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Our group of friends have overcome the drug problems.

Date : 27-May-2019 18:01 pm

Location : Sagaing, Myanmar

Our group of friends has become victims of drug for many years. I started to use Heroin, well-known as No. 4, as my friends suggested me to do. Later, I become addicted and couldn't stand without using drugs.

Being a drug user, I understood how bitter the life of a drug user was. Now, I myself used to experience stigmatization by the community where I am living together, including even my family members. They considered us as criminals and they perceived that we were someone who not hesitant to commit crime to get Drugs. Some of my friends were frequently accused of stealing whenever the precious things around them were lost. Moreover, some business owners didn't allow us to sit in their tea shops.

Such kinds of stigma, discrimination and social marginalization pushed drug users, like us far away from the society where we live in. I struggled with severe depression and I spent most of my time, loitering on the road and earning money for the Drugs. Sometimes, I stole valuable things from my home and sold them to relieve my craving. My mother was crying every day for me and I could hardly find a smile on my parents' faces. But fortunately, in one day, I met with a peer educator who used to be drug user and currently taking MMT. With warmly support of him, I visited Shwe Zayar CBO KPSC (Key Population Service Center) first time. The first thing that made me feel surprised was that almost all staffs, apart from Peer Educators, were women.

Generally, I thought women seemed to be afraid of dealing with Drug Users but they never expressed any negative attitude. They explained us wholeheartedly about adverse consequences of drug uses, infections that can be transmitted through unsterile needle sharing, harm reduction information and Opiate substitution therapy. Respecting our identity and decision also create enabling environment for us and we spent most of our time in taking services in Shwe Zayar KPSC and the office became our second home.

Over time, what I realized gradually was that Shwe Zayar was mainly organized by Female PLWHAs. Although they themselves were vulnerable people, they were striving to support other vulnerable people as much as they could. That was the things made me feel inspired. With their guidance, I took Methadone maintenance therapy and overcame my drug addiction problems.  I also was working as volunteer in serving other drug users for about 6 months and in return, Shwe Zayar Organization sent me to attend SHG forming training.

With the knowledge what I had learnt, I was committed to organize peer SHG as Shwe Zayar did in the past time, and I provided peer navigation to all drug users who considered themselves as dumb people. We successfully established “A Lin Tan” SHG with 9 PEER Drug Users, at the end of October, 2017.

In conclusion, I sincerely appreciate Shwe Zayar Organization for their tireless efforts that actually pushed me to over our compulsive drug seeking behaviors as well as enabled us to stand on our foots without relying on others. 

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