After coming out of the addiction trap, they have turned mentors for the addicts at the rehabilitation centre on Verka-Majitha bypass in Amritsar. Here they live together with the addicts and act as their counsellors-cum-guardians and have pledged to work and recover the lives of their “student addicts”.
The team of mentors includes three couples (recovered addicts and their wives who also act as consellors) along with three boys who are monitoring around 20 drug addicts whom they call “student addicts”, and aim to rehabilitate these addicts slowly and steadily. They live in a shelter home ‘Hermitage’ which is like an institute for the drug addicts where they recover physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
Under the supervision of Dr Jagdeep Pal Singh Bhatia, an extensive recovery programme is being run at the centre in which after finding out the real cause, these mentors help the addicts to share their pain in interactive sessions and activities which are part of the programme.
What makes this place unique is that here you won’t find doctors wearing white coats and giving lectures to the addicts, rather the recovered addicts who have already felt the misery because of drug abuse have taken up a mission to help their “student addicts” by living with them and involving them in motivational talks and activities.
Sharing his experience, Vishal Bamba, 33-year-old who is an engineer and is now working as a guardian of the rehab centre, says his wife Bhoumika Bamba (29) lives with him to support his cause.
“I was on multiple drugs like cocaine, heroin, excessive alcohol, etc. For more than 14 years, I lived with this addiction. Because of me, my mother lived with me at the rehab centre for four years and I recovered slowly. Then I got married and now my wife (Bhoumika) is a big support to me,” said Vishal, adding that the biggest regret that he had in his life was that he could not attend his real sister’s marriage because of his addiction to drugs.
“This drug addiction took the beautiful moments of my life. However, I feel lucky that today at least I am one of those who have recovered. My recovery has been fast and now I am here busy motivating others. When I help other addicts recover, it gives me joy. One needs to feel the pain to cure someone else’s pain and here we are providing them an environment and making them good human beings,” added Vishal.
Meanwhile, Nitin Gupta (43), who after consuming alcohol for 20 years has recovered fully and now is one of the guardians and counsellors at the centre along with his wife Namrata Gupta (42), feels they are into life-skill training and recovering lives back is the task given to them. “People who come here are the ones who have lost basic instincts of life and we all are here to regenerate it.”
Other couples living there include Dr Kawaljit Singh (47) and Jagroop Kaur, who works as a physiotherapist for the addicts at the centre. A doctor by profession himself, Dr Kawaljit, who was into drug addiction for 22 years, says, “Drug addiction made me behave at my worst. I haven’t done justice to my family and children, which I regret. I was an alcoholic. I used to take tobacco, I smoked for years. It was a self realisation a few years back that I decided to get treated and reach the denial zone. Denial is what an addict needs and that can come through a strong will power of not doing something which is ruining his health and family. Motivational lectures, sharing pains and talking to each other, involvement in physical and spiritual activities helped me and others like me.”
The couples who live there are living with a hope that they together can do it for themselves and others. Now having recovered and being a counsellor, they very well know that isolation can only spoil the situation further. Thus the wives of the recovering patients are also being encouraged to live with them and they have been a solid support system for their husbands and setting an example for others to follow.
Namita feels that women -- be a mother or a wife of an addict – instead of turning a blind eye, should fight the situation and the addiction their near and dear ones are suffering from.
Adding, Jagroop Kaur says, “I have got my life back. Today my husband is a changed man who has started respecting relations and knows his responsibility towards them. But I live with him as I know it is love and patience which he needs now.”
Like every disease, drug addiction also has symptoms: Dr Bhatia
Dr Jagdeep Pal Singh Bhatia, who runs a de-addiction and rehabilitation center in Amritsar, says, “Like every disease, drug addiction also has symptoms and its target organ is ‘BRAIN’.”
He adds the treatment requires healing of four areas, namely physical, mental, social and spiritual. “The detoxification, which is done at the hospital, helps in healing the physical and mental aspects which is managed with the help of latest medicines and therapies. This is followed by the rehabilitation which works on social and spiritual healing of the root cause of addiction: Pain.”
“Now, let us understand this pain. There is a chemical like substance in our brain called Dopamine. The addicts have a deficiency of this chemical which is responsible for happiness. This handicap in the brain creates a void in their life. To fulfill this void or the pain a person gets trapped into addiction. All this process leads to the person's acceptance of himself. His self-esteem becomes higher and he comes out of denial. Then to strengthen this process further, a family counselling and family support is must. And the last step is reoccupation of the addict where the addict should be taken back into the mainstream of society,” adds Dr Bhatia.