicts, we have been here many times before. Crying to Allah, begging Him to help us change. We have been desperate, we have been humbled – but we have relapsed again and again and each time we feel more guilty and less hopeful that we will ever achieve sobriety. Never let shaitan take us to that state of thinking again! Some say Shaitan has not won when he gets us to sin. He has won when he convinces us that Allah will never forgive us. So we need to make those intentions again, firmly and with confidence that this time will be different. We make a promise to Allah thatsay-bismillah-and-believe-in-allah-1 we WILL do our best to give up on all those things that displease Allah. Western psychologists also state that a firm intention is the catalyst to change. So let us make it today. Renew our intentions. Let us do this for Allah and only for Him and then Allah will facilitate all the rest.

3) Do things differently

The chances are if we have relapsed or are still using in Ramadan then we are not doing enough. Ramadan is a time when the whole Muslim Ummah (world wide community) are trying to give up sins and become better people. We all have our addictions and vices in some ways. For some people its shoe shopping, back biting, working too hard, neglecting family, watching too much TV etc. In some shape or form most Muslims are striving to be better people. But isn’t going to happen if we don’t do things differently to how we normally do the rest of the year. It is all the new things we are doing that help to facilitate that change – going to the mosque, praying more, spending time with pious people, spending less time on social network, reading the Qur’an or listening to Islamic lectures. If we are fasting and all we are doing is abstaining from food and water, without changing our behaviours, then how do we expect to change? The Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, said;

“Perhaps a fasting person will gain nothing but hunger and thirst from fasting.”(Ibn Majah)

Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking it is about changing our whole lifestyles and that is what recovery is all about! The good thing about Ramadan is, that we have company while we do it! The rest of the family and community is also trying to change, to abstain to become better. That should make it easier for us, not forgetting the added bonus that shaitan is locked up so it is just me and you and our desires to handle.

So this is the answer – if we are using in Ramadan – do things differently. Increase in all those good actions that Allah loves. This is nourishment for the soul, cleanses the heart and distracts the mind – the greatest of relapse prevention rolled into one.

4) Seek help from Allah

“Allah help me” said that brother or sister that inspired me to write this post. If we are not asking Allah frequently for His Help, Guidance and Understanding how do we expect to get better. Dua dua dua! Keep asking and never stop. Allah guarantees us that He will answer every dua. He averts calamities that were destined for us on account of our making dua. That time we could so have easily bumped into a drug dealer or someone from the drug using community but Allah averted our paths – why? On account of our prayers! So many times it could have been so easy for us to have relapsed but Allah helped us, sometimes we may have been completely oblivious to what Allah has saved us from.

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“And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” (Qur’an 40:60). So let us ask!

5) Get help from the people

Recovery is not an easy thing to do alone and neither is just being an ‘ordinary’ Joe Bloggs Muslim. This Straight Path is not meant to be walked alone. We need help and support from people too. Ask Allah to guide you to good companions in this life. Our company is vital for living a good spiritual life. The Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, said “You are upon the way of your friends”. Your vibe attracts your tribe and vice versa. We need to seek out those people who are good for us, help us to remember Allah and live good clean and healthy lifestyles. We naturally gravitate to those people that serve our interests. Birds of a feather, flock together.  If we are just interested in getting high, we will naturally flock to those who do too. If we want to make the most out of what is remaining of this month – run to those who are! So if we have been shy of the mosque up until now, we need to get down there. Make an effort, give salam (Islamic greeting) to others and extend our hands to shake them. Confide in someone about the struggle you are having – we do not always need to go into details and reveal our sins but we can seek out people and ask them to knock for us, call us, or meet up for iftah (breaking of the fast). The wolf devours the lone sheep.

So these are just five tips to get us thinking about how we can kick start our belated Ramadan. We must not feel so downtrodden that we give up. It is not too late, so long as the death rattle has not reached the throat, the doors to repentance are wide open we just need to move our feet towards them. May Allah help all of those of us that are struggling with addiction and help us to reap the benefits of what is left of this beautiful month and help us to gain Your Forgiveness and Mercy, Ya Allah. We are in need of Your Help. Ameen”

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Lynne Ali-Northcott (Addiction Counsellor)

The Ramadan Buzz

Once upon a time if someone said the word “buzz” I would automatically think they were talking about getting high. That is what it used to mean to me. As a Muslim addict in recovery from substance addiction, that word no longer has the same meaning. “Buzz” to me means totally different things, as I now live in a way that values the natural high, the spiritual cry, the family tie. And that is just the way I like it. And the biggest high of all in this life is that moment when I feel connected to Allah and I literally feel my heart softening and my skin tingling and those moments come most frequent of all during Ramadan.

