Nakayama Masahiro (DARC member)
As mentioned in this Bulletin before (n. 127), we deal here with articles concerning three priority topics, anguish and mental worries of people, foreign workers in Japan and global marginalization. This time we present a public lecture on psychological worries of modern Japanese.
The lecturer is Mr. Nakayama (45 years) who recovered his health attending the Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Center (DARC) and cooperates now with DARC's staff for the rehabilitation of his companions. He also gives public lectures. DARC is an organization set for the rehabilitation of drug addicts and similar to the Group Alcoholic Anonymous has groups called NA (Narcotics Anonymous) that follow a 12-step program. This way, persons with similar psychological problems gather to support each other, building self-help groups. Such groups of people with psychological problems are taken momentum these days.
Hearing the expression ‘mental worries' people tend to think of technical counseling, but there is suffering and pain that can only be understood by those going through same experiences. Such people may find new ways to live and foster new energy in their lives by helping each other. These self-help groups can become the key of recovering by confronting their mental sufferings. (Lecture given at the Melchizedek gathering in St. Ignatius Church, 11 January, 2006. Shibata Yukinori of Jesuit Social Center edited it)
Whenever I talk to students on how to prevent the abuse of drugs I always stress the fear of using drugs, but here let me frankly relate my experiences, including the good points of drugs to you, adults with common sense. I will start quoting some paragraphs of "self acceptance" as I usually do with group therapy at DARC.
"Today, the first step toward self-acceptance is acceptance of our addiction. We must accept our disease and all the troubles that it brings us before we can accept ourselves as human beings. The next thing we need to help us toward self-acceptance is belief in a Power greater than ourselves who can restore us to sanity. We do not need to believe in any particular person's concept of that Higher Power, but we do need to believe in a concept that works for us. A spiritual understanding of self-acceptance is knowing that it is all right to find ourselves in pain, to have made mistakes, and to know that we are not perfect.
The most effective means of achieving self-acceptance is through applying the Twelve Steps of recovery.
Now that we have come to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we can depend upon His strength to give us the courage to honestly examine our defects and our assets. Although it is sometimes painful and may not seem to lead to self-acceptance, it is necessary to get in touch with our feelings. We wish to build a solid foundation of recovery, and therefore need to examine our actions and motivations and begin changing those things that are unacceptable.
Our defects are part of us and will only be removed when we practice living the NA program. Our assets are gifts from our Higher Power, and as we learn to utilize them fully, our self-acceptance grows and our lives improve.
Sometimes we slip into the melodrama of wishing we could be what we think we should be. We may feel overpowered by our self-pity and pride, but by renewing our faith in a Higher Power we are given the hope, courage, and strength to grow.
Self-acceptance permits balance in our recovery. We no longer have to look for the approval of others because we are satisfied with being ourselves.
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We are free to gratefully emphasize our assets, to humbly move away from our defects, and to become the best recovering addicts we can be. Accepting ourselves as we are means that we are all right, that we are not perfect, but we can improve. We remember that we have the disease of addiction, and that it takes a long time to achieve self-acceptance on a deep level.  No matter how bad our lives have become, we are always accepted in the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.
Accepting ourselves as we are resolves the problem of expecting human perfection. When we accept ourselves, we can accept others into our lives, unconditionally, probably for the first time. Our friendships become deep and we experience the warmth and caring which results from addicts sharing recovery and a new life".icts sharing recovery and a new life".

Let me tell you about my life. I was born in Yokohama. My grandfather was alcoholic and playboy and was, seldom, at home. My mother and grandmother were always fighting, as it often happens with brides and mothers in law. My father, educated by an alcoholic as my grandfather was, did not know how to love women and as a result his treatment of my mother was terrible. My mother was very devote believer in the Tenrikyo religion and later converted to a new sect of the Nichiren religion. The mutual relationship of my parents was bad, but my mother had a blind love for me. My father constantly persecuted my mother's faith using violence. I became a leader of a religious youth group and was a fervent believer. The more I and my mother fervently attended religious ceremonies the crueler the violence used by my father became. Years later a psychologist explained that we had formed a "mother-child capsule" alienating, most probably, my father from us.
