The following account has been squeezed from a lengthy interactive session with Mr. Sachin Tyagi Ji, that I was fortunate to be a part of. I am indebted to Mr. Sachin Tyagi Ji for his time, patience and most of all his memoirs. - Amit Rautela
My name is Sachin Tyagi and I hail from Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh. I have walked this earth for over 38 years, and of those 38 years I have spent nearly 18 years being progressively enticed, baffled, mystified, overpowered, corrupted and infected by this disease of addiction.
My first rendezvous with alcohol was in 1994, the year of my first guzzling session, but it was not until the year 2011 that I realized and came to believe in my powerlessness over my addiction and the extreme deterioration this disease of habit had brought about in the various realms and quality of my life. My life had become simply unmanageable, far beyond my control. I had become a mere spectator, just an imbecile audience without any control as the notorious drama of my life unfolded in front of my very eyes. Addiction was the puppeteer and I merely a puppet. A lot of important milestones of my life passed by in a jiffy and I was always in a state of aberration, never in a condition to control or influence my external and internal environments or the progression and the direction of my life.
The disease of addiction attacked my very being at spiritual, social, financial, emotional, and physical levels. This disease knocked me down from the high pedestal of love, care, compassion and concern that was in the eyes of the people close to me and sent me biting the dust and muck of remorse and guilt. I fell hard and I fell fast. I fell deep into depression, into the black and grey abyss of self loathing, self pity and zero self respect. I fell probably to stay in this harrowing quicksand forever. My addiction had emasculated me in every sense possible.
Up until 1994 I was living a nonchalant life of a nondescript 15 year old village boy without any qualms or anxieties prevalent in the boys of the same age group these days. I had witnessed putative elders partaking the activity of binging on alcohol during various ceremonies, functions and festivals etc. I saw them sing, dance, enjoy and discuss trivial or matters of great gravity when they were under the impression of alcohol.
At that age and time, I associated alcohol with manhood, enjoyment, respect, authority and power. Sadly, at that point in time I was oblivious, or chose to turn a blind eye, towards the evils of alcohol and addiction. I kept myself consciously unaware of the evils associated with ethyl alcohol and how it possessed people and became their biorhythm.
This observation of mine beckoned a phase in my life, which I would like to christen as my “TRADITIONAL USING SYNDROME”.
In my utter naivety I got a strong desire to grow out of my league and try the amber water of life. The fascination with alcohol grew within me in leaps and bounds, far out of my control. I started looking for likeminded peer, constantly toying with the idea of drinking alcohol. I had already played out the scenario and my resultant behavior post that first drink in my fantasy, without actually having the first drink in the physical reality.
Likeminded people are attracted to each other in a moment’s notice; is what they say and indeed it is true. Soon I was a part of, and in the center of a small congregation sharing my enthusiasm for “the drink.” The TRADITIONAL GROUP, as I called them would arrange for liquor initially pooling for money, and progressing on to the beg/borrow or steal methodology subsequently just before a major function or festival etc.
Finally I got my chance and struck gold as my “first drink”, courtesy The Traditional Group during a local village wedding. It was a life altering, habit forming and addictive behavior incepting singular experience for me.
As I downed my first drink in a gulp and after braving the initial giddiness and nausea, I got the “TINGE”... The much revered “LITTLE HIGH” as termed, famed and glorified in hindi as “हल्का हल्का सुरूर”.
This experience was so elevating and sort of adventurous as I experienced the high, while simultaneously getting away with being caught partaking the activity. It released a sense of fulfillment and euphoria within my very being and it paved the way for me to trot, canter and gallop into the kingdom of Alcohol Use and Dependence. I became possessed with the activity of forage and foray in the pursuit of alcohol consumption.
The immense pleasure full juggernaut that “first drink” set rolling for me turned me into a blackleg of the Traditional Group, always on the lookout and actively pursuing any instance/Indication of an alcoholic jamboree.
As the time progressed, so did my disease. I had started my journey (rather sealed a deal with fate) towards becoming a fully fledged addict. I use the term addict often for myself as it was not only alcohol that I was misusing, but I relied on other modes of intoxication such as pills, marijuana and injections as well.
However, let us continue where we had digressed a little i.e. me being a “Traditional User”. Though me and my compadre had started small, using low levels of alcohol to get high and enjoy ourselves, we were really unaware of the mystic yet predominant trait of alcohol, that it will increase our tolerance and craving for the similar level of euphoria at the same time.
As I carried on with my drinking sessions and time progressed I required more and more alcohol to attain the same level of high that I was used to in substantially lower levels of alcohol initially. This kind of development meant that I would require more resources mainly in terms of finances to quench my thirst for alcohol and the associated high given my buffered tolerance levels.
