Tag Archives: Muslim carers of addicts

Fighting The Ten Headed Monster

HydraI stood beneath my husband as he felt larger than life, towering over me like a mythical monster with several heads. Here is what those heads were saying to me;

The loudest head of all shouted out with so much conviction “I won’t do it again” and I thought “You say that all the time but you do”

The ugliest head of all shouted “I hate you, you b@t*# you never helped me, you want to see me fall” and my inner voice cried “I helped you more than I helped myself”.

The most crooked head of all spoke collectively and calmly in a sing song tone that went up and down, “It was only once, I haven’t used for ages” and my knowing self told me “but I found all the evidence to say otherwise”.

The most lost head of all, facing the wrong way with its head back to front, is looking up at the sky, even though its eyes are diseased and it cannot see, and shouting in anger “You Allah! You did this to me. You wrote me off in that Book of Yours! This is my destiny! And then you will throw me in Your Hell Fire. It’s your fault Allah! I hate your religion!” and my frightened voice says “But Allah gave us free will and He gave you so many signs and chances to change”.

The most manipulative head of all, the one with the narrow eyes said through its gritted teeth, “I will take away everything from you, no one else will love you, I will make your life so hard if you leave me, in fact I might even kill myself if you try to go” and my self that trusts Allah says “My Lord will take care of me”. 

The weakest head of all, the one that occasionally gets stomped on by those huge monster feet; the feet that have several brains from its several heads telling them to go, back and forth, left and right, directionless and lost, that weakest head, the one with no ears said “I can’t do it, I can’t change, I see no way out!” and my frustrated self said “The solution is in The Quran and Sunnah – have you not heard me all of these years?”

The hungry, thirsty head, the one drooling with its putrid saliva, the one that causes the heart to beat faster, the one that makes the feet dash from the Straight Path, said “I do not care about you or any one else but me! Give me those drugs and I do not care about anything but those drugs! Give me MORE!” and my sad self said “You never put me first, you love drugs more than you love me.”

The exhausted head said “I’m so tired, I cannot do this any more, I cannot think, I cannot sleep, I cannot rest, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” and my confused self looked on and wondered how he had the strength to carry on and my confused self told my worried self that it might one day have to find a way to explain the death of him in a way that would protect his honour. “No one wants to die a junky, no one wants to enter the grave on drugs and no one wants to be raised in the state of intoxication on the Last Day”.

The blaming head, the one that stands high above the rest, the one with the biggest nose so it cannot see what is below said in a snarling voice “You did this! If you were more supportive, if you were around more, if you did not start that fight, if you didn’t say those words to me, if you were a better wife, if you did not go out that day, if my parents were better parents, if I had not met that guy, if I did not bump into that dealer, if I didn’t have a headache that day, if I didn’t have everyone on my back, if I didn’t have stress, if my family didn’t let me down……. then I would never have used” and my broken self said “If only you would take responsibility for yourself, repent and turn back to Allah so He can forgive you, grant you a good life and enter you into Jannah”

But hang on whats that there hanging down at the bottom. It is hard to see but there it is, peeping through the legs of this multi-headed monster like a shy, anxious, child peering round the legs of its mother…

The truthful head, the one with the sad eyes and the tiny mouth that speaks in a mere whisper. What are you saying little head? What are you trying to say beneath all those frightening voices? We can barely hear you over all that noise, what do you want to say? “It is my fault. I made those choices. I hurt you badly and I hurt myself. I am sorry. I want to change and I need help. Oh Allah help me, only You, My Lord, Allah, can save me now” and I said “Hey little head, here is a sword, take this sword of truth and chop off all those other heads, but only you can do it. No one else can reach those other voices but you, because they are growing out of you.”

And so as the monster continues to rage and try to reach out and grab me, trap me, break me and I realise I can no longer fight this frightening being. I realise that the time has come to run. Now that my hand is emptied of my sword I say “The sword is in your hands now. It is time for you to fight yourself. My battle is over. I know now, I cannot fight your addiction, only YOU can” and now my hands no longer carry the heavy weight, my hands are free to hold something far more special. I embrace freedom, I grab it with my two hands. Freedom from the fight. 


Breaking free


It is never easy for a person to know when they should break ties with a person. As Muslims we are taught to prefer mercy over anger, like our Lord, Allah, The Most Merciful. We are encouraged to not harbour resentments, to give people a chance to change and repent and we emulate the Prophet Muhammad who was gentle and kind to those who sinned. We hear the verse from the Qur’an; “… and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of ) the wombs (kinship)…” (04:01) and we tremble at the thought of Allah being at war with us because when He created the womb he promised it that He  would be at war with all those who broke ties with it.

download…and its a BIG but! The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, also said; “The believer is not stung from (the same) hole twice” (Bukhari). 

