KUANTAN: Khalid Hashim looks like any ordinary man on the street, but what many do not realise is that he was once a hardcore drug user who stole or cheated anyone he met to get his fix.
The 45-year-old is now part of a voluntary team running a support group for drug addicts here called the Drug Information Community (DIC), which counsels those wishing to kick the habit.
Set up two years ago, the DIC centre is manned by Khalid and four other former addicts.
Khalid said to date the centre had counselled 67 drug addicts, including three who had since died of AIDS.
“We try to get them to stop taking drugs, although that is difficult because they will often face a relapse.
“But I always say to them that if I can get myself off drugs, so can they,” he said after attending a cheque presentation ceremony at the Mega View Hotel here yesterday.
State Health, Youth and Sports Committee chairman Datuk Dr Ahmad Shukri Ismail presented a donation of RM20,000 from the state government to DIC president Abdul Rahman Bakar.
Khalid, who is from Tanjung Api, said he found the will to break his 23-year-old drug habit by reminding himself of all the terrible things it made him do.
Among other things, he slept in the streets inside cardboard boxes and rummaged through rubbish bins for food.
“I had so many punctures in my veins. I also lost my wife, who left with my child long ago.
“To support my habit, I even collected unwanted dead chickens from the wet markets in Kuala Lumpur and sold them to unwitting customers,” he said.
Khalid finally decided to stop taking drugs one night some years ago when he went to a surau near here to ask a man praying there to help him.
“The man agreed to help me and to take me to his house, but when we were crossing the road, he was killed by a passing timber lorry.
“I told myself that man was killed while trying to help me, so I made up my mind then to stop taking drugs,” he said.
Khalid added that he later decided to also repay the man’s kindness by helping other addicts kick the habit.
Khalid said addicts who come to the centre are asked to join a six-month therapeutic community programme where they could also eat and sleep.
Later, they could take up jobs but must return regularly for observation and to attend after-care sessions.
These days, Khalid dons old clothes and walks through the back streets of Kuantan to talk to addicts and invite them to join the programme.
“Of course, many were hesitant but there were others who were interested and successfully kicked the habit,” he added.
Dr Ahmad Shukri said the emotional support provided by DIC was vital in attracting addicts to the programme.
“The addicts have a role model, so they will know they too can stop their bad habit. They also do not have to be scared of being arrested if they join the programme,” he added.
The DIC centre, located near the youth and sports complex at Jalan Tun Ismail, can be reached at 09-5132829 daily. The public can also visit it.