Today is 26th June, International Day against Drug abuse and Illicit Trafficking , this year’s theme is Global action for Healthy Communities with-out drugs. Every one in India concerned with the issue has prepared for the day, National Institute of Social Defence, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment; NGOs are organizing events to mark the occasion in New Delhi. Pehchaan Radio Club and Nada India has also started its Pehchaan awareness campaign on “Healthy Communities; No place for drugs” from Bhim Basti Mandi village South Delhi. For us, it is like a festival or birthday celebration; I have been celebrating this day every year religiously for more than two decades.
18th recovering birthday (drug free period) of Amar Singh (Name withheld), 53 year old married and having a family of three, he is one of thousands who have touched my life as a professional and as a person. I have been with them as a therapist initially but more as collogue now (http://www.hindu.com/op/2008/07/06/stories/2008070651551400.htm). He called me last month; he invited me to join his celebrations of recovery and joy of being sober. There are thousands of ex-drug users who have been living sober and a self directed life by helping others through their life skills and knowledge about peer led-drug rehabilitation tools. Mr. Sven-Olov Carlsson President, IOGT International along with Jenny Gustafsson happened to attend their Nada peer led Community leader graduation program during his first ever visit to India in year 2006 .
Amar Singh is a multi talented person; he is a singer, performs Hindu rituals in the community and runs a musical group and having extraordinary resilience and commitment to his whole person recovery from alcohol and all other mood altering drugs. He wants to start his own peer led drug rehabilitation center; he approached me many times for the same but I am unable to find a donor for his project.
As far as Delhi and adjoining states are concerned a one year training in peer support counseling funded by the UNODC (ROSA) and organized by me as then Director of Delhi Police Foundation at the Sarai Rohilla Police Station in Delhi was a new beginning for many recovering addicts. They were trained in various aspects of addiction treatment and rehabilitation management.
As a Times of India journalist commented, the participants in the year long training program had joined the program after graduating from the “University of Pain”. Well “Pain” is the key word. The pain of addiction gone through by an addict and also his family members as a care giver can only be truly fathomed by someone who has experienced it. Such recovering peers were shown a road map to use the skills and knowledge they acquired during the training program and to apply in peer support initiatives later through training groups and advocacy networks for an Identity as service provider and lead a core team of professionals and peer counselors and community managers. Many of those trained and their followers did translate their acquired vocational skills in to a series of peer-led rehabilitation centers which may not fit in to medical model. A number of such centers started functioning in NCR Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, UP and Rajasthan.
The recovering peer support counselors soon turned into being social entrepreneurs serving large members of addicts. The social model put forth by these recovering addicts is based on celebration of life and recovery. They did seek help of various Government agencies, health professionals and NGOs like National Institute of Social Defence, SPYM and Nada India Foundation where ever necessary to deliver the services as per the minimum standards of care guidelines of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.
On this occasion of International Day against drug abuse, I wish them (Recovering, in treatment or out of the treatment) a long and healthy life because there is no place for drug in the community.