Personal Stories of Drug Addiction and Public Perception: A Photo Stories Series

MV+ News Desk | September 19, 2022

“I have severe anxiety and depression, and taking these drugs calmed me,” says Ali (not real name), who started smoking marijuana at 28-years-old. 

After Ali got married to his wife, he moved to her island. Her brothers, who were already addicts, introduced him to Heroin.

“Whenever I had an off day from the resort, I would head over to my wife’s island, and her brother gave me heroine. I tried it. I have severe anxiety and depression. Whenever I took drugs, it calmed me.”

After consuming heroine, he went back to the resort but started having withdrawal symptoms. Ali says, “I didn’t know what was happening to me. I was shivering nonstop. Then I realized it was because I was addicted to the drugs. They told me that it would take 2 weeks to recover.” 

“But I knew that I couldn’t stay sick like this. I needed to get to work and earn money. So, I started consuming more drugs with the purpose of going back to my old routine. To look calmer. But the resort management found out about everything and I got fired from work.”

After he got fired, he started having problems with his wife. He was severely depressed and things just kept getting worse.

“I got another job as a gardener at a resort. I got arrested for consuming Marujuana. After I was reprimanded for seven days, I lost my job again.”

At that time, he had a kid. “I tried really hard to stop taking drugs, but I didn’t get help from anyone. I tried to get better by myself since no one was helping me.” So, he started taking medication, but had an allergic reaction. 

“I begged my wife for help, too. I asked for her support. I wanted to get help. I asked her for support so many times. But she only wanted to get divorced.”

Ali and his mother traveled to India for her cancer treatment. He didn’t take any drugs for eight months.

He says that his wife contacted him to mend their relationship. 

“During that time, my wife wanted to get back together. I was so happy. I was assured that I would be able to see my kid. But after I came back from India, my wife told me that she doesn’t want to marry me anymore. And because of that, I was lonely and depressed.” 

“I haven’t been able to stop. Everywhere I go, these drugs are available. I can never escape them.”

Public perception of addiction needs to change in the Maldives. Addiction is born out of several socio-economic factors that cannot be distilled down to just morality. It is only after we treat addiction as a health crisis rather than a moral failing, we can change systematic issues hindering the treatment of addiction.