When we look at the condition of the average carer of an addict, whether you are the parent, spouse, child or friend, we will see that we have been bitten from the same hole over and over again, very often to the point of what any one with a clear mind would consider oppression. Why could this be a form of oppression? Let’s take a brief look at how addiction affects those around the addict;

  • Financial oppression – Addicts commonly drain the resources of the family,images (1) demanding extra money for drugs, alcohol, gambling or to fund other addictions. Money that would normally be used for the family by way of food, leisure, bills etc is often spent on the addiction and places the family under strain. Partners who may not have the luxury of not working and mothers with young children are often forced to go out to work in order to keep the family with their heads above the financial water. In some cases, addicts become aggressive or violent when demanding money from their family, or may turn to crime to fund their habits which can lead to all kinds of consequences that leads to hardship for the family. 
  • Psychological Oppression – Where to start with this broad subject? In a nutshell, the stress and anxiety that a carer goes through while living with or caring for an addict is immense. The worry starts the moment we open our eyes and through until the sleepless night. The carer of an addict can get to the point where depression kicks in, feelings of self-harm can emerge and a general overwhelming feeling of helplessness and hopelessness dominates our entire world. The carer becomes so preoccupied with the addict in their lives, that everything else takes second priority. This can be especially hard for those with children or other dependents or challenging careers. Without professional help carers of addicts are at risk of suicide or other self-deprecating behaviours.  
  • Physical Oppression – The first thing that often springs to mind when discussing 603593_366501096755341_519949164_nthis section is physical violence. But it is so much more than that. As discussed above being the carer of an addict leads to psychological oppression. Stress, anxiety, depression and so on all have physiological affects on the body. Prolonged stress leads to changes in the brain, causing parts of our mental capacity to shut down as the brain learns to cope. Stress is caused by the release of adrenaline from the brain, into the blood stream so that we can cope with situations of danger and be more alert. The fight or flight syndrome kicks in. But the body is not designed to be in this state continually. As the adrenaline continues to be produced, anxiety increases and the person suffering, in laymen’s terms,  will not know whether they are coming or going. Prolonged stress leads to all kinds of physical symptoms from headaches to more serious stress related diseases like strokes and heart attacks. Therefore, when carers are being placed under continuous hardships and difficulty it is a form of oppression. 
  • Violent Oppression – It is a common assumption that most addicts are violent anddomestic-violence aggressive but when we look at statistics of crimes committed in the United Kingdom or USA we will see that most crimes are committed while a person is under the influence of substances. Many addicts, substance-related or not, have the potential to become violent towards their partners or other family members. One of the main contributors to this is that addicts have little or no control over their emotions and can become angry and aggressive easily. When intoxicated that potential is heightened and inhibitions are lowered, meaning a person is more likely to behave in ways that go against their moral code. Those around the addict are often subjected to aggression and violence. Domestic violence rates are high among families where substances play a part and there is a direct link between addiction and domestic violence. Please refer to our article on this subject here . Carers are more likely to put up with their loved-ones violence, believing it really is not them and its just the alcohol or drugs making them that way. Thus, the carer falls into a cycle whereby they are stung from the same hole over and over again and it can be hard to find a way out of this punishing cycle.

The home office released a revised definition of domestic violence in 2004. This is it;

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

With these definitions in mind, it is clear that very often the kinds of behaviours displayed or acted out by addicts can fall under the banner of domestic violence. Very often carers of addicts stick by their loved-one because they believe it is only the addiction that causes the person to behave in these ways, holding out hope for the day their loved-one decides they want to quit. In many cases, this is true, that without the substances or addiction in their life, the person is much their real selves and does not behave in unacceptable ways. Unfortunately, it can take many years, some times decades, for the addict to finally turn their lives around. Meanwhile, the family or partners suffer a lot of hardship while they wait for that day.

Many cultures within Islamic communities view divorce or separation of relatives as a bad thing. Sometimes other family members do not support a persons decision to lock off from the addict, fearful that the addict will get worse or that Allah will be angry for abandoning them. However, there is also the points to consider that if the addicts behaviour has become oppressive or the people living around them are suffering psychological trauma then it ought to be considered to remove the addict from those peoples lives. Sometimes, carers can become stuck in a cycle by which the unacceptable has become acceptable. Carers compare times when things may have been a lot worse, thus becoming immune to how bad things actually are. If a person was to look in on their lives they would be horrified at how they are living, yet the carer has become so used to living in this hardship that he or she cannot see how bad things have become.

nothing-changes-if-nothing-changesIf you are a carer, you will have probably told yourself so many times that if you were a person looking in, you would be screaming at yourself to change this way of life. So why don’t you do something about this. In Alcoholics Anonymous they say “nothing changes, if nothing changes”. If we continue to live the same old routine, play the same old records, how do we expect a different outcome?

Many carers choose to stay in the relationship and look back on their lives, wondering why they did not leave years ago. Many never envisioned that it would go on for so many years. Some people told them to leave, some told them to “have sabr (patience)” and stick it out. It has been a confusing time over the years. Whether to stay, whether to go. Sometimes carers try the separation route for a while. The addict realises what they have lost, they give up their addiction for a while, they come home and then….. you know how it goes. The cycle continues.