So let’s take a moment to compare the fake buzz of addiction to the real buzz of turning to Allah.

Buzz 1 – Squad Goals

Fake Mates So you think you have your crew, the ones that will have your back when the isolated-youthproverbial goes down or hits the fan. You think these childhood mates will be your mates forever and they love you, “I bare love you man”. Wrong! Addiction generally takes us to a solitary place. Not only do we end up losing our families and sober friends but we also end up drinking and using drugs on our own in the end. Addiction takes us to a selfish place, where often those people we thought would stand up for us when we needed them, don’t ever come to our aid. And in those times we try to get clean and overcome our addiction, they pull us back. If they really cared, they would not help us to relapse.

Real Deal “A muslim is the brother to another Muslim” so our Prophet taught us,  loving for eachsquad.goals2 other what they love for their own self. A friendship built on love for the sake of Allah is the strongest. In Ramadan, as we remember that the entire global Muslim community is fasting, squad.goalspraying and making a conscious effort to get closer to Allah it becomes easier for us to also step things up. We are not the only ones who returned back to the mosque, we don’t feel like a stranger when there are so many other new faces around. As we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers (or sisters) we feel as though we belong. Warm smiles, hugs and hands shaking salam bring the soul alive – that’s genuine love. The best squad of all is the family. Ramadan is the perfect time to improve ties and seek forgiveness and make amends with those we love and who deserve our affections the most. 

Buzz 2 – Guilt Free Prayer

The sinners prayer – So we hear often the people tell us that Allah accepts all prayers, no matter how much we have sinned. So why do we feel so guilty in front of Allah. Some of us feel so guilty about all the stuff we have done that we cannot even go to pray to Allah because we feel so ashamed before him. When we do pray, we might think “Why wouldallah.hate.sin Allah want me, why would He answer me, who am I kidding that He will help me this time when I just keep messing up.” Shaitan loves to fill our heads with these thoughts to keep us away from turning back to Allah. Allah does not love sin, but He loves the sinner who repents. We know this, but still we cannot shed this feeling of guilt – often a ‘reason’ to just keep using.

The Ramadan Prayer Ramadan gives us the opportunity for all our previous sins to be forgiven insha’Allah. When we fast all day and make that sacrifice for Allah the feeling of sincertainty that Allah will accept us is almost guaranteed. We no longer feel like we are different to other Muslims. So many of our friends and family, who are not addicts, start talking about seeking forgiveness and having hope in Allah that He will forgive them. We are all seeking the same goal. Suddenly, those guilty feelings don’t feel so strong anymore and where all those tough emotions lurk in dark places within, Allah allows the light of faith to enter. As we touch our foreheads to the ground we feel closer to Allah than we did outside of Ramadan and our hope in Him as our Forgiver just gets higher and higher. 

Buzz 3 – A sense of achievement

Useless Being – Let’s face it, when we are active in our addiction we feel pretty much aimagesnot-totally-useless waste of space, useless, liability to the rest of the world. We feel lack of purpose and when
we do try to do something good it can often go unappreciated, unwanted or just go terribly wrong. Addiction makes us low in self esteem, feel worthless and all this leads to depression and negativity about ourselves. It can be hard to get out of this mindset and this is often what prolongs us in our addiction and prevents us from finding the motivation to pick ourselves up and try again (and again, and again and again). 

A sense of purpose – Ramadan gives us an opportunity to have things to do, people to see. purposeWe begin to busy ourselves with the things that we know will help us to gain that spiritual high. We listen to talks, we go to the mosque, we recite or listen to Quran, we meet family for iftah, we pray. We begin to feel a sense of being back “I’m back!” as our mind clears and we start to feel as though we have found a purpose again – we find Allah again. This adds meaning and depth to the things we do and how we spend our time. As we begin to feel a sense of ‘normality’ again and begin to embrace life and faith we start to feel good about ourselves. A Muslim who realises their purpose in life will have increased self-esteem as they begin to understand that Allah has chosen us for something better. 

