A Letter from Copenhagen: When dogs are called Rumi and drugs are called Ice

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By Dr Fozia Kamram Cheema

Dr. Fozia Cheema is a pain management physiotherapist at Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen Denmark.

A few weeks back I was talking to my brother in Pakistan and he told me “Pakistan ke young generation main ice ka istamal bohat barh gaya hay” (The usage of Ice has increased in Pakistani youth) and I was like, ok” mousam bhe to bohat change ho gaiy hain, opar sah farmi khanay,golay bana kar khatay hian ya cold drinks main dal kar petay hain“ (Climate is changed a lot and consuming of too much farm-produced food, how they take it? As slush ice or by putting in cold drinks)

He was surprised and kind of shocked that I did not know about Ice.

As some of you know, I live in Denmark, a country where selling and using drugs are legal. You can buy hash cakes and hash coffee in restaurants. Danish people are also famous for consuming alcohol. There were times in Denmark when Danes were allowed to drink beer at their work. There is also a famous tourist attraction, Christiania, in Copenhagen, a hippie town where cannabis and other drugs are sold massively, and police do not interrupt them very often. It is more like a silent agreement between police and hippies. I think police want it to be in a particular place and not on streets, colleges, and everywhere else. The same Danes though have strict punishment rules, if you drive either drunk or high.

And why I am telling this because in the past 11 years I am living in Denmark and I have heard all kinds of drug-related stories, their effects, and their side effects. I met people who take drugs regularly and are also living a normal life. I met patients in drug rehab centers. I listened to the stories of the parents, who lost their children to drugs. I have seen fresh and torn posters of the missing girls, who took too many drugs and mysteries of their disappearance never being solved. I saw families ruined due to drugs. I also witnessed Muslims who say Bismillah before every meal, check every E number before consuming anything, do not even eat French fries and fish burgers from Macdonald and yet drink alcohol and smock hash.

But even though I was living in a hub of legal and illegal drugs, Ice still was a new word for me.

What do you do, when you don’t know about something? you google it.

After a month of research and talking to my fellow colleagues about ice, I was unable to sleep for many nights.

Nasha wo bhe itna khatarnak nasha aur us kah liay itnay bayzarar khobsurat massom nam.(such an innocent and harmless name for a life-ruining, soul-sucking drug)

I was amazed by the creativity of people who work with cognition. They named the words most dangerous substance/drug ice. A tiny teeny harmless word…. ice, a frozen form of water and water, the unit of life. So let’s just call it ice, and call it so many times, until,” let’s take the ice “becomes like let’s take the tea”. And when parents will hear their children talking about “icing”, many ignorant like me will be happy, that our children are thinking about their water intake.

But unfortunately, ice has nothing to do with water or any of its qualities. It is the straight opposite of water, as water generates life and Ice takes it back.

Ice is the nickname of a highly dangerous, addictive, life-ruining stimulant drug, crystal methamphetamine. It is a dangerous and advanced form of speed (another nickname for the same drug). It speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and body. it’s sometimes called glass, shard, crystal meth, or Shabo. It is produced in chemical labs and is the purest and most dangerous form of methamphetamine available.

It is generally smoked, and those who smoke can feel the effect immediately. It can also like heroine be injected with an immediate effect after 15 to 30 seconds. Some people swallow the ice, with effect after 15 to 20 minutes. Whatever method you use, its effect lasts for 12 hours. There is no safe limit to taking this drug. It is basically a brain-destructing highly addictive chemical and once you start using it, you need it for your working, your studying, talking to other people, and finally to get through the day.

My next passage is for parents, as your children will never tell you that they are taking methamphetamine.

You must look for the following signs.

Your shy child will be suddenly extra confident, your daughter or son who always was acting so lazy that after eating their food, they left their plates on the tables, overnight will be full of energy. If your child suddenly starts itching and scratching, starts grinding teeth or starts drinking 20 glass of water, has mood swings, suddenly is awake at night, doesn’t want to eat food, and maybe has big eyeballs (dilated pupils), there might be a problem going on.

In short,  when your child starts acting weird other than teenage weirdness, you need to be on the watch.

If your child is taking Methamphetamine for more than months or a year, you will notice extreme weight loss, trouble concentrating, often flu and cold symptoms, anxiety, and violence, problems at school or problems with families and friends, and breathlessness without doing much of physical activity.

What happens in the body after taking methamphetamine? It dramatically increases the level of hormone dopamine (pleasure hormone) by up to 1000 times the normal level, much more than any other pleasure-seeking activity or drug. The feeling you get when you have lots of dopamine in your blood is a feeling of extreme happiness and to maintain that level of pleasure, you keep on taking the drug.

And why it’s dangerous? People who use Methamphetamine start to feel less and less enjoyment in their lives, and they have to take more and more the drug to be happy, or just not get depressive or sad because dopamine level rise is not permanent. And every time to reach the same dopamine level, they need more and more drugs and finally, they don’t get any happiness or pleasure from the drug, they just need it, otherwise, they will face withdrawal symptoms.

