Defeating addiction

Defeating addiction

INTERVENTION In the wake of June 26, the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Divyashri Mudakavi looks at what a Hubballi-based organisation is doing to help individuals out of drug addiction.

Rajesh (name changed), a 40-year-old doctor in Bagalkot was well settled with a private clinic, which was doing well. He had good knowledge about pharmaceutical drugs as his profession demanded it. His family life was also quite sound. But all of a sudden, he began withdrawing from his professional and family life. His social life also began changing drastically. His blood pressure began fluctuating and food intake pattern saw variations. This became a major cause of worry for his family. They then began looking for the reasons for these physical and behavioural changes. The fact behind this change came as a rude shock for the family. The doctor who used to treat patients had himself become victim of a drug abuse.

Experimenting with the drugs, the doctor had begun consuming drugs like nitrocine which is generally prescribed to patients to control hypertension and blood pressure during surgical procedures. The family worked towards getting him back to leading a normal life, without any delay. They approached Hubballi-based Non-profit Organisation Sri Maitri De-addiction Cum Rehabilitation Centre. The team of doctors, counsellors and nurses at the centre took up the challenge and treated him comprehensively  for a month which included medical and psychological therapies. This was followed by treatment for two years so that the patient could sustain the recovery. After this episode, he returned to normalcy and recommenced his practice.

Not just this doctor, there are many people in our society who accidentally fall into the trap of drug addiction and within no time find themselves entangled in the web. Sri Maitri De-addiction Cum Rehabilitation Centre has been a ray of hope for many such drug and alcohol addicts. Started  in 1992 by B G Meenakshamma, Sri Maitri Association began operating as an old age home near Bankapur Chowk in Hubballi.

Later in 1998, the old age home was shifted to Navanagar and a new registered centre Sri Maitri Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts began its operations. Though the head office was later shifted to Davangere, the major operations are in Hubballi. It also has branches in Koppal, Gadag, Karwar, Shivamogga and other places. Presently, the Centre operates in two three-storeyed buildings in Shakti Nagar in Hubballi.

New lease of life
The centre lends a helping hand in de-addiction and rehabilitation of alcohol and drug-abuse victims. Anybody in any circumstances can become an addict either to alcohol or some such other drug or chemical to which s/he surrenders for a change of mood. The result is an illness which can be treated. The ill-effects of such addiction or substance abuse are many and they become a menace, disturbing the socio-economic and emotional fabric of the society.

The main treatment period at the centre is usually between 30 and 45 days. The treatment consists of two phases. The first phase includes medical treatment and the second, personal counselling, yoga, prayer and other techniques. In cases of prolonged drug abuse, the period may even be extended. In case of alcoholism, group therapies are also worked out.

“The most vulnerable group among drug addicts is those falling in the age group of 20 to 40 years. But there are cases where even school students have taken to drug addiction due to peer pressure. In one such case, two school children from a school had begun consuming ganja and inhaling/drinking whitener, a fluid used to erase/ whiten the mistakes on documents. They were brought to this Centre where they underwent detoxification and psychological therapies. Consumption of ganja is more prevalent in school and college students as it can be procured easily,” explains Nagaraj Mudagoudar, a counsellor working with this centre. Slum children including beggars and rag-pickers indulging in substance abuse is also common as they are unaware of the ill-effects. Though it keeps them in ‘high spirits’ for some time, it eventually takes away their life, adds Nagaraj.

“The centre has 16 dedicated staff members which includes two doctors, two nurses, three counsellors and helpers. The patient capacity is 30 and every year, around 350 patients come here for rehabilitation. While one building houses in-patient section, the other hosts classes and counselling sections. We also conduct awareness programmes in schools and colleges in
urban areas and also in villages. At least four to five such awareness camps are held in a month. We also conduct public rallies and street plays to make people aware of the ill effects of drug addiction and alcoholism,”, said Ashok Adavi, Project Director at Sri Maitri. Ultimately, the goal of the organisation is to free addicts from a sense of guilt and bring them back to the society.

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