Buzz 4 – The physical buzz

Lost in the fog – Being caught up in sin and addiction is a bit like being caught in the fog and just feeling our way around, looking for a way out. We feel lost and confused. Wefog cannot see or think clearly. The arabic word for “Khamr” means something that “befogs” hence why we often feel that way. The phsyical buzz that we seek  out in addiction, is short lived. We are forever chasing the first buzz, the high of the early days when we first started getting smashed. We spend years, some decades, trying to chase that initial high – deceived by the thought that it is possible, yet knowing deep down that it is not. The fake high of our addiction brings only misery with it, what goes up must come down. And we hit the deck hard and manage to smash up all loved ones and everything we own on the way down. The body begins to die, the heart begins to die, the mind begins to die – we die. 

I can see! Ramadan helps brings clear skies. The actions we perform in this Holy Month, Rose-Colouredour efforts to come closer to Allah, help us to start living again. Our bodies begin to detoxify, throwing out all those nasty chemicals that were killing us. We spiritually feed and nurture ourselves so that our hearts are purified and our mental well-being begins to heal. There is no bigger buzz than starting to notice the birds singing again, the colours of nature, the sound of our own laughter. It is like coming back to life with new passion. 

Buzz 5 – Hopefullness

The ‘No hopers’ Addiction takes us to a place of such depression and sadness that we begin to lose hope day by day. Every time we have tried to sort things out, we have fallen.hopeless Each time we fall, the bump on the way down is more and more painful. Hope begins to vanish. We feel doomed in this life and doomed in the Hereafter. We begin to start giving up on everything and everyone, even Allah. 

This is it! Ramadan brings hope back into our lives at a time we thought we had nothing else to live for or even die for! Our spirits are lifted, our faith is increased, our family encourage us. This is our moment! Ramadan teaches us that anything is possible when we have Allah. We begin to think that Paradise is possible for us. We begin to think – maybe I am not so worthless after all and we KNOW yes KNOW that Allah does love us after all. 

The Prophet saws said: “…there are two moments of joy for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord…” [Bukhari]

So let us embrace this Ramadan and if we put in the effort and try our best we will definitely feel the buzz! There are a few moments where we can say we can get a spiritual high, and Ramadan is one of the best of them. So seize the moment and do your best!

Staying Spiritually High After Ramadan

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The guest of Ramadan came to visit, and we welcomed the month with open arms. We embraced all the aspects of this Holy month and on account of our dedication, the Mercy of Allah poured down on us. The guest brought a sense of peace into our homes. We fell in love with our spouses again, we felt closer to our children, we were kind to our parents, but most of all – above all else we loved Allah and His Messenger more than anyone. We truly tasted the sweetness of eeman! The Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, said about this;

“There are three qualities whosoever has them, may taste the sweetness of Faith: firstly one who loves Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) above all else; secondly one who loves someone simply for the sake of Allah, and thirdly, one who loathes return to disbelief, after Allah has rescued him from it, as he would loath being thrown into the Fire.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Now as our guest of Ramadan has left us again for another year, and we hope we will live to see another, we must hate to return back to sinfulness just as we would hate to be thrown into the Fire. It may be now that the month has left us, that something within us is stirring. Shaitan is back to his old tricks, now that his chains have been unlocked and the desires within us are raging. Cravings are setting in, our desires are calling us and the battle has begun. Our thoughts are fighting and our hearts our wavering. Now is the time to restrain ourselves more than ever before. Now is the time for relapse prevention!

faithOne of the companions approached the Prophet, pbuh, seeking some simple yet holistic advice that could keep him going on The Straight Path, this is what he said;

 “Say, ‘I believe in Allah’ and then be steadfast.” (Istiqama)
[Muslim]

‘Istiqama’ – literally means to be steadfast, upright, to go straight, to keep going consistently. A quality every Muslim needs

“And worship your Rubb until there comes unto you the certainty” (i.e., death). (Quran:15:99)

 In the past, when we tried to embrace Islam and then we slipped, we blamed Allah. We would angrily say that we tried and that Allah decreed for us to fall. We blamed others and said we were led astray or that Shaitan caused us to leave the Path of Allah. A major catalyst to change is to take 100% responsibility for our own actions and know that Allah never causes us to slip, but it is  us who abandons His Way and turns our back on Islam.