I was a "good boy". I was over subtle and all I looked for was to make my mother happy. Till I entered middle junior school I did not study much, but one of my friends had entered a famous private university and, thinking that it would give great joy to my mother, after entering high school I studied very hard and at my second try I was able to enter the same university. During my high school years I did not experience the period of contrariness. I was also a "good boy" at church and tried to show everybody my daily devotion and ascetic practices. Faith was meaningful to me as much as I could make my mother happy and could be taken as a good religious person. Now I can realize how strongly I was close up in myself. Since I did not go trough a period of critical thinking I felt much attraction to do evil.
Inside myself I looked down on wild driving youth with contempt, considering them as "social garbage", but, frankly speaking, I sometimes thought that it should be quite enjoyable to run roaring and freely around town. I remained in a standstill situation because I was obliged to live according to moral standards.
After graduating from the university I joined a tailoring shop. When I was 32 I visited a friend who had marijuana at home. Since I was always afraid of what my parents will tell me I did not start smoking till becoming 20 years old and only after entering university did I drink alcohol. Of course, I already knew that countries like Holland allow the use of Marijuana and that in some States of North America only the private possession of Marijuana, not its sale is legally permitted. Marijuana is harmless. But, after joining DARC I realized how mistaken I was. Before I was convinced that just a small amount will not damage me and I started its use. But then I got into it and that gave me a great pleasure. It is different with alcohol because it takes years before you become alcoholic; one time alone will not do much harm. The same is true with marijuana. Nevertheless, when I stretched my hand for the first time to marijuana I got into the habit and started to look for it.
Now, after a while I asked a friend "isn't there something more enjoyable and better?" Drugs (white powder), was the answer. I was not aware of drugs till then. In my opinion you inject them, but I was told that you place the "white powder" on a piece of aluminum foil, roast it with a lighter and inhale the fumes with a straw. "What is this", I asked. "It is a marijuana reinforcing pill; it is called SPEED", I was told. Young people around Shibuya Station call it "S", a slang expression for drugs, totally new to me.
That was my first experience with drugs, an unusual liberating feeling. After going through so many humiliations in life I felt liberated, "what a great feeling!" The pleasant feeling of drugs remains even after getting up in the morning. And, under the belief that drugs are another kind of reinforcing marijuana harmless pills I decided to continue using them.

After a while my friends told me that people used to call me "sucking baby Masa", from my name Masahiro. I refuted them that I did not use drugs, but they doubted it: "Those are 'S', real drugs" At that I panicked but it was too late. As the TV commercial, "will you stop taking drugs or rather being human?" reads I also thought that by using drugs just once I will spoil myself and lose my humanity.
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On the other hand, it took me almost a year to understand that I was taking drugs and I could still control myself then. I was using drugs with control and feeling liberated. I could finish the work that accumulated, and was able to forgive people and to refrain from anger and smile to others. I did not feel envy towards people and could not believe why the government forbade such good medicines. This is why I am much afraid now. Certainly, nowhere can one taste such a feeling of liberation.
In the meantime, I became badly dependent on drugs and I think that this phenomenon occurred very fast. Since my grandfather was an alcoholic maybe my tendency to addiction was hereditary. For about half a year I used drugs with control. I did not know those selling them. I obtained them from friends, so there was some control not to abuse them much. In the tailor shop I was working there were some employees that lived quite lavishly and phoned their friends, from time to time, asking them whether they could provide them with drugs they would like to use. That was easy, but after a while I went to buy them by myself and that was my tragedy of starting to fall down. At the end, my friends realizing that I was using double dose of an ordinary person refused to sell drugs to me, afraid of how wildly I was using them.
I cannot throw away a cigarette butt and can hardly forgive persons doing it. The same thing happens to me with those sitting in the trains with their legs all open or those who leave open the doors between wagons. But, there is no problem whenever I used drugs. I did not go through a period of contrariness in my youth and was not able to do evil, but under the influence of drugs I can do any evil and it's very easy to me to forgive others. Sexually, since I was raised under much constraint I feel deeply liberated. I cannot refrain from using drugs.
