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Abdirahman Warsame co-founded the nonprofit Generation Hope three years ago to destigmatize substance abuse in East African communities, and is now publishing a poetry book that chronicles his journey to recovery.

Abdirahman, 24, wrote “From Addict to Advocate” for the same reason he co-founded Generation Hope: to save lives in the Twin Cities’ East African communities. His 16-poem diary aims to “humanize addiction” by addressing grief, survivor’s guilt, and imposter syndrome. Generation Hope, which is based in the Twin Cities, was formed by youth who have lost friends to drug overdoses.

“The truest and most universal language of mankind is pain. Everybody experiences pain,” Abdirahman said. “And throughout this, I speak about my hardships and what I’ve been through.”

Abdirahman will read from his book at 6:00pm on Thursday, June 16 at Granada Theater, 3022 Hennepin Avenue, in south Minneapolis.

One poem, titled “The Fleeting Thoughts of an Addict,” walks readers through the mind during withdrawal, which occurs when someone reacts badly after they stop using a substance they were abusing. An excerpt of it reads:

Everyone loves a happy ending
But is it truly progress
When i get a im so proud of you for changing
But disgraced If I tried but died in the process
Cold sweats
90 degrees but I’m shivering this is a bold step
Reminiscing why I started I’m flustered with regret

“Your mind is racing, you’re thinking about so many different things,” Abdirahman explained. “This poem captures, at least in my experience, that questioning of yourself, ‘How did I get into this position? Maybe it’s this reason, maybe it’s that reason.’ So kind of trying to figure out what it is.”

In another poem titled “Past,” Abdirahman shares his thoughts about learning to forgive himself–and letting go of how others viewed him post-recovery–in order to move forward.

“I really had to overcome that want for validation from other people,” he said.

Ahead of his June 16 book launch, held at Minneapolis’ Granada Theater, Abdirahman sat down with Sahan Journal and talked about the ups and downs of his recovery journey and how his experiences inform his daily work as a peer recovery support specialist. He also discussed the work it will take to address generational gaps in the local Somali community’s understanding of substance abuse and addiction.

If you or someone you know in the East African community is struggling with substance abuse problems, here are some local resources:

  • For information about support groups for alcohol addiction held at two local mosques, email Organizers will try to respond to messages within 24 hours.
  • The Twin Cities is also home to culturally specific treatment centers. Alliance Wellness Center in Bloomington is open to all communities and is tailored to the East African community.
  • Access Healing Center in St. Anthony is a treatment clinic focused on adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 in recovery.
  • Rahma Heart Care, a St. Paul-based clinic specializing in cardiovascular diseases where uninsured and underinsured people can receive care.

Aala Abdullahi is the innovation editor at Sahan Journal, where she leads the newsroom's community engagement efforts. An Al Jazeera and CBC alum, her passion lies most in using concrete data and audience...