Addiction is the almighty equalizer. It doesn't matter where you come from, what your economic status is, or what you do for work. It can literally strike down anyone, I know because I was once a slave to my own addictions. That's why I love stories of reclamation and recovery, it shows the true strength of the human spirit.
29-year-old Pham Duc Duy should not be alive today. He came from a working class family from Ha Long City, Vietnam. The spoiled only child of hardworking parents, Duc Duy admits that he took everything for granted and never worked hard in school. His world started to crumble in tenth grade when he became addicted to heroine. This addiction led him to drop out of school, and start hanging around with gang members. He then became addicted to smoking crack.
His crack addiction led to extreme bouts of paranoia, and he would often go days without eating or sleeping. Duc Duy has no idea how much money he spent on drugs during this period of his life, but it was quite a lot.
"I would borrow money from relative and neighbors to finance my drug habits, and when I got older I would pawn valuables, like my own motorcycle and things I stole from my parents."
His parents owned a cafe and had to work day and night, seven days a week just to continually bail out their son from his financial incompetence. "Raising a drug addict son meant that my parents couldn't afford to even take a single day off," said Duc Duy.
He fully admits that he was more than happy to "burn through" all of the money his parents earned through their blood, sweat and tears.
When the money finally ran out, Duc Duy's thoughts turned to potential robbery or becoming a pickpocket in order to finance his expensive habit. Luckily it never came down to that, his own inner demons being held at bay for the first time in a long time.
"People may think addicts are dead inside and turn into cold-blooded killers when they crave drugs. But in reality, drug addicts, like I once was, are miserable. This is because they can see no way out but only the sad reality that their life is a dead end."
His parents tried everything to help him break out of the vicious cycle of addiction, they even had him married. A child was born out of the union, yet even with those positives, Duc Duy continued down his path of self-destruction, leading his wife to take their child and move back in with her parents.
By the time he finally hit rock bottom, Duc Duy was a mess. His skin was yellow and jaundiced, his eyes had sunken into his head and he was a frail wisp of his former self, death was knocking on his door. He had hepatitis B and C, and he suffered from severe insomnia; it was then that he discovered the meditative practice that would end up saving his life.
His friend, another former addict, gave him a copy of Zhuan Falun, a book about the practices surrounding Falun Gong. It teaches people that true happiness comes from "thinking of others and following the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance." It changed not only Duc Doy's life, but that of his famiy's as well.
He got better, and started being a better person; his health even returned to where he could now help his parents with physically demanding tasks, something that had been impossible before. His wife even took him back, bringing their child back into the picture as well.
"As a practitioner of Falun Gong, I do my best to apply the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance whenever I come across conflicts. This has created harmony in my family and a stable environment for my daughter," said Duc Doy.
Share this story if you know someone battling with addiction. They need to know they are not alone and that life can get better.