Methadone helped with dependency, but I still have to resist discrimination – Muhammad’s story

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On 15 March 1976, a child named Muhammad appeared in this universe. 

He opened his eyes and discovered that his mom and dad were divorced and that he was to be raised by his grandmother, his father and his aunt.

Muhammad lived in a neighbourhood full of drugs, especially because he lived in the city of Tangier, located in the north of Morocco and considered to be a gateway for drugs from Africa to Europe. 

Mohammad was raised and spoiled by his grandmother and his aunt. He entered school and started studying. He was in a difficult situation then because all his school friends took him for a girl.

When he started growing up, Muhammad was aware of his sexual orientation, which was favouring men. This exposed him to all sorts of bullying at home, at school and in the streets, in addition to verbal and physical violence.

Muhammad became a sexual exploitation victim, but at the beginning he didn’t really notice. On the contrary, he was accepting the situation. But Muhammad’s father rejected this situation and threw him out of his home. At that time, Muhammad began to smoke and drink bear in clubs that were open during the day, and he started skipping school, until he was eventually expelled.

Muhammad started a relationship with a young man of his age.

This young man was from a well-to-do family and he was sniffing cocaine. Muhammad also started using, but after a few days, the young man asked Muhammad for money. Muhammad didn’t refuse and went dancing in night clubs and working as a sex worker to give money and spend time with his lover.

Muhammad’s lover was incarcerated for drug possession. Muhammad went back to his neighbourhood full of drugs. He started using cocaine during the day and heroin during the night.

He found himself in a spiral of dependence. He was living alone in a small house he inherited from his aunt, and he eventually started injecting drugs. One day, the police attacked Muhammad’s house. All the people who were using drugs there fled through the roofs, but he stayed at home. The police found empty but used syringes and they didn’t take pity on Muhammad. They took him to the police station for possession despite the absence of drugs or people using them on the premises. 

After that, the police brought him to court and he was imposed a six-month prison sentence, unjustly and aggressively.

He didn’t know anything about prison and its rituals, but he found young men from his neighbourhood while incarcerated, and drugs were being sold almost normally there. He used drugs within prison and was administering his dose through diverse means.

When he was released, prison had had no deterrent effect on him at all. He actually rebelled and started selling heroin. He didn’t fear imprisonment, and this pushed him to sell and use, until harm reduction started in Morocco. His health was deteriorating, which encouraged him to seek care.

He started methadone maintenance therapy and followed several trainings. He then began to help his friends to get out of their cycles of dependency. His health has improved, but up until now, he is still suffering from stigma and discrimination. Despite everything, with his strength and his will, he has managed to overcome those discriminations and make his voice heard all over the world. 

Muhammad’s story is one among thousands of stories people live on a daily basis. 


Muhammad’s story has been translated from French and edited for clarity.