I usually start on Friday nights to end on Sunday nights. I feel I should stop then, because next day is a working day, but when I realize it Monday has started. At that time the Internet was becoming popular and I was playing with the Internet during 3 consecutive days, without eating meals or sleeping. I spent quite a joyful time that way. I was still early in my thirties and felt full of vigor. At the beginning I took days off lying to my company about being ill with fever, but little by little thinking that maybe they had doubts about my honesty wild ideas came to my mind. And as a result, I had to continue building up new lies such a way that I got lost about when and how I had lied. A web of lies surrounded all my life.

I was forced three times to stop using drugs before joining DARC. The first opportunity was that drugs have side effects called the "normal course" i.e. to repeat the same action several times. Once I used drugs at my work place and I tried to take out my contact lens because my eyes were drizzling. Then the "normal course" occurred and I remained for 5 hours in front of the mirror in the toilet, where nobody was, trying to take out my lens.
At the end I felt pain in my eyes and since I could hardly see I called home and my younger sister came to help me to return home. Next morning when I got up I could not see and I went immediately to an ophthalmologist nearby but he could not do anything. When I visited a big hospital the doctor warned me that I was in danger of becoming blind. Then, I had mixed feelings at the time. On one side, I wanted to stop the use of drugs but on the other side I thought that I could not use drugs any more in case I would become blind. Isn't this what we call addiction? Since everything was discovered I took the hand of my mother and promised her I will never do it again. Nevertheless, as soon as my sight recovered the first thing I did was to contact by phone a person selling drugs. When I was blind I swore strongly not to take drugs anymore but I could not keep my oath when I could see again. I had a job and money to spend and my parents did not mind much about me taking drugs.
But, when my parents felt suspicion about me again my father especially changed his attitude towards me. I mentioned before that I and my mother had built a mother-son relationship like a "capsule". I hated my father like an enemy; I could not stay even 3 minutes together with him in the same room. He, seemingly, wanted to heal me showing his affection and all of a sudden he greeted me in the morning. My reaction was that he had doubts about my behavior so I could start using him.
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If he got angry that would be quite depressive but since he appeared being tender I took it as a personal liability that I could be able to use in the future. When I was in danger of becoming blind, my father started to change and to attend DARC meetings with other families. In any event, no matter the beginning of my blindness I could not stop taking drugs.
Although I could not continue lying to my superiors in the company anymore, I created all kinds of diseases not to work. Since, basically, I was a "good boy" I often blamed myself for the lies. Later I became absent without leave unable to contact the company. They asked me to inform them at least by Fax and although I did that, after a while I got afraid and stopped sending faxes. Then I went to work in the evening when everybody had finished and returned home in the morning, changing my life schedule. That situation was terrible but since my company was a tailor shop I was allowed to work that way.
My second opportunity arrived. I was told by my superiors that they wanted to do something with me but, unless I informed them ahead of time of my absence from work, I could not continue acting like that. I liked the place very much. A friend had introduced me to them days after I had left the job I was doing in a different tailor's shop. I was lucky to find such a company and did not want to stop working there in order to satisfy my pride.
My last absence without leave happened when I was in Shibuya's Miyashita Park. It was pitiful and dirty, because I spilled my urine outside the toilet stool and unless I injected drugs I was afraid to come out. So I did it and although I could have made a phone call to my company I became afraid under a delusion of persecution. Trembling I injected myself and when I realized it, it was after 10 in the morning. The work had already started and I heard a strong noise like bumping on the floor; I felt that I had fallen all the way down. In spite of that I could not stop taking drugs, no matter whether I had to cease from my company.
The truth is that, since I stopped work from personal reasons I did not qualify for unemployment insurance, but the company was kind enough to apply for a 3-month unemployment allowance because of voluntary retirement. From that day on, I started receiving my allowance and as a result I enjoyed a heavenly environment for a drug addict. I had money and a place to live plus plenty of free time. In despair for having lost my job, my addiction to drugs became wild and I continued making successive hits. I did it even inside the toilets of the Employment Security office. There, for the first time, I experienced bad feelings. The first 15 minutes were enjoyable but then my muscles got stiff and I had to roll up myself as if I were a cicada larva. Even now when I get nervous I feel the same after effects. Although that stiffness remained for 2 days I could not stop using drugs.
