Former heroin addict comes back from the brink

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All employees in Jiang Haifeng’s company are former drug addicts.

From successful businessman to drug abuser and back to businessman again, heroin destroyed Jiang’s life, and now he just wants to help drug users rebuild their lives.

The quiet 40-year-old from Yongning County of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, ran a brickyard before he became a heroin addict.

In the 1990s, Jiang, one of the county’s first millionaires, was introduced to the heroin by friends.

“I was curious about the drugs at first but soon became addicted.” From then on, Jiang began an eight-year nightmare.

“At that time, I was spending 2,000 yuan (about 303 U.S. dollars) a day on drugs,” Jiang said. By the time he started to detox, Jiang’s multimillion yuan assets had gone and his brickyard was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Not only did Jiang’s career go into freefall, but his family suffered too. In less than half a year, Jiang’s 17-year-old daughter committed suicide and Jiang’s father also died of depression.

Jiang’s wife and son also became drug users, and they went through a compulsory isolation as drug rehabilitation. Jiang locked himself at home in a desperate attempt to go cold turkey. “I would throw up whatever I ate and I shivered even if it was a hot summer day,” Jiang said. “Once I drove to the bank of the Yellow River, locked the car and just, endured it.”

“Ten days later, I could suddenly feel my appetite and was very hungry, and I knew I was almost there.” Jiang describes his experience of detoxification as “dying once.”

When Jiang succeeded in beating addiction, he began to think about starting another business. In 2016, Jiang and his wife rented a place in Yongning County and started a business of tissue production, with the support of the county government’s anti-drug office.

Jiang decided to hire only former drug users to help them return to a normal life.

Jiang said his company produces about 4,000 boxes of tissues a day, and has signed supply contracts with 86 enterprises, many of which introduced by his friends at the anti-drug office in Yongning.

“We wanted to help make Jiang’s company an employment base for former drug users,” said Zhao Jianguo, deputy director of the anti-drug office.

Jiang Tao, an employee in Jiang’s company, was a county official before he took drugs. He went through drug rehabilitation three times, but each time he relapsed. In 2016, he joined Jiang Haifeng’s company and was in charge of farming the company’s 20 hectares of land.

The work kept him busy.

“I was a farmer and I am good at farming. My colleagues all have a history of drug use, so I do not worry about being looked down upon,” Jiang said. “I no longer think about those dark moments of my life.” Today, Jiang’s company employs 22 people and is growing.

“Yes, they are law breakers, but they are patients and victims as well. We need to help them forgo drugs once and for all, and re-integrate into society,” Zhao, the anti-drug office deputy, said. Enditem

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