Misconceptions are common among all of us. We have misconception about many things. The misconception I had prior to my fieldwork was that rehab centres are synonymous with jails. There might be also many other people who had this wrong idea and are still having such ideas at present too. I think it is time to shed such misconception. Shalom rehabilitation centre represents all the opposites of what I thought rehab centres are. Earlier I had the idea that Rehab centres are dark gloomy places where people who are rendered lifeless and broken by their addiction come and count their days and nights. The moment I set my foot on the threshold of the centre, I knew my perceptions, prejudices… whatever were all wrong and based on imcomplete information. How many times have we formed judgements based on incomplete knowledge and information?
Shalom is located at Chumukedima, Nagaland. It is a quiet place, ideal and conducive for a setting of this kind. The centre is a christian institution and is nicotine free. The recovering addicts are made to recover by developing a strong will based on the Christian principle of love. It is interesting to note that only the bare minimum medications are given even during the stage of detoxification. My fieldwork days were spent interacting with the recovering addicts, listening to their stories – both happy and sad. It was interesting listening to them. Their stories were all related to alcoholism and addiction. But they were like the lens of a camera lens viewing the same picture of alcoholism and drug addiction from different angles and perspectives. They were there with a sincere heart acknowledging their problems. They are firmly decided upon staying sober ‘one day at a time’. There was lots of fun, laughter and light moments. Never did I imagine that these people whom the society considered as ‘drunkards’ and ‘addicts’ would be having and discovering a meaningful life in the rehab centre. We considered ourselves as normal and good people who are not deviant from the societal norms. But after experiencing their lives in the centre, I am constantly asking myself, ‘Have I found the meaning of my life? or Am I living a meaningful life?’. May be I also need to start living one day at a time like those recovering addicts trying to discover the meaning of each day of my life.
Trust is the key to any recovery. Any person who goes to a doctor trusts the diagnosis and the overall treatment of the doctor. The doctors too believe and trust the the patient will respond well to their treatment. Trust and faith in oneself and those around us is also the key for the recovery of the addicts. This element is found to be lacking in the centre. The doors of the centre are always locked. The addicts should be admitted to the centre with their consent and it is done. Exiting from the centre also should depend on free will. But the sight of the lock on the door can trigger negative feelings that these are dangerous, abnormal people who have to be separated from the society. I do not mean to say that isolation and seclusion are not required. Staying in the centre itself, is a seclusion and an isolation. The lock on the door is something which intimidates.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are common among all the classes and strata of our society. It is interesting to note that all the recovering addicts are from the upper middle class families. Does it mean that alcoholism and drug addiction is not a problem among people belonging to the lower strata of the society? If I were to consider the rehabilitees in the rehab centre, the answer will be a definite ‘YES’. Let us not be fooled by the face value of the situation. There are alcoholics and drug addicts among them too! Where had they gone? What had happen to them? Maybe they do not have the resources to get themselves admitted in a rehab. May be they are not aware of such a setting called a rehabilitation centre. The guess can be many and never ending. What can be done?
May be take the rehab centre to them instead of waiting for them to turn up at the centre.
Alcohol, tobacco and drugs are used during election capmpaigns to lure the votes of the youth. It is not a surprise that there are many other rehab centres other than Shalom Rehab Centre. Ironically, Nagaland is proclaimed as a Christian State and a dry state. But the amount of drug addicts and alcoholics are just contradictory to the status of the State. No wonder the majority of the rehabilitees in the centre are from Nagaland itself. Alcoholism and drugs addiction are social diseases which are spread through various ‘agents’. Let us stop discriminating them. But let us help them and also pressurize the authorities concerned to deal with this disease in the way other diseases are dealt with by opening centres where every person from any walk of life can accss the service without being impeded by lack of resources and information. Stricter laws and regulations also are needed to deal with it. Remeber everytime you loath, abuse or insult an addict or an alcoholic you are pushing him more and more into the dragnet of his addiction. They are sick and need your care and concern that you give to people suffering from other sicknesses. (Robert)