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Why Aren’t We Talking About Addiction In the Muslim Community?

I woke up, startled. Unsure what had waken me up — and what time it was — I took a quick glance at the alarm clock that sat on my nightstand. The numbers glowed in the darkness. I groaned inwardly at seeing it was six in the morning. I rolled over to go back to sleep, and realized the space across from me was empty. My husband wasn’t in bed.

I jolted out of bed and headed towards the living room, filled with trepidation, to look for him. Why hadn’t he come to bed? Or had he come to bed, and already awoken for the day? I doubted the latter, remembering how I’d left him when I went to sleep.

In my head, I begged and pleaded with Allah — please, ya Allah, no.

I rounded the corner from the hallway to the living room. My heart sank. A lump formed in my throat.

There sat my husband, on our living room couch with a dinner plate in front of him. He didn’t see me as I watched him use a razor blade, neatly corralling the white powder into a line on the plate. A rolled up dollar bill sat next to him.

I stood, frozen in shock. A few years ago, I’d heard rumors from friends about him using. I searched his things and came up empty handed, other than texts from his coworkers asking him to get…things…for them. (Which he then deleted and denied that I saw.) During arguments, he did finally admit to using during a rough period in our relationship. And then, alhamdulilah, he got clean — or at least I thought.

But I could no longer deny what was right in front of my face.

I broke the silence and he looked up, his mouth forming a round “O” shape. I tried to remain calm as I approached, snatching the plate away. He begged me not to throw it out and took it back, wresting it from my grip. I listened to his excuses, his pleas that this was the last time, he swears it, but they fell on deaf ears.

“People don’t do drugs because they have great lives and everything is happy,” he said to me, through slurred words and blurry eyes.

I left him in the living room with his shame and his addiction, and I went back to bed, because I didn’t know what else to do.

“People don’t do drugs because they have great lives and everything is happy,” he said to me, through slurred words and blurry eyes.

I tried to go back to sleep, but I was so shaken I couldn’t. So I did the only thing else I could think of — I unrolled my prayer mat, and began to pray.

I prayed for me. I prayed for him. I prayed for healing for anyone else who might be in this situation. The tears streamed down my face, disappearing into the plushness of my prayer mat, absorbing them. I wished my pain could disappear as easily.

His words, blaming me, echoed in my ears. My whole life, I’d been blamed for someone else’s addiction, so be it my parents or his. I thought I’d escaped the cycle of my childhood trauma, and now here I was, reliving it with the man I married.

I think our community does a poor job of talking about addiction. As a community, we’ve started talking more openly about mental health, sexual health, racism, and LGBTQA+ matters. But addiction remains something that I’ve seen discussed very little in Muslim spaces, with the exception of “HARAM, don’t do it.”

But what do we do for those that are doing it? For their families? What support does our community have to offer for them? I feel so ashamed of what happened that I haven’t even told my best friend. How can I seek help when I feel so much shame?

If you’re in this situation, please know that no matter what someone tells you, it’s never your fault.

I asked my husband to get help. He said what every person with an addiction says: that he doesn’t have a problem, he can stop whenever he wants to, and he’ll never do it again.

That’s what every person with an addiction says. And he didn’t even say “inshallah.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 to find treatment options and resources near you.