Drugs, Advocacy & Me (by Bijay Pandey of Recovering Nepal)

by Bijay Pandey of Recovering Nepal -2005
I am a drug user from Kathmandu, Nepal. I started using drugs when I was 18. Initially I was just doing marijuana and other local drugs like cough syrup, sleeping tablets etc later on I did heroin and other drugs. I was very attracted to drugs from that age.
Slowly I started having problems in my college, my grades were very poor in my class, started having fights inside the college. My parents then decided that I should go to India for further studies. It was the same case in India but I somehow managed to spend 4 years and finish my engineering degree. Afterwards I came to Nepal and things started getting worse. Nepal is no place for drug users. Here human rights are violated all the time and rights of drug users don’t exist at all. I started having troubles with my using and got arrested several times. The bottom line is I couldn’t survive. The society government started to treat me like a criminal and I decided to quit. I had hard time to quit and several times I failed.
Finally eight years back I was able to give up drugs for good. However after quitting drugs I had nothing to do. My job was gone and nobody wanted to hire me cause I am a drug user. For one year I was like a alien even in my hometown. I had no friends, my family didn’t trust me and I had nowhere to go and nothing to do.
I decided to work with the drug users; since I have been a drug user all my life and I thought I am capable of helping them and which in turn will help myself. I started working in rehabilitation center as a volunteer. I started getting my life together and found happiness in helping people like me.
I kept working with my drug using friends found my internal peace, I am able to hear what is really inside me, and that is unconditional love and help to the people like me this resulted in contentment and joy. Since I understood all I ever had to do was just listen to my heart and do what I love doing. I’m not afraid anymore either, because when something comes up, I don’t run around screaming, “What do I do? What do I do?” but, instead, I just turn to my friends who were there for me and I was there for them.
From my previous explanation one can assume the situation of drug users is getting worse day by day. I along with some of my drug using friends decided to do something about it. We were all doing better comparing to those old days however thousands and thousands of other were suffering. They were ignored by the government, society and community. They never received a human value and living a life of drug user is like living a life of a parasite. Something must be done to upgrade their life style and living conditions. So we formed a loose network called Recovering Nepal. We did advocacy for the drug users and people living with HIV and AIDS. We held media campaigns and awareness programs. Finally small changes and glimmer of hopes beginning to appear. People started listening to us, newspapers and other electronic media started talking about us and most of all we all drug users are united to fight for the right of drug user.
We have not accomplished much but we are hoping that someday we will be there. Now we have a formal network of drug users in which more than one thousand drug users are affiliated. The government had finally acknowledged our existence and invited us in a Steering Committee of Harm Reduction, which is going to be implemented in couple of months. We are voicing for the policy change of drug user so that we will not be regarded as criminal or antisocial.
What we believe is that “every drug user has right to live and enjoy life and he or she should never be punished for using drugs”.

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