Greetings, caring viewers. Today is the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Tragically, there are at least 200,000 addictive drug-related deaths each year. Other heavy tolls include increased crime, violence, costs for health care, law enforcement, lost productivity, and environmental destruction.

For many years, Supreme Master Ching Hai has expressed deep concern for people vulnerable to addictive drugs. During a June 2009 seminar, she discussed this “top killer,” along with three other harmful substances that people should avoid: meat, tobacco, and alcohol.

Drugs destroy lives, intelligence and function of countless of our kind, wreaking grief and havoc on families, darkening or terminating people’s future, youths’ future especially, as youths are impressionable and easily fall into this kind of temptation. Drugs can do all that. Drugs kill, often at a tragically young age. Is this not an intolerable crime begging to be stopped?

Addiction is a condition that will affect every aspect of one’s life. Number one, it will definitely affect the interaction, the relationship within family members. It will affect the school performance, their performance in the workplace because there will be a lot of absentees. And we were talking of the physical, emotional and mental, but I believe that addiction is also a spiritual illness.

Today, we will find out more about addictive drug use and recovery, in the words of four courageous individuals. These are their stories.

I started smoking a lot of pot (marijuana) and doing LSD (hallucinogen) at around 16 years old.

I found it to be an escape from some things that I didn't really want to face. The drugs didn't really help those situations. And then I started trying stronger drugs and heavier drugs because physically your body gets sort of used to or builds up a tolerance for drugs.

I met a man and didn’t realize that at the time he was actually a manufacturer of methamphetamine. I thought he was the kindest, loveliest person, and he showed to me this drug that made me feel good and happy, and full of confidence. And then a whole two weeks later is all it took. I was a mess. I was insane, I wasn’t me at all.

Nine years later, I finally managed to get off of it. It was a nightmare ride, and it was just the absolute worst time of my life. You cannot get any enjoyment out of anything, not even your children, your family. All you can think about and focus on is this drug and you need it. You need it more than you need food or water and it’s just horrible.

My parents divorced, and I always kind of felt empty after that. I felt like there was a part of me missing. So, I tried to fill it with drugs and alcohol. I started selling marijuana and stuff, and got into harder drugs, cocaine, ecstasy, and oxycontin was a big one. It’s quite expensive, US$60 for one pill. I ran out of all my money, and after that, I started doing heroin, I started injecting it. It was just downhill from there. It wasn’t even getting high, it was just trying to feel normal.

Because without it, I’d go through really intense withdrawals, and I’d be throwing up, things like that. There’s many times that I should have died from overdosing. I have three younger brothers, they all look up to me, and they were starting to head down that same path. So I was doing a lot of damage to myself, and a lot of damage to my family, bringing everyone down with me. I decided that I want to change and I want show them the right way to do things.

Once a person is addicted to illicit drugs, it is very difficult to discontinue the habit because of the strong physiological side effects.

The drugs were so powerful that even if I knew it was the right thing to do, I still wouldn’t do it.

When I was 17, I was exposed to cocaine at a party. And growing up and feeling insecure about your body, you peers, fitting in socially, I discovered that once I did that first line of cocaine, I immediately felt welcomed. I graduated high school, I went on to Queen’s University, I studied there for four years, economics, and along the way I stopped using cocaine and I switched to alcohol. I went from a stimulant to a depressant and that was to cover up a lot of the hurt feelings that I grew up with.

I went into my first rehab center, it was a 30-day, US$24,000 program. I thought I was going to come out and I was going to be perfect, back to my old self, have my old goals. And I relapsed the day I came out.

You realize that you’re the one who’s going to have to do all the work. You’re required to change.

When drug users strive to overcome their addictions, it’s very important to have loving but firm family support, with zero tolerance for addictive drug use.

Don't be ashamed and don't feel guilty about whoever is addicted within your family. Don't hesitate to seek help. Because it is a very, very difficult thing to handle.

The relationship with my family is pretty good right now. They support me emotionally, they support me in the endeavors I choose to do and I noticed we have much more of a healthier adult one-on-one relationship. I think that’s an important part of the recovery process, is your support network and growing together within that network.

In addition to social support, spiritual support have also shown to help drug users significantly in their path to recovery. Our Association member from New Zealand shares about her remarkable changes. At the time, she was not yet initiated into the Quan Yin Method of meditation.

