Sunday, March 3, 2024

‘Recovering addicts require empathy to get out of the tunnel’

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Shillong, Dec 5: “If Alexander the Great and Hitler could not achieve anything by brute force, how can strict laws and force rid the State of drug menace when all the drug addicts require is a little bit of love and a lot of understanding,” said a recovering addict and General Secretary of Meghalaya Users Forum, Bary Lesslie Kharmalki.

Painting the true picture of the condition of recovering addicts and users on the ground, Leslie, who is clean for the past 16 years, said that there is a huge problem when it comes to availability, accessibility and affordability.

He pointed out how the rehabilitation centres in the State are very expensive and while the State government is coming up with programmes and spending money on organising huge programmes, the same money can be used by recovering addicts to buy more medicines and better their lives.

According to Kharmalki, much focus is laid only on the negative side of drug users while there is also the positive side – their success stories and how they can emerge as an inspiration to others who are fighting against drug abuse.

He narrated his story about how he was also inspired by a senior to get out of addiction. “Such positive stories should be focused upon as only an addict will understand the perils of another recovering addict no matter what the doctor or counsellor says,” he said.

Talking about criminalising drug addicts, he said that many drug addicts are beaten up every now and then and new stricter laws are being made to deal with them.

He reasoned that forcing things wouldn’t work and it is through meaningful community participation and a lot of understanding of the actual ground situation will only yield good results.

Recalling how he and the recovering addicts were petrified of International Drugs Day, he said many of them would go into hiding as a few of them were always rounded up and beaten on that day.

While thanking the State government for being pro-active in fighting the menace of drug abuse, he however said, “Remove laws that harm and improve laws that benefit”.

He also suggested that while new initiatives are welcome but it is often sticking to the basics of solving the problem works better.

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