Ahmet (46) is full of praise for Najib Amhali, who has also been addicted to drugs for years. At the table at Jinek’s, the Moroccan-Dutch comedian said that he has opened an addiction clinic in Abcoude.
Amhali said: “When I came out with my story, I was told by complete strangers via social media: how did you do that? Very harrowing things. Whole stories, often about themselves, but also about: ‘My husband drinks and hits and I don’t know what to do.'”
At Jinek, he spoke openly about the culture of silence in the Moroccan community, and his wish to break the taboo. “We don’t come from a talk culture. We don’t talk about feelings anyway, let alone about things like this. It’s kept indoors, it’s a huge taboo. It’s important to talk about it, to take that first step: listen , I can not do it alone.”
Ahmet Türkmen, who himself has had to deal with the culture of silence, is very pleased with Najib Amhali’s efforts. “Respect for this, it is very good that he is taking this step to help people,” he tells RTL Nieuws.
Ahmet has lived in the Netherlands since 2002, but grew up in Germany. He was always very curious. “I wanted to try everything. Climbing trees, jumping from high mountains, I did it all. And secretly smoking in the woods. I just joined in with my friends.”
At 17 he came into contact with hard drugs. Speed, cocaine and heroin. “You try something like that once, and then again a few weeks later. It felt very nice, it made me less boring, I always thought. I also had to deal with stimuli constantly, but heroin made my head quiet. “
He became addicted. When he woke up, he felt pain everywhere. He had to use, otherwise he couldn’t function. Would he throw up again?
It controlled Ahmet’s life. He has even flown regularly to Turkey, with the aim of quitting. But that failed time and again. “I wanted to hide it from my family so I wouldn’t have to say I was addicted. If I came back then I could start over, I thought.”
At one point he told his aunt. “I noticed that I wasn’t eating, that I was sweating, and that I wouldn’t say anything because I was doing something I shouldn’t. Then I had to say it.”
Nobody talked about it
The Turkish community is very hospitable, but also very closed, explains Ahmet. “My whole family knew about it, but nobody spoke about it. Problems in families are not discussed, the doors are closed. They were told: stop now, go to the imam, get married, go to work.”
The problem was actually ignored. And when there were visitors, nothing was said about it. “Ahmet is just fine, they would say. There would be what I call a big pink elephant in the room. Out of shame. For fear of being left out. My father was also very respected, so it had to be kept quiet. An addiction is still seen as a weakness.” Islam plays a role in this, says Ahmet.
If someone in a family has an addiction problem, it’s called ‘bad blood’. “That your genes are bad. And then people don’t want those genes to be transferred. So it could be that if you got married, and the other family finds out, that’s a reason to stop the marriage.”
Ahmet says there is a lot of ignorance about drugs in Turkish culture. “Education is lacking. There is a fear of it. I have seen friends distance themselves from my father, because they were afraid that their children would also become addicted. It is also powerless.”
From debt to prison
With Ahmet things went from bad to worse, because help that would help him did not come. He eventually lost everything. “At one point I was in debt 60,000 euros, got divorced, ended up in prison, and became homeless.”
For 17 years he didn’t know that there is good help for people with addictions. He thought he could save himself. Until he was so depressed that he had to admit to himself that addiction is a disease. He sought help.
In a professional care institution, Ahmet got rid of his addiction. And that was 11 years ago now. “I’m fine. I have a dear friend, and I see my children.”
Ahmet wrote a book and is now using his experience and knowledge as coordinator of the Recovery Network in the Gooi and Vecht region. He helps, supports and trains employees of mental health institutions, welfare organisations, addiction care and municipalities. “My mission is for people to get to know addicts, so that they see that many persistent prejudices are wrong.”
His vision is that addicts can be helped by professional help, but also by experts by experience. “People who believe you. It also helped me to see someone come out. Take the step and seek help, you don’t have to do it alone.”
Addicts seek help late
Jellinek, one of the largest institutions for addiction care in the Netherlands, sees that it often takes a long time before someone with an addiction problem comes to help. “People first have to realize that they have a problem before they take the step. There is often seven years in between,” explains spokesperson Floor van Bakkum.
Addiction occurs in all walks of life, but how people deal with it can sometimes differ. “People are faced with stigmas. In Dutch culture, drug addiction is also seen as a weakness. From: your own fault, you started it yourself and were unable to control it.”
But the situation and environment a person is in can have a major influence on the development of an addiction. In a culture of looking away or shame, it is harder to admit an addiction. “The sooner you admit that you are no longer in control, the easier the solution is.”
Van Bakkum explains that Jellinek also focuses on the relatives of addicts. “Those people also need support, and receive tips on how to start the conversation. The neighbor is very important in the process of recovery.”