Verily, Allah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves.” (Quran: 13:11)

Ramadan was the training programme and now we must set our training into action. Weistiqama tasted the sweetness of good deeds so we must let that sweet taste linger in our hearts. Every time the thought of sin enters our minds and we entertain those thoughts, it is as though we are imagining carrying out the sin that it will be sweet and tasty. The cravings increase the longer we allow thoughts of sin to ruminate throughout our minds. However, we know that history tells us once we have tasted the sin it is never sweet, rather it leaves a bitter and disgusting after taste in our hearts. It is only through those things that Allah loves that causes the hearts to be filled with sweetness. So as soon as the thought enters our minds we must stop them dead, counteract the thought, and seek refuge in Allah. Allah describes this process and calls  upon His servants to seek help from Him.

Verily, those who are conscious of Allah, when an evil thought comes to them from Shaitan , they remember (Allah), and (indeed) they then see (aright).(Quran, 7:201)

changeIn Ramadan, we were able to overcome the thoughts. We were more conscious of Allah. Therefore we have found the answer! To be able to overcome sinfulness and desires we need to increase our consciousness of Allah, or ‘Taqwa’ as it is known in Arabic. And the ways to do this is through all those things that Allah loves – fasting, praying, dua, reading Quran and all good deeds. We did all of those things in Ramadan, so we can still implement them throughout the year so that we can create a recovery programme that will keep us going on the Straight Path with istiqama. We proved to ourselves how capable we are, so let’s keep striving forward inshaAllah with the goal of pleasing Allah.

Verily, those who say: `Our Lord is Allah (Alone),’ and then they stand firm, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): ‘Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Jannah which you have been promised! We have been your friends in the life of this world and are (so) in the Hereafter. Therein you shall have all that your inner-selves desire, and therein you shall have all for which you ask. An entertainment from (Allah), the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (41:30-32)

Lynne Ali-Northcott

 

 

The Post Ramadan Blues – A carers thoughts

Dear Fellow Carers,

Assalamu alaikum. Hows it all going after Ramadan? I remember some of the most hardest times for me, as a carer of an addict, was just after Ramadan. Things were really good during the fasting month. I was happy, my loved-one was clean and embracing the dean. But there were many Eids when my loved-one relapsed. And shortly after Ramadan everything went back to ‘normal’. I had the post-Ramadan blues. Depression would set in and I would be very anxious and stressed. But we must remember, our own recovery does not end as soon as our loved-one relapses. If THEY choose to undo all their hard work it does not mean we should too. By keeping up our prayers, duas, reading the Quran, and all the good deeds we did in Ramadan we will stop ourselves from slipping and falling into depression and other self-deprecating behaviours. We must be responsible for keeping our own selves strong, no matter what condition our loved-one is in. After all, it was by doing all those good deeds that lifted our spirits, and even helped our loved-ones to abstain from their addiction or at least cut down on their sins.

During Ramadan we built something beautiful. With every good action that we did for Allah we started preparing our homes in Paradise. Brick by brick we built a palace, tree by tree we planted a garden. May Allah accept all our good deeds. But we must not destroy all of this by undoing all our hard work and returning back to how we were.

Most of us carers of addicts suffer from high anxiety, stress, depression, anger, sadness, to name a few. We go through some really tough times and life is really hard. We are often in turmoil and don’t see clearly. Allah shows us the signs but our judgments are clouded with confusion. In Ramadan, we get a sense of clarity. We even dare to make promises to ourselves to make changes if our loved-ones relapse after Eid. But do we follow them through?

We need to be kind to ourselves. The first step to self caring is to concentrate on our spirituality and our relationship with Allah. We got close to Him in Ramadan and we felt His Response to our prayers. Is not the Lord of Ramadan, not also the Lord of all the other eleven months of the year?

No matter what choices the addict in our lives make, we must always make the right choices for ourselves. Do not let their downfall be our own destruction. Let not the actions of others drag us down. We will return back to Allah, and they will return back to Allah – as individuals! They have their book of deeds and we have ours. Its time we concentrated on our own for a while. If we get sick again, how can we help someone else, if we ourselves, are full of sickness. We cannot help anyone until we first help ourselves.

So lets not abandon all our good deeds. Be not like the one that Allah described so beautifully in the Qur’an;

“And do not be like her who destroys her yarn that she herself made strong” (16:92)