I at that time felt that this too was not a problem though somewhere deep inside I knew I was getting addicted to alcohol and moving towards frequent and higher consumption levels. I had moved forward from social/traditional consumption towards daily consumption and celebration.
Now when I look back at my erstwhile existence, I say existence because that is what I was doing. I mainly existed for the sake of my next high and I had ceased living in the real world. I feel that the major factor that confirmed me as a hardcore addict was OVERCONFIDENCE.
Overconfidence was the last nail struck onto the coffin of my sensibility and conscience, a stage I attained in pursuit of the ethereal “Little High”. If you are an ethnologist of addicts, you might be aware of the fact that we never really attain the nostalgic little high again in our lives, though we spend our lifetime, finances and efforts chasing the same and in the process we deteriorate ourselves and our ethos tremendously while crumbling our spiritual and worldly inheritances and corrupting the legacies for our future generations.
During our addiction we become extremely myopic and shallow. We consider ourselves to be the linchpin of the world around us, though in reality we had transformed into nothing but awful scavengers, the scum of the earth: as some would call us.
My overconfident nature opened the Pandora’s Box for me literally. My friends used to dare/bet on various extreme methods of using (like drinking neat alcohol, popping a large numeral of pills or guzzling excess volumes of alcohol at a binging spree). I used to readily take on these challenges and was always trying to over perform and over achieve the goal set. I was not even slightly conscious at that time of the jeopardy that I was bringing upon myself, my family and my well wishers ruthlessly.
It was not long before my family caught on that something was not right with me, especially my attitude and behavior. An individual’s attitude and behavior is always the first casualty of addiction. Unmanageability started dawning in my life as a result of my overconfident nature. Addictive behavior was now taking roots and beginning to affect my day to day life.
My family tried to confront me time and again. They pleaded with me to stop indulging in my wayward habits. At the time I was spiraling into the addiction abyss, there was not too much factual knowledge doing the rounds about alcoholism and addiction. Whatever miniscule forms of information were available were merely hearsay and predominantly myth that was unrelated or untraceable to any scientific facts or explanations. Moreover at the time I was living in rural Northern India where the general mindset was that an addict was either cursed, possessed by paranormal or facing the consequence of his own actions.
I turned a deaf ear to all their pleadings and a blind eye met the plight of my family. I always thought of myself as the aggrieved party due to these constant naggings from my family members and well wishers. The resentments I developed for them further oxygenated my overconfident attitude and made me a self obsessed and incorrigible pachyderm. I thought I was in control of my life and actions. It was late for me to realize that my indefatigable journey into the nether world of addiction had commenced and I could do nothing but suffer the ordeal as a jinxed traveler being taken for a ride on which he has no control. I had turned into a hard core masochist.
It took one more bet to finally shatter me to the ground. This was the coup de grace from my addiction.
My friends had procured some bhang (marijuana) infused pakoras, and we set out to feast on them. Since the quantity of the pakoras was far more than the people intending to devour them then as per tradition mandated, a wager was set up.
I waded hard and tough through the wager and ultimately won as I had many a times before, but this time around something was amiss and did not seem right. The disease of addiction had finally waylaid my path.
I was not in a position of extenuating the physical damage being caused to me anymore. This episode left with a tremendous side effect and I ended up running from pillar to post seeking treatment from the ghastly and foul physical pain. I had no fortitude to bear what I had subjected myself to.
The marijuana withdrawal gave me a permanent lingering feeling of a fluffy heart, nausea, breathlessness and body pain. Anxiety levels had surged tremendously for me. I was living under the constant fear that I might get a heart attack anytime. For the sake of my own skin, I could not tell my own family about my misuse of marijuana and they could not figure it out as there was no tell tale smell associated. My family thought that what I was undergoing was a heart attack and took me to a nearby doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
While I was alone with the doctor, I confessed to him about consuming marijuana in excess, so he treated me for the same and I recovered in a day or two. The recovery I gained from this episode was merely physical and very short lived. The attributes of marijuana withdrawal started haunting me quite frequently and my only way out or the remedy I devised for this was to stay intoxicated through the ordeal. The funny part about this is that I knew it was wrong, hell wrong, but I was stuck in a parabola.
Subsequently my family became aware of my dilemma and took me to various renowned cardiologists of Meerut city. The doctor’s diagnosis and the tests that I was subjected to did not ascertain any kind of heart ailments with me. The common verdict was that this was all in my head, but I was not ready to acknowledge this, so just to help me ease a little bit the doctors prescribed some medicines which used to keep me calm and quiet - in short sedated.
A sort of a CATCH 22 situation arose when I stopped taking the prescribed medicines. As soon as I would go off them, I would start getting the marijuana withdrawal symptoms back. The doctor then in his infinite wisdom or his infinite desperation prescribed diazepam, and thus another nail struck my coffin.
To Be Continued...Please share your feedback in comments below