My mother, believing that she could heal me with her devotions, became more and more hysteric and due to stress lost her sense of balance and started to vomit heavily. Since I was not working I remained home but being under the control of my parents I could not use drugs, so I decided to leave home.Staying alone in love and business hotels I continued using drugs. When I got tired of traveling around went back home but to enter my room I had to go through my parents' room. With a dreadful sight and disheveled long hair I crossed my mother's room while she was vomiting and went into my room. I hated my father but I was fond of my mother. Nevertheless I remember that all of a sudden I felt intense dislike for my mother. I could not stop using drugs no matter what my parents thought.
During the term of my unemployment insurance the drugs I was injecting did not have any effect and in half a year I stopped automatically using them. Then my mother thought that it was the result of her prayers. He brought me to the religious leader to thank him for the cure of my bad habits and later on I started work again. My father also congratulated me and told me not to go to DARC anymore. Then, a friend phoned me when I had just started normal life.
"What are you doing now?" he said. "I stopped using drugs" I answered. At his invitation to try once more I simply slipped again thinking that the past 6 months without drugs had totally cured me. I was hoping for a pleasant time, but after 15 minutes of the shot I had to roll up my body in pain for about 2 days. It seemed true that the addiction had gone very far. Then, I was fired from my new job.
In despair I did not care anymore about work. I read once in a book that drug addicts become endlessly self-centered persons and that was happening to me. Please, do not misunderstand me drugs become your gods. I hope that you church goers understand it: "you try once and you cannot escape from it". I am quite proud of not borrowing money, no matter what happens, but at that time I borrowed from 5 different companies without fear, totally convinced that with drugs I had always God on my side. It is amazing how blind you become to yourself; you shut all doors in such a way that when you decide to go buying drugs you build walls around your brains and your only thoughts are drugs.

With debts and without a job I began buying drugs with a credit card facing the end. The other day I was moved watching a TV play of a little girl selling matches. Whenever she lighted a match her face was full of hope, but it fades out. At the end the girl dies. It is similar to drugs. The first shot is enjoyable, but you realize that drugs diminish little by little.
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At that time I shut myself up, being afraid to leave my room except when I wanted to buy more drugs. Only then I got energy to go out. I could not go even to the toilet and urinated on a pet bottle. When that overturned the smell was terrible because all windows remained closed. It looked like hell.
I got interested in the reactions of my mother. She entered my room while I was shopping and cleaned it, leaving an empty pet bottle. It must have being very painful to her. Can you imagine that instead of showing my gratitude I thought that she could be useful to me? When I started drugs I was 32 years old and continued its use till I became 40. For 8 years I was taking drugs during 4 consecutive days a week without leaving my room. My mother realized that the effects only lasted for 2 days and she will leave some food and tea outside my door every time. I opened suddenly the door and ate avidly the food. I did neither go to the bath nor compose my hair and beard. It was like hell but, there was no way to stop taking drugs.
My father was attending the family meetings at DARC and they advised him to disregard me purposely. Then, one day in August, 6 years ago money lenders came to collect money I had borrowed and my father lost totally his temper for the first time and shouted, "Get out from here if you want to continue using drugs, but if you want to remain here stop its use". Twice before when he hit me for using drugs I contested him telling him that it was his fault and then he gave in defeated. I thought the same will happen this time but he was firmly determined, "I give you no more than one month. Make up your mind", he warned me.
At that time I thought of becoming a salesman of drugs, so that I could use drugs all my life. I sought the advice of a friend who told me to forget about it: "a person shutting himself up can never become a businessman". I continued the use of drugs for one more month, but, at the end, thinking that there was no hope for me I surrendered to my parents and asking for their forgiveness I told them to intern me in a hospital. I entered the Serigaya hospital (Yokohama) in September. Frankly speaking I was relieved. For 8 consecutive years I had been a drug addict, losing all trust from people and everything I owned, I had lost my religious faith and brought trouble to people every time. I followed the program of the hospital and although I still desired to use drugs I felt, for the first time, a sense of relief. I started to attend DARC rehabilitation programs in Yokohama.

