Emerging stronger: Furqan’s path from drug addiction to a reconstructed life

5 September 2023, Islamabad - “I have battled addiction for a grueling 20 years,” Furqan said, peering out from behind a pair of sunglasses. 

Sitting at Aas Trust, a facility in Karachi, Pakistan that provides treatment for people using drugs, Furqan is open about what led him to start using.  

His substance abuse, he revealed, stemmed from keeping the ‘wrong’ company and a lack of attention from his family, especially after the death of his parents. 

“I found myself spiraling downwards. With no one to care for me, my friends introduced me to drugs, and I fell into the clutches of addiction," Furqan said.   

He shakes his head. “The extent of the damage caused by my addiction is beyond words. Yet, there came a point when I could no longer continue on that destructive path. I knew I needed help.” 

Eventually, Furqan found Aas Trust. The civil society organization provides treatment, rehabilitation, and aftercare for men and children suffering from alcohol or substance addiction. Since 2006, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has worked with Aas Trust to build the capacity of their staff on drug treatment and prevention.  

Funded by the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Office (INL) of the US Embassy in Pakistan, UNODC is building the capacity of drug treatment and prevention professionals in Pakistan on the Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) and Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC). 

The curriculums relate to the UNODC-World Health Organization “International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders”, a guide which identifies major components and features of effective systems for the treatment of drug use disorders. They describe treatment modalities and interventions to match the needs of people at different stages and severities of drug use disorders.  

Thanks to Aas and his own determination, Furqan successfully recovered from his addiction. He found a new job and slowly began to rebuild his life. 

“Today, I gratefully celebrate 6 years of recovery,” he boasted joyfully. “I am happily married and wholeheartedly dedicated to my work. I am truly living a remarkable life.” 

Furqan then turned serious, saying he had a message for people who use drugs, particularly youth. “Addiction is not a moral failing – it is a disease, and it can be overcome. 

Society often stigmatizes and discriminates against drug addicts,” he continued, “perpetuating the belief that recovery is impossible. I want to assure them that help is available. They can reach out to their families, share their struggles, and express their desire for treatment.”