Battling addiction among trained workers, professionals

KUALA LUMPUR: A medical doctor addicted to drugs? As rare as it may sound, it happens and one doctor here is now battling his addiction all because job-related stress got him hooked in the first place.

It all started nine years ago when Dr S, 39, a medical graduate from Russia, was doing his houseman training in a government hospital in Johor Bahru.

Long work shifts, sometimes up to 48 hours without proper rest, led the Seremban-born doctor to try methamphetamine as a means to be more energetic for long hours.

“At that time, I was stressed, and after some time, I was introduced to methamphetamine. It was the booster needed for long working hours. I only wanted energy, that’s all.

“In my mind then, I thought I will be spared addiction.

“I thought as a doctor, I’ll be able to keep the urges under control, but I was wrong.

“The drug got a hold of me and made me a hardcore addict,” he told Bernama when met at Rumah Pengasih here recently.

Six years ago, S realised he was addicted, and wanting a fresh start in life, voluntarily checked into Rumah Pengasih.

“In 2017, I left Pengasih because my father was ill. When I came out, it was difficult for me to adjust.

“After six months, I was depressed. I suffered insults from relatives. I relapsed and started taking drugs again.

“Two months ago, I returned to the Rumah Pengasih because I realised I needed help and a support system.

“I am still undergoing treatment and observation here to ensure I don’t relapse again.”

S said methamphetamines often made him suffer angry outbursts and sudden mood changes. It was so bad that he had to call off his wedding just 20 days before it was to take place.

Pengasih president Ramli Abd Samad said the perception that drug addicts consist of only school dropouts and those from unfavourable social backgrounds is wrong. He said there are also many who are highly educated and professionally trained.

“Those days, drugs were used for recreational purposes, to enjoy and be high at nightclubs.

“But now, many people are using it for work. They want to boost their confidence while giving presentations and so on.

“This is because modern drugs have the ability to boost concentration and energy.”

He added that anti-drug campaigns, which supposedly deter people from experimenting with drugs, are outdated and no more relevant to the current generation.

He said Malaysia currently does not even have a special helpline to offer support and advice for those trying to kick their addiction.

“For social problems, such as depression and abuse, there are dedicated helplines, but for drug addicts, there is no such support system.

“They (drug abusers) want to change but there is no strong support from family or society.

“The situation is getting complicated and drug users now are increasingly dangerous and violent. It is time for the country’s support system to help drug addicts in a more serious manner,” he said.