Road to Recovery

Narconon staff and students walking outside

In August 2021, I finally made the decision to get clean and kick my addiction to drugs and alcohol, and the only way was to go to rehab. I needed professional help because I had tried to quit so many times before, and it didn’t work. I started searching the internet for rehab centers in Turkey. I came across many, but only one got my attention. The fact that the Narconon program didn’t require medication and because my main problem was Xanax, it seemed like the right place for me.

One week later, I got on the plane and traveled from Lebanon to Turkey to check-in. That was it. I had to save myself before I ended up in prison or dead. There was no other way, as my addiction was out of control.

In the beginning, it was strange being in rehab in a different country, but I needed to be away from my country and from the people around me. When I first arrived, I was still high from the pills I had taken on the flight. I was picked up from the airport and taken to the center, where we filled out the paperwork, and then they showed me to my room. It was a very friendly environment, but it was all new to me.

I went straight to bed that day. I felt like I was away from all my problems without having my phone. I finally did it. I finally asked for help, and I was actually doing it. I liked the fact that I was in a place where I didn’t have to hide who I was, which was an addict. Being an addict was embarrassing, and I tried to hide it from the world for the longest time, but it always showed. I lived a big lie, and it became too big for me to see anything else. I was in a bubble filled with lies, alcohol and pills. I used to look in the mirror and see a normal guy, but I definitely wasn’t normal. I thought everybody did drugs and drank alcohol. I thought the whole world was on Xanax. That lie was my reality, I lived it, and I certainly believed it. I had all the indicators—black under the eyes, body shaking, looking down at the floor when talking to people, a lack of focus and a lack of ability to confront. I didn’t love myself, so I for sure I didn’t love anybody else.

While in Withdrawal, the Xanax was coming out of my system. I had a hard time sleeping, and my body felt like it was in shock. All the students used to come and check on me, take me for a walk, and try to make me laugh. I had two staff members watching and helping me the whole time. I was getting a lot of Narconon program services throughout the day, which made my withdrawal a lot easier.

After ten days, the withdrawal symptoms eased up. I started to sleep better, I started to eat three times a day, and I started smiling and talking with the people around me. They would call me to the main office and ask me how I was doing, which I liked a lot. No one was judging me and everybody wanted to help.

Narconon students in Detox

After Withdrawal, I started the New Life Detoxification, where I would take vitamins and I would run for 30 minutes and then spend a few hours alternating sweating inside the sauna and cooling off outside. I felt like the New Life Detoxification got the toxins out of my body, it took my back pain away, it took my nightmares away, and it changed my physical and mental everything. It was hard doing the sauna in the beginning, but I saw all the other students doing it, so I wanted to do it too.

The New Life Detoxification In-Charge helped me when I had a hard time, and he believed in me. Everyone was encouraging me to keep going, and they were telling me that it would get easier in time.

I kept pushing forward every day until I actually finished the New Life Detoxification a month later. It was great after I finished. I felt so much better. Again, my back pain went away. I’m talking about this again because for years I believed that I would have that pain forever. I was able to sleep well every night, and I was enjoying the food so much that it was like I had never eaten food before. It was as if I was tasting food for the first time. I never knew those kinds of changes to the body and the mind were possible.

Completing the New Life Detoxification was another accomplishment that I did on my own without taking any shortcuts. Every time I finished a step, it felt so good because I was taking care of my addiction problem, no more feeling sad because I had no control over myself.

After the New Life Detoxification, I felt clean and sober. I kept thinking that I was ready to go back to my life and start it with a clean mind and body, but that wasn’t the case. My stay at Narconon was a learning experience every day. The New Life Detoxification cleaned my body, and now it was time to clean my mind from the past memories that were stuck there.

I carried so much hate and so much trauma for years, and I took these thoughts with me everywhere. In the beginning, I had a hard time being in present time, which is the main goal for the Objective drills. I used to always say that I live in the present, but I wasn’t at all.

I remember when one of the staff was going over the coursework with my twin and me. (A twin is another person doing the Narconon program with you.) We were at the office, and I was playing with my hair and spaced out, not paying attention to what he was saying, when another staff member saw me and asked me what I was thinking about. I told her that I didn’t need anyone to go over the book with me and that’s why I wasn’t paying attention. She said, “We will teach you to be in present time always, and when you leave from here, you will lead a clean and successful life.” I didn’t know what she meant then, but I took it to heart.

I couldn’t stay still, and I couldn’t focus on what I was doing or the things around me. I had so many things going on in my head. I was dwelling on my past a lot, living in the past. I started working hard with my twin; we put in many hours for weeks and weeks, running the Objective exercises on each other. I was supporting him, and he was supporting me. When I was weak and wanted to quit, he had my back and vice versa. While doing the drills, I got frustrated a lot, I lost my temper so many times, and my twin was always there pushing me and helping me to finish each step.

