The Reality Of Growing Up With A Drug-Addicted Single Father

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The Reality Of Growing Up With A Drug-Addicted Single Father

13-Apr-2022
By MJC97

In the year 2020, there were a total of 13.9 thousand new cases of drug abuse in Malaysia. Drug abuse is a toxic addiction that not only negatively impacts the addict but also those around them like family, friends and even co-workers. If a parent is an addict it can have a long-lasting effect on their children's health, education and development. 


However, just because a parent is an addict that doesn't mean that they are a bad parent, in some cases, they manage to provide their kids with love, support and everything else that is needed but it can still be heartbreaking growing up with a parent who is also a drug addict. 


Maria, 25, who is from Perak, Malaysia grew up with a single dad who was addicted to methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and much more. Growing up with parents who were friends with people from the T20 financial category, her dad was introduced to the privileged lifestyle.  According to Maria, her father's friends' parents had connections that got them out of everything, even drug abuse so it was sort of a normal thing for them. Being friends with them meant participating in illegal drug use with them, minus the privileges. So by the time her dad was a teenager, he got in trouble with the law quite a number of times. Here, Maria shares her story with Goody! about what it was like growing up with a parent struggling with addiction. 

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According to Maria, shortly after she was born, her mother, an Indonesian woman who was in the country illegally was deported and lost contact with her father. Since she was still a baby, her grandparents adopted her so that she would get to live in the country and later be given citizenship. At that time, Maria said her father was an addict but his addiction was still controllable since her grandfather was quite strict with him. Unfortunately, when she was 5, her grandfather passed away and that's when things started going downhill. 


"My grandmother was never able to control my father, so, he went deeper down the rabbit hole of addiction. Every month when my grandma got her pension he would take it all and spend it all on drugs. It would all be finished within a few days. To support us, my grandma would borrow money from loansharks and from some of her late husband's friends. This severed ties between her and many of our family's long-term friends and later even endangered my life," said Maria. 


According to Maria, when she was 8 years old, one of the loan sharks came to her school and threatened to kidnap her if her family doesn't repay the money they borrowed from him. Although at that time Maria did not realise the seriousness of the situation, as she grew older she slowly realised how that situation could have endangered her life if it had gone wrong. 

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"I never realised that what had happened was almost a kidnapping. Then, it happened a few more times and ever since then, I started being scared whenever my dad's friends would come over, even when they were just visiting, I would hide away in the room and not come out until they had left," said Maria.


When she was young she didn't really know what was going on but since her dad never hid his addiction and literally took drugs in their living room while they watched television, as she grew up she learned that what her dad was doing was wrong. 


"We would be sitting in the hall, facing the tv and my dad would be seated on the floor behind the sofa, taking drugs," Maria explained.


Soon, Maria said her grandmother left them to live with her daughter in KL. Since her father didn't have her grandmother's pension to rely on and couldn't borrow money anymore to finance his addiction and take care of her, her father then decided to start selling drugs. 


She told us that he would often take her on the bike with him when he went to deliver the drugs. He was using her as a cover, to not get caught but she was happy that she got to go on bike rides with her father and meet his friends. She knew what he was doing and was scared but at the same time, she liked spending time with him. 

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"I liked going on bike rides with him even though it was to deliver drugs to his friends. He used to tell me stories while I was on the bike with him and he would even buy me some snacks from the roadside stalls that we passed by. As a child you take any time you can get with your parent so it was like heaven to me," Maria explained. 


"He wasn't a bad parent. He never abused me or treated me badly. He showed me love and always reminded me of how proud he was of me. He always did the best he can to make sure we had food, we lived in a comfortable house with a nice television and we spent a lot of time together which is what a child wants. I remember how we would have movie nights every weekend where he would take me to the CD shop to buy some cheap CDs to watch. He would also always buy me snacks and soft drinks to enjoy while we watched the movies," she told us. 

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Maria knew what he was doing was wrong and she knew that he would get caught one day which forced her to grow up and think like an adult at a young age. Maria knew and understood that she had to work hard and study hard to come out of that life. She knew that even though her father was here now to take care of her as best he could, she couldn't rely on him forever so she had to be independent. 


"Realising that your father was actually the bad guy is a hard thing to process as a child. You really have to prepare for the worst and that's what I did. I learnt how to take care of myself and work hard so that if anything happened to him, I would be okay," she said. 


True enough, when she hit her teens, her father started going in and out of prison. According to Maria, her grandmother had come back to stay with her but since her grandmother was old, she would help her out as much as she could. Maria said, every time her father got out of prison, he would promise her that he wouldn't take drugs and that he would get a job and get his life together. She said, within weeks he would go back to his old ways. 

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"Finding a job as a convicted addict is hard and it's not like he didn't try. Since they lived in a small town, my dad's reputation preceded him which made it difficult to secure a job. Being continuously rejected affected him emotionally and mentally. He would cry whenever I asked him if he had a job and tell me that he was trying his best. The rejection was part of the reason why he would turn back to drugs," Maria said. 


Since everyone in town knew about her dad, Maria too was treated differently. According to Maria, people often looked at her with pity in their eyes. 


"One of the worst moments of my life was when my teacher took me aside and after a few questions about my family, the teacher asked me if my dad had ever touched me in a sexual way. It was the most stereotypical and disgusting thing to say. I was taken aback and answered the teacher saying "Even though he is an addict and a single father, he had never done that, will never do that and he does his best to take care of me." she told us.  

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Maria said that after that incident, she was so embarrassed every time she saw the teacher. She explained that her father had never sexually assaulted her. She said it is the stigma that exists in the society about addicts that made her teacher say such horrible things but it stuck with her. She knew that her teacher probably wasn't the only one who had such thoughts about her father but there was nothing she could do about it. 


Her father had missed most of the important parts of her life because he was in prison. He missed her getting all her important exam results, he missed her getting into university, he missed her first day at university and he will be missing her convocation which is in the next few months too. Maria loves her father but hates the fact that he is an addict.

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"I am very sad that he won't be able to watch me graduate from university but there's nothing I can do about it. All my life I worked hard so that I will be able to take care of myself and I will be able to show people that even though my dad is an addict and a single dad, I still turned out fine. I wanted to show them that just because he is an addict, it doesn't mean that my life is ruined too," she explained. 


Addicts in Malaysia are represented by the media as sampah masyarakat (trash of society) which has built a stigma towards them. According to Dr Rusdi Abd Rashid, director of the Centre for Addiction Sciences at Universiti Malaya, said that discrimination against drug addicts is still at an alarming level in Malaysia, and something needs to be done immediately to stop them from being oppressed by society and the authorities.

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According to Maria, she is seeing a therapist to help her heal from the trauma she experienced and she recommends anyone who has loved ones who are addicts to get proper professional help. 


Do you have a similar experience? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Single Dad Drug Addicted Drug Addiction Drug Addicted Single Dad Growing Up With A Drug Addicte


MJC97

Just another human, trying to survive.

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