Rehab Centers: Giving Hope to the Desperate
By Aditi Kumar
This was my first visit to a rehab and rehabilitation center and what an eye opener it was. A quick realization came to my mind that these forgotten members of society who are pushed to the margins due to drug addiction need constant love, empathy, support and care. It was a moving moment when I met an 18-year-old young man at the Kripa Foundation (a drug treatment and rehabilitation center), who first got into drug addiction out of curiosity and peer pressure, but who was now ready and determined to break out of the habit and return to the outside world to pursue his dream of completing his Masters in Computer Applications. He said he could only achieve this aspiration with the support of the Center and his family.
Other residents of Kripa have similar dreams and all need the full support of family and society. In a world where addiction to alcohol and drugs is on the rise, the importance of organizations like the Kripa Foundation – one of the largest non-governmental organizations in India, affiliated with the Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment of the Union and others like it, cannot be overemphasized. They have and render invaluable services in this field. Kripa has also worked with people suffering from chemical dependency and HIV infection. It aims to reach children and adolescents in the community for early childhood intervention and risk mitigation.
Fueled by a desire to reach those who have been ignored by society and subjected to ridicule and stigma, I visited a juvenile rehabilitation center in Shillong. The place had 15 inmates who received regular counseling sessions. There are classrooms, a recreation center, a library and a community dining hall, similar to a hostel but a free space where they are valued and not stigmatized. The children stay at the center for about three months and during this time they go through a process of treatment (dependency) and counselling. They have to try to deal with the withdrawal syndromes, which is one of the most trying experiences. However, it was heartening to learn that the Center has a very high success rate; touch almost one hundred percent by rehabilitating residents into society and helping them dream big and work hard to achieve those dreams.
There are many reasons children become addicted to substances, but one thing was clear. None of them chose to pick up the habit. They were pushed into it by circumstances, but mostly because of peer pressure and conflict within the family. The journey of these children and teenagers is difficult, but their desire to get out of the habit is admirable. After the children undergo a detoxification process in the hospitals, they are sent to the rehabilitation center. The first month, the Center focuses on physical health, then on mental and spiritual health. The Center has child psychologists and psychiatrists who offer individual and group therapy sessions. Every child needs undivided attention and space and time to open up and let go of their feelings. Psychologists and expert therapists play a pivotal role for a child in his or her battle with drugs, as the mind is plagued with emotional turmoil and mood swings. Children are advised to love themselves, develop healthy self-esteem and get rid of negative feelings.
Some people who have contracted HIV or hepatitis think it’s the end of the world and become depressed. Counselors give them hope that they can overcome obstacles if they have enough faith and follow a proper treatment regimen. During their rehabilitation, they learn from each other and from counselors that life is worth living and that they must overcome their addiction in order to once again become productive members of their families and society.
What addicts hate the most is the stigma of society. In this case, members of society also need guidance to better understand the plight of those who have become prisoners of drug addiction, since it is often family circumstances that push young people towards drugs or alcohol. As drug addiction affects the mental health of young drug addicts, some families do not want to take them back and want to leave them in rehabilitation centers.
It is often seen that drug addicts are reluctant to seek help because they fear stigma and family members also do not know how to seek help for them. Therefore, more awareness is needed to better sympathize with those who suffer from drug addiction.
On leaving the Centre, the children are afraid of the outside world and apprehend the prospect of having to face their peers in schools and colleges. Therefore, it behooves this awareness to empathize with recovering addicts so that they feel loved and accepted and this can help them get back to normal life.
The children at the juvenile care center were bright and ready learners and received vocational training. During my interaction with a boy who had a keen interest in computers and knew how to solve problems, I discovered that he was interested in learning new computer languages. This made me wonder what would happen to this young boy’s dreams if he did not get support from the Kripa Foundation and the government of Meghalaya. The dream would have been shattered.
This is where educating society about the reasons for drug addiction is imperative. More often than not, society is judgmental and tends to condemn drug addicts. That’s what pushes them over the edge. Just because a child made a mistake doesn’t mean they should be overlooked or ignored. Instead, we should all join hands to support those children who have fallen through the cracks and make them feel accepted. With proper guidance and education, they can overcome their predicament and excel in their studies. These drug treatment centers have been of great help and those who run them are patient, consistent and driven by a desire to do good for society. They too deserve our respect and support. Greater awareness and NGOs with the expertise in drug treatment are needed in Meghalaya to help combat and eradicate this societal malaise completely. A victim of drug addiction must be accepted and rehabilitated by the society to which he belongs.