A huge help was that many of the staff members were recovered addicts who had done the Narconon program. Because of that, they understood me when I was having a hard time, and I would see that it was possible to finish the program even though it felt impossible and that it would take forever.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

I was pushing hard, but I was having a hard time. One day, when I finished one of the exercises, I remember feeling that I had become a different person. That’s when the change happened. Since that moment, I have lived in present time. I stopped living in the past, and I stopped worrying about the future. For the first time ever, I lived by the quote from Bill Keane, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

I was and still am focused on what’s going on around me, I didn’t forget my past and what happened to me, but I don’t dwell on it anymore, and it doesn’t affect me.

When I passed my Objectives course, I was so happy that my hand was shaking during my graduation speech. It had been a long time since I actually finished something all by myself and without taking any shortcuts. I worked hard, put in so many hours running the Objectives, and I passed them all myself.

My twin and I were different people than when we first started. I was able to see him change, and I saw myself change as well. I believe that the Objectives are what changed me, and that was when I changed from a subjective mind to an objective mind. I became aware of what was around me, and I regained so many abilities that I had lost because of the years of addiction. In the beginning, I thought they weren’t important, but I saw the difference after each Objective exercise and a huge difference after finishing all of them.

At that point, I thought I was done with the Narconon program, but that wasn’t the case. Next, I started on the Life Skills courses. I completed the Ups and Down course, where I learned how to analyze the people around me. I know now how to choose the people that I have around me. I analyzed the people I used to be around, and I realized that I surrounded myself with people just like me, that I wasn’t a good person and that everyone around me wasn’t good either. What would I expect from friends like that? You are who your friends are, and I wasn’t around good friends at all.

Then I started on the Personal Values course, and I started studying about honesty and being true to myself and others. I learned about ethics and moral codes. Everything I learned from that book my mom had taught me when I was a kid, but along the way of drugs and alcohol, I lost my ethics. I started being more honest with myself and with other people. I learned to face my past and accept what I had done before and move on.

Sober man
Photo by Hiraman/iStockPhoto.com
 

I don’t have to drag my bad memories with me everywhere I go, and I don’t have to sleep with those bad thoughts every night for years to come. All that was over, and I was starting a new life in every aspect of my life. I felt light on my feet, and my head was super clear. I realized that drugs will change your mind and sicken it with bad thoughts and bad intentions, bad memories and no hope for the future. Finally, I was thinking clearly, and I was looking forward to the days to come.

For the next course, I sat down and studied the conditions of life. I learned that in every aspect of my life, I am in a different condition, and now I have formulas that will guide me step by step to get out of that condition and move on to a better one.

The whole program is like a puzzle—every piece is needed to start a new life. Every day I learned something new. Every day I saw the other students change for the better and become more productive. They became more clean and more positive. It was like I was at a mechanic shop where they get all the broken cars and fix them, and each car comes out polished and clean. I saw students with anger problems that came in like lions and went out like teddy bears.

The most important thing is to ask for help when you need it. Our way of life didn’t work on the outside, so it was time to try a different way. It was time to try someone else’s way. Rehab will not only change your habits and help you make new ones, but it will also help you control your negative emotions and see the positive in everything. It will help you build a successful life.

Now I pay my child support. My relationship with my family is better than ever. I get happy with the simplest things. I wake up smiling every day. I have the ability to deal with problems and fix them. I have a very supportive group around me. I am about to get my driver’s license back. And I haven’t even thought about taking drugs since I was on the Objectives step.

After some time, I wanted to give back, like so many staff had done for me, so I called Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma, and I applied for a job. Then three weeks later, I landed in Oklahoma. I now live at Narconon Arrowhead, and I hold multiple positions there.

I thought I learned everything I needed during my stay as a student, but now, as a Narconon staff member, every day, I have a new realization, and every day, I learn something new. I have the opportunity to help the students here, and they teach me something new all the time. I enjoy being in touch with graduates and learning about their successes after completing the Narconon program. Life is beautiful, and I intend to enjoy every moment.


AUTHOR

Heni Azzam

Heni earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Video Production from the Art Institute of Houston and went on to work in the media for 16 years, eventually becoming an Operations Manager for a television station. Having witnessed the harm that drugs and alcohol wreak on people’s lives, he is now utilizing his skills to spread awareness about drug and alcohol addiction and to bring hope to families and individuals who are battling addiction.

NARCONON ARROWHEAD

DRUG EDUCATION AND REHABILITATION