A new lease of life

Anindita Das looks at the work of a drugs rehabilitation centre in Guwahati


Prabal is now extremely resolute that he is not going to fall prey to the ill-habit of alcoholism again. He is 34 and regrets the fact that he had wasted his prime years by being away from his family and society due to his habitual drinking. He wants to give a new start to his life. He started drinking at the age of 17. It was a remedy for his insomnia. “I acquired the habit while I was in Rajasthan for about four and a half months as my father worked there. I was suffering from sleeplessness, could not sleep for 2-3 days at a stretch. Once I was offered alcohol by the helper who said it was a medicine which would make me sleep”.

It became a gradual habit for Prabal as he began consuming alcohol in every occasion after that. A third grade Central Government employee, Prabal had no other grave issues in life to ponder upon, except his drinking habit which made his life topsy-turvy. His wife Sumita and their two daughters had undergone a tough time coping with him. But it was quite late that he realized that the cause of his misery is his habit of drinking and that he should overcome it. Finally, on the insistence of his family members and seniors of his department that he is now determined to give a fresh start to his life.

For young Nekib it might have been a respite from his loneliness to get addicted to alcohol and drugs. Both his parents left for the heavenly abode when he was very young. “I have no problem living with my Uncle and Aunt, they are caring and loving. But I feel bad for the fact that I could not pursue my studies after the high school though I wanted to. My Uncle bought me an autorickshaw and I began working hard to earn my living. I spent a lot of time with my friends. It was with them that I got into the habit of taking drugs. Now I genuinely want to get rid of the habit and start the life anew”. Unfortunately, Nekib could not fulfill his wish to study further. The situation would have been different if his parents were alive.

People like Prabal and Nekib might have been victim of diverse situations, or perhaps it was a habit which they got into without being much aware of the impending consequences. Still they are fortunate enough to be under the care of Navajivan, a unit of ASHI (Association for Social Health in India, active in Assam since 25 years), a rehabilitation centre which has been facilitating their service towards the alcohol and drug addicts since the year 2000. Though the Centre is still in its growing stage, it can accommodate 20 patients at present. The inmates of the centre are mostly young men alongwith a few middle-aged people, who come here for a particular period and return back with a renewed zeal and enthusiasm towards living a better life.

Navajivan endeavors to provide a holistic treatment to the alcohol and drugs addicts. A brainchild of social activist Late Suchibrata Roy Choudhury, it is the outcome of one of the many organizations founded by her dedicated efforts to make the society worth living for all. Roy Choudhury devoted all her life working for the poor and needy. The concerned centre in particular is a sincere effort on her part to give direction to those who lost their way in the perilous hankerings of the world. It aims to help the addicts who come to them seeking their aid to get rid of their addiction. They are given all kinds of training to steer them towards a better and healthy future, both physical and mental. Regular counseling sessions are conducted for them and the physicians are consulted time to time for medical advice.

The homely ambience of Navajivan adds to the overall comprehensive approach of the centre. All the inmates live like a family, sharing the couple of rooms they have at present, eating together, making fun, helping each other at time of distress. Meghali Das, the treasurer of the organization says “The inmates initially throws tantrum regarding the food and the other facilities available and sometimes it becomes really difficult to control them during their state of relapse. Gradually, they adjust themselves to the environment of the Centre and get along with each other very well”. In order to have a better understanding of the needs and requirements of the addicts, as well as to motivate them, they usually employ a counselor who had been an erstwhile inmate of the centre.

It is a known fact that alcohol and drug abuse have been a major health problem of the country. Though banned in the states like Gujarat and Manipur, alcohol consumption is legal in many states. In Assam, too it is on the rise everyday in an alarming rate. Guwahati city had been witness to many crimes caused by the wide-ranging alcohol and drug abuse. Everyday there are reports of road accidents, domestic violence, patricide, matricide, crimes against women and children, all related to alcoholism in some way or the other. Alcoholism is also emerging as a major problem in the rural areas of Assam.

What becomes imperative to brood over at the present state of affairs is the availability of alcohol and drugs. Ironically, it so happens that only after some unpleasant incident takes place, everyone becomes active against alcoholism. The Government has also set a few rules and regulations, but the question is- are they adequate enough? Is it not necessary to take some sterner actions to eradicate the problem? Nekib, when asked, revealed that like alcohol different kinds of drugs are also very much available in certain parts of the city. At the same time the role of public awareness becomes crucial in this matter, the family members, the parents and guardians of the children cannot remain indifferent to the consequences of such abuse. The proverb prevention is better than cure fits here aptly. However, those who are already the victims need proper guidance. The organizations such as Navajivan have appeared to be a boon for such addicts, that endeavors to reintegrate them to their family and society.

Anindita Das

Anindita Das

Anindita Das is currently pursuing her PhD from the Department of English, Gauhati University. She contentedly follows her heart by being a content writer and dabbles at poetry which is her passion. While music soothes her soul, she travels and reads to unwind herself. Another favourite pastime she indulges in is cooking her way into anybody’s heart.