Dima + Cveta = love

With Dmitry and Svetlana Panish we met at the open day in the therapeutic community “Viata Noua”. That day, Dima with her daughter Sasha and son Tima visited Sveta, who now is receiving rehabilitation. In two months she will leave and she will return home to his beloved husband and children as a new person. Sveta and Dima feel like if some test is coming. After Sveta’s rehabilitation they all will have to pass the exam of life – sobriety exam. Almost 15 years with some small breaks, Sveta and Dima used drugs. During this time they managed to meet each other, get married, give birth to two children and come to the most important decision in their life – it is time to quit.

Dima: “The first time I tried drugs in autumn 1999, it was very cool. I started sniffing heroin, this drug was considered elite one, like an expensive car. The first time, as usual, someone treated me. At that time I was earning quite a lot of money and after the first time I wanted to buy more. At first, I did not really realize what I was feeling. But after 2-3 times I got high and, to be honest, I was even scared of how cool the effect was. I was 25 years old then. When I took drugs, I could feel things that are impossible to describe in words.
Pretty quickly, I realized that I was a drug addict. It happened six months after the first time. You know, I always thought that I can overcome it alone, I was wrong so much. Then I did not really understand what addiction was, I was absolutely sure that if I decide to quit, I will just give money to someone and I will be cured. Well, if not here, then abroad. I found out that it is much more difficult… Moreover, medical care is not the most decisive in solving this difficult problem. The most important is to admit that you have this problem, ask for help someone who already went through it and concentrate on changing yourself.”

Sveta: “I started using when I was 15. Then I was hanging out with people who already used drugs. My first time was in the New Year’s Eve. My friends and I went to buy a dose, to be honest I was not really interested, but I decided to try it with my friends. It was shirka (Interpreter note: extracted poppy straw). The same as Dima, at first, I did not understand anything. But then it got interested, I wanted to try again, and again, and then I got addicted. We met with Dima about 10 years ago, at that time we both stopped to take drugs for a while. We met accidently on the street and since then we are together all the time. Dima told me right away that he was taking drugs, but I was hiding it because I was hoping that I can deal with this problem alone. But finally I told him the truth and a year after we met, we started to take drugs together.”


Dima: “We were always together. I remember how we were stressed when Sveta got pregnant the first time. Almost all nine months we were both sober. We did not tell doctors about our addiction because we were afraid to be discriminated.”

Sveta: “Since we were taking drugs together, we had some sober moments, but never a sober year. When we did not have any drugs, I don’t know about Dima, but for me it was very hard to get out of the bed in the morning. Even to prepare the food. And it was almost impossible for me to find the energy to go for a walk with children. Where did we get money from? Dima was earning money.”

Dima: “Children were always with us, we were never leaving them with other people. We never beat them, never hurt their feelings. We even were taking drugs only when kids were out. When they were a bit older, we realized that we should change something and we started methadone substitution therapy, we managed to take it about five years. Our children were the main motivation for us. If not them, we would probably still take drugs. We are worried that our children can make the same mistakes as we did. But on the other hand, we want them to know how bad alcohol and drugs are and that it can all end up very bad, even with death. We both have friends who died because of overdosing. Sometimes we were also risking our life.


Sveta: “When I was receiving methadone, from time to time I was taking also some other drugs, but never “barbiturates”. At some point I used to take pills, they were yellow. And once my son, who was seven then, came to me and asked: “Mom, did you take these yellow again?!” and started to cry. It was horrible, everything turned over inside me. And, recently, my daughter reminded me that some years ago, when she was spending summer with her grandmother and I was receiving methadone, I called her to wish her happy birthday. “Why didn’t you visit me that day? I was crying and waiting for you all day…”

Dima: “Last year I went out of prison. I was there for one and half of a year. They put me there for a theft, but a small one. Actually, it was easy to avert, but at that time I was in such a bad condition that I was not able to come to the court – I was drinking a lot, drinking so badly that I was losing my consciousness. And also I was taking drugs from time to time. The prison was my last motivation to change something and to be healthy. When I left the prison, right away I started my rehabilitation in the therapeutic community “Viata Noua”. Now, when I succeeded in finishing my rehabilitation, I can honestly say that no one is able to overcome this terrible addiction alone. Only people who experienced it and know how to deal with this problem can help you overcome this obsession that turns you into a primitive human being.”

Sveta: “I came here the first time in 1999, I was alone, I didn’t know Dima yet. Before I was in hospital, I did detox of my body. My parents motivated me. After rehabilitation I did not take drugs for about three years, but then because of some reason I relapsed and the nightmare started again. Now I’m receiving stationary rehabilitation, which means that I cannot leave this place. I have only two months left and so many plans for the future – I want to renovate the house, go for holidays with my family, get a job and live a normal life, without drugs.”


Dima: “We understand that lots of work still needs to be done. But it does not stop us, actually it’s the opposite, it motivates us to even harder fight to overcome difficulties and to reach our goal. These 15 years of addiction were some kind of nightmare. We regret it, but this way that we went thought during rehabilitation gave us a lot. And we are grateful to all people who believed in us and helped overcome it.”

Sveta: “Right now I am taking my rehabilitation, so Dima is fulfilling the tasks of mom and dad. He takes kids to school, helps them do homework, cooks, cleans and plays with them. Kids help us a lot. They never complain and always try to support us.”

Dima: “Right now we are enjoying the life, we are enjoying being sober, the possibility to fall asleep without drugs, the blue sky, bright sun, child’s laughter – all this is “getting us high”. We are so happy that finally these 15 years of nightmare ended. To summarize, I can say one thing, life is beautiful and it’s worth to fight for it and never give up, no matter how hard it is. The most important is to not give up, never lose your hope and don’t try to overcome this problem alone.”