A rehabilitated drug addict tells his story

first_img“I fought my demons and I am winning” – Sheik ShamshudeenBy Lakhram BhagiratNot everyone can say they turned their worst period into an experience to teach others, to mend broken souls and to create beautiful memories, but for Sheik Shamshudeen, he can! He can painfully tell you what it is like to be homeless, to find sustenance in the refuse of others but he can also tell you how to conquer your demons and build a beautiful family. He can make you dream so big that it is hard to contain the smile that envelops your face while he speaks about finding true love during a period when he though love no longer existed for him.Sheik is now 49 years old and he is now beginning a journey, which many of usSheik out Kettling for the Salvation Armybegin at a much younger age. “I feel now is the right time for me to take this step and I am more grounded now, so I can take care of my responsibilities the way I should do,” he notes while smiling at the thought of going home to his almost one-year-old son.Sheik’s life was not always a bed of roses; rather it is what some might consider a bed of thorns. At the young age of nine, Sheik had his first draw of marijuana and his world changed forever. He explains that he remembers his first drag like it was yesterday and regrets every other drag he took after that.He was born into a traditional family from Cane Grove in Mahaica, on the East Coast of Demerara, and Sheik says he was “unruly” from a young age. The level of disrespect he exuded was incomparable. A young Sheik had no respect for his elders and would hang with the elder boys in the village, often doing things way beyond his comprehension skills. He tells that it was the same group of boys that would lead him to his first drag, followed by his first sniff and subsequent homelessness.“I used to fit in with the rude boys and that is where they introduced it (marijuana) to me. I see them smoking and I decide that I should try it too and I decided and I was between 9-10 years when I took my first draw of marijuana,” he remembers.However, those are the memories that still cause Sheik some deal of pain and resentment for his choices. He explains that he became addicted to marijuana and his life spiralled out of control. In order to regain some semblance, he moved awaySheik with his wife, Nadira and their son, Samuelto St Nevis where he worked and tried putting the broken pieces together, but all that effort went down the drain when he returned for a brief vacation in 1989.It was while back home on vacation, Sheik met up with some old friends and one of them would lead him to the local drug yard where he was introduced to the “big boy” drug – cocaine. He recalls when he took his first sniff it was as if he was floating through and everything fell into place. He would later spend most of his few weeks’ vacation time holed up in the drug yard getting high, ignoring the reality of the world. Nevertheless, he returned to St Nevis where he unsuccessfully tried to procure cocaine and he returned home about one year later in 1990, where his first stop was the drug yard.It took less than a year for Sheik to end up friendless, family-less, penniless, jobless and most devastatingly, homeless. He wandered the streets with just the clothes on his back, eating from garbage bins, begging so that he could get his next fix, worked underpaying odd jobs to satisfy his cocaine craving and slept on the cardboard lined pavements.“I lost everything I had. I ended up living in the streets wandering aimlessly and doing whatever it took for me to get that cocaine because I needed it,” Sheik said.“I have been living on the streets in 1991 to November 9, 2009. That is when I surrendered my life, recognising that drugs was destroying me. I was given the opportunity through the Salvation Army Drug Rehabilitation Centre,” he adds.He sees his addiction as the disease that made him so selfish that he did not realise his entire world had been destroyed and he was slowly sinking. It was at that point when Sheik decided to turn a new chapter, since the current one was overused. He describes the rehabilitation process as awesome but also challenging since he had to confront his demons without the help of his former best friend – cocaine.He spent six months at the Salvation Army’s in-house drug rehabilitation centre where his body was forced to adjust to the comforts of having a regular bath, sleeping in a bed, proper hygiene and most importantly, living without cocaine.“I took all the teaching and I do apply them in my daily life. After completing the six months in-house treatment, I didn’t had anywhere to go and they see it fit to keep me in the half-way house and subsequently they do some evaluation with me and they see that I am physically fit and they employed me to work right in the realms of the rehabilitation centre,” Sheik proudly boasts.He has been clean for the past eight years and is thankful for the assistance he gets in maintaining his sobriety. These days Sheik is not only thankful for his sobriety, but he is also grateful for the love he receives from his wife, Nadira and his infant son, Samuel.“I am very excited to say that this child came through prayer because in my active days I used to see people hugging their families and going to church and I was jealous,” he said.“I used to see this young lady and I never said a word to her and one day after completing a hard day work from the office, I went to the gate. I was refreshing my mind and I see this very young lady pass and I waved and that is where it started,” Sheik fondly remembers.He explains that he met Nadira in 2012 and they maintained a friendship, which over time developed into unconditional love, and they eventually tied the knot in April of 2014 and Samuel was conceived on December 23, 2016.For Sheik, Samuel is his Christmas baby and the reason for him to stay sober. He wants nothing but the best for his son and now spends his time working with the Salvation Army as an Office Assistant and since it is the festive season, he is out Kettling.When asked what advice he has for the general population, Sheik says, “Push as hard as you can. Say no to drugs and yes to a better future. Use me as an example and make yourself better, the drugs and the high is not worth missing your life. I have fought my demons and I am winning, you do the same.”last_img