An Inside Look at Malaysian Women and Recreational Drugs (Part 1)

A recovering drug dealer and addict, who once had a corporate job and seemed no different from any other urban professional, shares how she got into the lifestyle -- and why drug addiction can happen to anyone.
1 of 4

When we talk drug addiction, there are stereotypes which we tend to associate with drug use. We rarely associate it with the urban career woman, or the one with a lifestyle that’s admirable. But, the truth is drug addiction can happen to anyone — this is the most worrying bit. Some do eventually escape from the clutches of drug abuse… but there are also those who lose themselves completely.

This Special Report focuses on urban women and how recreational drugs become a part of their daily lives. Not just as a form of surviving everyday stresses, but also a form of escape. In this 3-part series, we look at it from the experience of a reformed drug dealer and user, a clinical psychologist’s expert point of view, as well as an exclusive interview with the police on the role of law enforcement.

In this first part, we are taken inside the experience of Liya Nashita, a reformed (and recovering) drug dealer and addict. Liya gives us a raw look at the ‘hidden population’ and how she, finally, took the step to break away from a life dependent on drugs. Today, Liya is an advocate for drug rehabilitation and volunteers with Pengasih, a private treatment and rehabilitation institute.

As she walked towards me in a neighborhood cafe, sunnies perched on her head, Liya seemed like any other working woman. She spoke so eloquently as we exchanged greetings and made small talk to break the ice. When asked how her family feels about her openly talking about her past, she admits that it was not easy for them to accept her decision at first. However, they’ve come to an understanding of her intention, which is to share her story in hopes of helping those in a similar situation as she once was. “After awhile, my mum said to me, ‘If your story helps others, go ahead. Just do it.’ It empowers other people and reinforces my own recovery,” she says.

Eena: I think in so many ways, it’s actually about how it makes you feel, right?

Liya: “Yeah. How going public (with my story) makes me feel is more important than what other people think of me. I told my mum, ‘I think most of the people in our lives kind of figured out (what I was doing for all those years).’ But no one actually spoke about it. So, if I managed to get out of that hole and be in recovery, why can’t I be proud of it?”

Liya Nashita

Liya Nashita, drug rehabilitation advocate

1 of 4