What happens when you withdraw from drugs? Extreme craving for it, irritation and confusion, aches and pains, restless sleep and nightmares, anxiety, depression, irritability, extreme hunger, excessive tiredness, and paranoia.

And those who take drugs will spend most of the time seeking the drug, using the drug, and recovering from it. It takes 10 to 14 days for our body to detox from methamphetamine. Chronic/permanent withdrawal takes a year and a half, and that’s what makes it very difficult to withdraw from it, as a year and a half is a really long time with anxiety or flat feeling and constant craving for the drug.

I can write a whole thesis about how dangerous the drug is, but I want to share a very strange thing that happened while I was researching methamphetamine. The first three ayahs of surah AL-Adiyat kept on flashing in my mind continuously. Nonstop day and night, while I was eating, before sleeping, middle at night, first thing in the morning and during work…A nonstop background echo of first three ayahs of surah AL-Adiyat.

These ayahs kept on flashing in the back of my mind so many times, that I had to search the whole surah and read its translation to see if there was a sign from Allah, as it was difficult to concentrate on anything else. I then read the whole surah.

By those, that run snorting .1
Then bring out spark of fire from stones by striking their hoops .2
Then devastate at morning .3
Then at time, they raise clouds of dust. .4
Then penetrate into the center of the forces of enemy .5
Undoubtedly, man is greatly unthankful to his Lord. .6
And undoubtedly, he is himself a witness over it. .7
And undoubtedly, he is strong in the love of wealth. .8
Does he not know when those that are in graves shall he raised? .9
And that which is in the breasts shall be opened? .10
Undoubtedly, their Lord and that day is fully aware of them. .11

 

After listening and reading translation both in Urdu and English many times, I was as blank as before. There was nothing in this surah about any form for consuming any drug or any other thing happening in my present life, then why from dusk till dawn it was there, in my mind, trying to tell me something.

I forgot about methamphetamine and ice. All I wanted to know was, why this particular surah has mesmerized me so much, a surah which starts with horses and then suddenly tells how ungrateful we human being are, and we know we are ungrateful, but we are busy collecting benefits of Dunya (world), and how Allah knows what’s going on in our hearts.

Our children have GPS, but they don’t have directions. They are not going forward; they are going farther. And it is us who are pushing them

I am neither an Islamic scholar, nor am I an expert in Quran, but as I was listening and reading surah, again and again, it occurred to me that there is something relatable. Mention of negligence, mention of an enemy, whom we are first aware of when it is right on our heads, about to destroy us.

An enemy who strikes us, when there is no way to escape and it is already too late. There is in fact painted a picture in the surah, first swearing on an enemy which is right on our doors, and why the enemy is on our doors because we are blindfolded by our ungratefulness and are busy in earning money, unaware of the fact, that enemy is ready to stab us. And then a beautiful contrast that even though we are blindfolded in the love of wealth, we ourselves are witness of it in this world and on the day of judgment, Allah the almighty will be well informed of all of it.

I don’t know about others, but for me, the meaning of surah and why it was showing up in my mind, again and again, became crystal clear.

We have turned ourselves and our children’s lives into useless battlefields. We are so busy and so in love with material gains, proudly providing luxuries to our children, that we have no time left to give to them. We are trying to raise successful individuals, and we have forgotten that our actual duty is to raise human beings and not individuals. And at the same time, our duty is to raise generations and not only one child. Can we look at our son and daughter and proudly say, he or she is ready to raise our next generations. if we don’t have time to teach our child the values necessary and things that matters, how can he or she be passing the light on? A child who is raised by blindfolded parents can never learn the meaning or the purpose of light. A child who is guided in the dark to conquer the darkness will never ever be able to seek the light, reflect the light and pass the on the light. As we are busy teaching them to conquer this world, the hidden enemy is cutting their branches, poisoning their roots, and stealing their fruits. We are raising them blindly and the enemy is turning them blind. Our children are so confused that they don’t know when to continue the journey and when to stop and what even is the purpose of the journey.

They have GPS, but they don’t have directions. They are not going forward; they are going farther. And it is us who are pushing them, in meaningless directions, away from their roots and close to destruction. Our children know they must achieve something, but they don’t know what to achieve when to achieve or will it be an achievement in the long run. Our duty was to let them live an honest, passionate life and contribute positively to fellow human beings. Instead, we have created a battlefield for them, without teaching them about the enemy, the enemy who sometimes first is recognized when it’s in their veins when it is in their lungs, and finally when it took over their brains, enemy which is often recognized after it is too late.

I am agreed that this world is imtihan gah (Examination hall), but only for preparations. If we as parents push our children to fight the actual battle here, they will only fight the unnecessary fights, with unseen enemies, where defeat is the only result possible. Let them prepare for the actual, for the one which actually matters. Let them prepare for akhirah (the day of judgment) and they will be automatically protected from the seen and the unseen dangers.

Central Desk
Central News Desk.

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