After about 500 different ways of trying to get off the stuff, I spent nine years trying to get off this drug. It wasn’t until I heard Master Ching Hai speak, and it just clicked with me.

At the time, she had happened to move near a center of the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association. She began to interact with our Association members and watch Supreme Master Television. One day, she wrote a heartline for the channel.

And Supreme Master Ching Hai saw it [the heartline] and at the end of it, she said that, “And may Heaven bless you every day more.” And from that day on, boy, was I blessed. The addiction was gone, the cravings were gone, the suffering was gone. It was from that day it aired on Supreme Master TV, my life was healing, Heaven was blessing me every day just like she said. When you suffer from addiction, you don’t have that peace, and you don't have that serenity. All you can focus on and think about is your drug.

I think you need to be able to think about something else. Meditation calms the mind and puts you in this beautiful state of peace and serenity. Here is a [meditation] technique that gives you the greatest enjoyment you’ve ever received and it’s free, and there’s no side effect, and there’s no negative anything, I mean all it does is make your life so much better, it’s just positive, and it even saves the planet, it’s just amazing!

And it’s what I needed and it’s what I would highly recommend to anyone who’s suffering from addiction out there. Supreme Master Ching Hai, I would like to thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for saving my life, saving my children’s lives.

During a 1993 lecture in Geneva, Switzerland, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke with sympathy about the deeper spiritual reason for drug addictions and the remedy in meditation.

Drugs begins with the ignorance and frustration of the young people of our age, because many of the organizations sometimes have failed in satisfying their spiritual need for the higher meaning of life, more than just material. Because material today, we don't lack. Therefore, they're charmed, they're seduced into taking drugs, because in taking drugs, sometimes they can have hallucinations and feel comforted for a very short time. But little did they realize the very grave consequences after that.

Therefore, meditation is the best way to relieve all this suffering of the people when they want to know God, when they want to know happiness inside. Because our happiness through meditation, through the Light and the music of Heaven, is everlasting. And it's always improving and always more and more happiness, and never has any consequences like the drugs. If we can propagate more the meditational benefit, then the drug-effect on people will be less and they will understand where to turn to for a longer-lasting happiness.

There’s this big hole inside of us and we want it filled. And what we’re searching for I’ve discovered, is we’re searching for God. And, my God, I’m so happy now, I’m so happy!

There was a person who had found me when I was panhandling

one day, and I consider her to be my guardian angel. She was the person that got me back in touch with my family and tried to get me into treatment. I would work out or box or run or play guitar, whatever I could do to get my mind off of it [addictive drugs].

I think it’s very important if you’re an addict, to do something, or to focus on something else, especially if involves anything to do with nature. I mean the feelings you get, just being out in the sunshine. No drug can compete with feeding your children vegetables you've grown from your own garden, collecting the seeds, everything, and also we are all vegans.

As many would say, the best solution to the addictive drug use problem is to NEVER start in the first place.

It doesn’t make you cool to use drugs. Anyone, anyone can use drugs, but to say, “No,” that’s a strong person, to be able to tell your friends, “No, I’m not going to do that.” For parents, you got to open up that line of communication and be able to talk to your children about the dangers of drugs.

It's important for people to understand That you are really playing with fire. I know a lot of friends who overdosed and died. It does some pretty irreparable damage. And there’s so many things that you encounter: disease, drugs that are cut with different chemicals. The lifestyle itself is really dangerous. You’re dealing with people that are not mentally right. There’s violence and there’s police intervention and all of these things that are just not positive. Just know that life is much better without drugs, as somebody who has experienced it. Life is too beautiful to waste it.

We thank our interviewees who are former substance users for your honesty and sincerity in discussing your personal pain, struggles, and triumphs. Our appreciation, Dr. Norma Castro, for your expertise as one of many dedicated people helping others on their paths to recovery. We are also grateful to Supreme Master Ching Hai for her wisdom and tireless efforts to halt this devastating yet stoppable epidemic. Through shared awareness of the harms of addictive drugs and support of one another in healing, may we soon greet a healthier, happier world free of all harmful substances.

Thank you for joining us today on the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Now, please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television for Words of Wisdom, next after Noteworthy News. May you and your loved ones be protected in Heaven’s grace.