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June 27, 2011

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Escaping the grip of heroin addiction

AFTER handing over her seven-month-old son to a couple she didn't know, Dai Jingwen took the money and left weeping, without looking back.

"I was crying, but I couldn't help myself from using the money to buy drugs," said the 32-year-old Shanghai native, recalling her past as a heroin addict.

Dai, who was addicted for more than five years, has now got her life back on track - reunited with her son, married with another man and running her own business.

Back to 2001, Dai gave birth to her first son but her "boyfriend," the boy's father and a married man, left her.

The single mother, without a stable job and addicted to heroin, decided to send her son to a couple in Henan Province who desperately wanted a child.

The couple gave her 10,000 yuan (US$1,545) to express their gratitude, which she used to buy drugs.

"The more I missed my son, the more drugs I consumed," Dai told Shanghai Daily, ahead of yesterday's International Anti-Drug Day.

Dai and her son reunited three months later, after her parents borrowed 15,000 yuan to get the baby back.

She was not punished for sending her child away and taking the money, though the "adoption" was illegal.

I was depressed

Dai said she got involved in drugs in 1996 when she met her married boyfriend.

"I had no idea what heroin was. I was depressed because my parents had divorced."

"It's a miracle that my son has not been affected by my drug use," Dai said, as she had used small amounts of heroin during her pregnancy.

It was not until Dai met her husband, Xiao Feng, a delivery man from Anhui Province, that she made up her mind to quit drugs.

After they were first introduced, Dai kept borrowing money from Xiao, giving various excuses, but actually using the cash to buy heroin.

When Dai finally admitted to Xiao that she had been using drugs, he simply asked: "Can you quit?"

"Those words made me realize I still had a future," Dai said.

Dai has been drug-free since 2003 and has a son with Xiao. The couple own a flourishing express delivery company.

Thinking ahead, but remembering her past, Dai said: "We hope to expand soon and we're willing to hire people with a history of drug use."


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