The first three months were quite comfortable. One listens to other patients in group therapy.
I realized, for the first time in my life, how powerful healing arises from listening to the experiences of other weak companions suffering from similar pain.
And since I was a fervent Buddhist I reacted positively to the expression "higher power" of the 12 steps. I felt opposition to the stinky Christian atmosphere, but it was really pleasant. I got to think that this time I could stop drugs, but the second trial started. A companion invited me to a bargain sale and we went together to a department store in Yokohama. In our way near the harbor we passed by a beautiful public toilet and that reminded me of the times I shot myself drugs. My desire for drugs came out again. Although group therapy advances steadily one loses the peace of heart and starts confronting the companions.
I thought that people accepted me as their companions, but sharing a community life one gets disgusted with people for small details, like the use of the refrigerator or the disposal of garbage. Everything works against you after six months and no matter efforts everything goes wrong. No more messages from friends, criticisms do not stop, the desire for drugs goes on increasingly, no more money available and one cannot go back home. Then, the rehabilitation program started to affect my heart. When I realized that I was powerless to stop shots and to better human relations with the companions the desire for prayer sprouted in my heart. I asked a Sister that always attended our meetings "What is prayer?" She replied, "When a person is sinking in deep water s/he struggles to get afloat. You are now in such a situation. Feel at ease and you will feel as floating. That is prayer". From that day I started to pray.
The NA group borrowed a hall in the basement of Yamate Church (Yokohama). People gather in the Church to pray on Saturday evenings. I did not feel anything special the first time I entered the Church, but when I went there again they were reading the Gospel of the prodigal son. That motivated my conversion. I had never received such a powerful healing. I was deeply moved at the thought that after being totally lost I could be forgiven. "The prodigal son had misused all his earnings as I also did. Everything had been lost". As a result, I went to the Sister and became interested in Christianity. Little by little I continued studying and received baptism.
If I had not lost everything I could have become a very ugly person. I was very selfish and proud and discriminated against people using moral standards that made me odious to others. I often believe that God crashed my pride to humble me. A while ago I celebrated the 5th anniversary since I stopped the use of drugs. The rehabilitation program usually leads you to be humble, but in my case it has given me a guarantee of total victory, so that I have the feeling to have become proud. Having lost everything and shrinking to the bottom.
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I was able to sympathize with my companions in the meetings, but how could I now, after only 5 years judge them? How is it that I take the same attitude of the elder brother of the prodigal son? I am now an avid consumer, something like a slave of a habit to buy all kinds of goods, a different type of addiction.
You provided me an opportunity to tell here my experiences, to make an act of public conversion, something I have not been doing for a while. In the meetings I usually expose my daily anxieties, but without reflecting on the most important issues, like "I was a drug addict and that reality made my life very painful". I feel really sorry for it. I have the impression that God has placed something like a ring in my heart that presses it whenever I do something wrong, something similar to the tale of the Chinese Buddhist monk who sent a monkey crowned with a metallic ring that closed tightly whenever the monkey tried to do something wrong. The other day I understood that every time I get proud I desire to shot myself again. Two days ago I bought something very expensive and the desire for drugs became quite strong. Really, that occurs when I distance myself from God.
On the other hand, my companions make me aware of the problem. When I go to NA to attend the sharing meetings I realize how proud I am and decide to renew the program.

When I reached the 4th step (to make a personal moral inventory) I realized that avidity for goods and complexes created a painful living situation. The 5th step sounds like making a confession to a Catholic priest, but the first time I went to confession and all sins of my life were forgiven I had a sensation of total liberation. Nevertheless, after a while dirt piled again in my heart and it becomes difficult to disdain my former addictions. On the other hand, I can remain humble as long as I stay with companions. Certainly, humility stops me from using drugs again. Whenever I get proud there is an opportunity like today of a spiritual gathering for which I am really thankful. Today I am clean again. Thank you very much.

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
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