No one can make an addict stop, but the addict. And no one can make a carer decide when enough is enough, except that carer. All that we know is, our destiny is in the Hands of Allah and He Knows what we should do. But there is a bit of legwork involved. Here’s how;

  • Always make duah, every step of the way. Keep asking Allah to guide you to make the right choices and do what will please Him the most. 
  • Make salatul Istikara before you do anything or make any decisions. (prayer for making a decision). This will give you peace of heart that you are placing your trust in Allah and the outcome will be from His guidance. 
  • Seek professional advise. Counselling empowers us to find the tools within us to make changes and break cycles of behaviours. It helps us to realise our own self worth and know that we deserve better and the respect of others. 
  • Keep yourself safe. Your safety is what is most important. To be a slave of Allah we need to be of sound mind. If someone is harming us psychologically or physically, this is oppression and will break us. Islam teaches us to never allow anyone to do this to us. 
  • Remember that Allah is with you and will never abandon you so long as you keep turning back to Him. 


Naltrexone and relapse: Shahnaz’s Story

My name is Shahnaz. I have been married to my husband for 10 years. He has been addicted to heroin and crack for the majority of that time. He recently managed six months of clean time. Prior to that we were on the brink of separation, perhaps even divorce. But Allah is The Best of Planners and I guess the consequence of losing me causedimages (1) him to rethink where his life was heading. He got some help for himself and had a Naltrexone implant put in (an opiate blocker that means he cannot feel the effects of heroin). But the trouble is, the implant only lasts for three months and when the first implant began to wear off he relapsed. He quickly picked himself up again and a week later got a second implant put in. But again, as it began to wear off, he relapsed again. That was a few days ago.

662438_5743525_lzI have been ignoring him since then. I guess if you opened this post in the hope of learning a way to cope with relapse then you are disappointed. I do not know if I will ever be able to cope well when my partner relapses and I need some advise myself. It really knocks me down. I feel so depressed and angry. All kinds of thoughts go through my mind. I get images in my mind like a movie where I see myself punching him and hitting him, sometimes baseball bats appear. I guess when I have these angry feelings and realise Shaitan is getting me more worked up so what I do when this happens is seek refuge in Allah  through duah.

It’s amazing how I could feel in love with him before the relapse. Things are going well, our relationship is good, we communicate and I laugh and feel relaxed around him. But the moment I realise he has used, or I become suspicious that he has, all that love seems to evaporate. I get feelings of hatred towards him. I hear myself saying “I hate you, I hate you” and call him names in my mind. Sometimes, it’s sad to admit that I will text him horrible things and call him names in anger. Again there is Shaitan spurring me on and I fully understand what Allah is telling us in The Qur’an when He says;

“Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will you not then abstain?” (05:91)

I really get that. It’s like love turns to hate in a split second. I despise him sometimes when only an hour before I was in love with him. download (1)

I hate the fact that I change as a person. My aim is that I can still be the real me whether or not my husband us using drugs or not. Why do I allow my mood to change just because someone else is sinning? Why do I feel like slipping in my own worship? I just end up doing my obligatory prayers, I fall into a state of depression, go to bed ultra early because I just want to shut out the world, swear my head off and use really bad language. Then I just end up feeling guilty! Which makes me feel like burying my head under my pillow even more.

Then the worst part of a relapse is the way I am angry with myself. Why am I still here? Why am I sticking by him? Why did I give him another chance? Why oh why oh why?! I begin to really beat myself up. “Stupid me. Stupid!” I begin to hate myself, I think about self-harming, and in the past when he was really bad in his addiction there were moments in time when I could have joined him in his drug use. Shaitan really worked hard on me and
download (2)the more stressed I got the more I would think of taking all that pain away just like my husband does. I would feel so angry and ask myself “why does he get to numb himself out while I live this life and put up with all this stress?” but alhamdulillah my faith in Allah stopped me, but I know of other wives who were not so strong. I feel said when I think of those women who joined their husband in the drug use, or would go out clubbing with him just because they could not fight any more. Alhamdullillah I thank Allah that I never went that far – but Shaitan didn’t half try to get me to.

I’m scared. When there is a period of clean time and things start to go well, I see a glimpse of what life is like without drugs in our world. When relapse happens I get afraid that it will all be gone. Its like seeing your helium balloon disappearing into the sky and you watch it slowly fade away into the distance. It’s like everything in my world becomes all about drugs and addiction again. For a while I got to forget about it all. I let me defenses down. I allowed my heart to soften and the brick walls around it fell away and I allowed my husband in. There was romance. There was good times. But drugs destroy all that. So now I am scared that a little relapse, a ‘one off’ as addicts like to kid themselves into believing, can so easily turn into a full scale rock bottom. And that is scary. what shall i do-

So here I am today. What shall I do? Will this be the way things are every time his implant wears off? Am I willing to keep on with this new cycle? Am I willing to live three months of happiness and then suffer a relapse in between? Is this going to be my new routine? Is this what I must accept? Is this all just a temporary fix to our marriage? Naltrexone – the temporary fix. What comes next? I do not know. I just have to turn to Allah and ask for guidance, just like I did with every other relapse during the last ten years. Every step of the way I need to try and keep my faith firmly fixed inshaAllah and pray to Allah that He shows me the way.