Drug addicts are humans

It is important everyone involved talks from the stand point of compassion and understanding
"They prefer to figure deaf and dumb when asked to report the factors which led to the crime. Drug addicts are not untouchables; they are not children of lesser God. "
"They prefer to figure deaf and dumb when asked to report the factors which led to the crime. Drug addicts are not untouchables; they are not children of lesser God. "Special arrangement

During our daily discourse, we hear about different crimes being committed by drug addicts; some of which are of heinous nature. When these stories are floated on social media we see lot of anger against these drug addicts. Some posts reflect that they should be hanged in full public glare; as a deterrent.

Even the blood relations of the drug addict and his close relatives show no sympathy towards him and suggest severe punishment for him. News reporters hear one side of the story.

Everyone is judging on the face value of the reported crime without knowing the background story. Even the religious scholars during Friday sermons show no sympathy for these drug addicts ,and direct the masses to wage war against these hapless souls at the social and psychological front. The basic question is why so much hate and discrimination against these drug addicts.

There is a term in sociology called as bystanders’ effect where people choose to be mute spectators and watch the oppression behind curtains without intervening. When some unfortunate incident happens they crawl out from their apartment to show pseudo sympathy and speak against the criminal.

Their timely intervention and sincere concern would have avoided the unfortunate incident. They prefer to figure deaf and dumb when asked to report the factors which led to the crime. Drug addicts are not untouchables; they are not children of lesser God.

We should not look at them with an eye of hatred; if they are marginalized and pushed away from all sides who will accommodate them. There are unreported stories of blood relations who overdose addicts deliberately to get rid of them and then present their  death as a case of cardiac arrest to maintain pseudo public image. The problem is the disease of addiction, not the person in its grip.

I shall report one case history of a drug addict which was my respondent during my research. He was being prosecuted for injuring his father gravely. When I met this boy initially I found him very aggressive and hostile. He was not ready to share any information.

After telling him he is my little brother, I visited him along with my whole family. My wife served him home-made food. The boy burst into tears. He narrated his ordeal to me. To quote him: “One day  during harsh winters  I had come to University of Kashmir to appear in some competitive examination, with my  limited pocket money I purchased some sweets from Hazratbal for my parents.

I did not eat anything. Back home instead of serving me tea and warm welcome I was served criticism and verbal abuse by my parents. When I handed over the packet of sweets to them, they threw it into the dustbin. They were cold and normative in their behavior. In a fit of madness I hit the copper tumbler which accidentally hit my father.

The step mother went outside and screamed that the son attempted to murder his father. That day changed my life. I never attended the Higher Secondary again. I ran away from home and crossed the other side of the fence. I became a habitual offender and was labeled a person-in-conflict-with law.

Throughout the years I was neglected emotionally. I was constantly being pulled apart by my step mother. She humiliated me in public on more than one occasion.

I loved my father very much and had an unpunctuated faith that he will defend me when others choose to be mute spectators. Before the police officials my father maintained criminal silence and endorsed the version of his wife which hurt me deeply. Even my close relatives did not hear the knock of my bruised heart.

No one bothered to pay a visit to me in the police station. When I was released I did not go to my home but wandered aimlessly. Initially I became the target of soft drugs and slowly to hard drugs.

Post Counseling one of the hardest things was learning that I was worth recovery; If you can quit for a day, you can quit for a lifetime. I understood myself only after I destroyed myself. And only in the process of fixing myself, did I know who I really was.”

I was associated with this boy for almost two years during my research. By  way of counseling and strong will power this boy worked as an apprenticeship in a motor workshop at Babdemb and finally became a trained motor mechanic to earn a dignified livelihood.

I had documented another case history of a drug addict who died due to induced overdose of drugs from his own family but the case was reported as cardiac arrest. This drug addict was a beautiful boy who took active part in co-curricular activities.

He was very social and caring for others. His father was an alcoholic and a gambler. He divorced his wife and took the custody of this boy. Both parents remarried. The father resorted to sustained emotional torture of this boy. He used to abuse his divorced wife in-front of his son. At school this boy was not accommodated by his teachers, they showed no sympathy towards him. He became a school dropout.

Finally he was caught into the tentacles of drug addiction. The father was more concerned towards step sisters, they enjoyed each facility, this boy had to beg even for meals. No one in the family, even his close relatives, talked to him in a nice way.

They ignored him like a non-living entity. His sobs did not melt the heart of his cold blooded father. He continued to abuse him while appreciating his daughters. He was an odd man out in family.

Once he moved to his ancestral house where his uncle also lived. He was there for weeks surviving on biscuits and water, but his uncle or his cousins did not bother to invite him for a lunch or dinner. At his death crocodile tears were shed, big feast was cherished on his fourth day of death and after just 10 days father started the construction work on his new house.       

Whether the drug abuser is a close friend, spouse, parent, child, or other family member, it is easy for their addiction to take over your life. It can pile stress upon stress, put you on a litmus test, strain your bank balance, and leave you tormented by feelings of guilt, shame, anger, fear, frustration, and grief. But there is help available.

While you cannot force someone to tackle their addiction, your unconditional love, support, and patience can play a key part in their recovery. Starting a conversation with someone about their drug addiction is never going to be  an easy task, but it is important you unlock with a  key of   compassion and understanding.

Remember, no one sets out to become an addict. Drug abuse is often a misguided attempt to cope with hurting issues or mental health problems. Sustained stress tends to fuel addictive behavior, so criticizing, demeaning, or shaming them in public will only push your loved one away and may even encourage them to seek further comfort in drug abuse.

Discovering someone you love has a drug problem can generate feelings of shock, fear, and anger, especially if it is your child or teen who is addicted. These strong emotions can make communicating with a drug user even more challenging. So, it important to select  a time when you are  both calm, sober, and free of distractions to talk.

Offer your help and support without being judgmental. Do not delay. Display tremendous patience in handling a drug addict.  You do not  have to wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom—to get arrested, lose their job, suffer a medical emergency, or publicly humiliate them-selves. The earlier an addiction is treated, the better.

Even when you do not agree with the drug addict , take the time to listen to what they have to say, without trying to argue or contradict them. The more your cared one feels heard, the more they will  see you as supportive, someone they can confide in. Offer them information about how they can address their drug problem—whether that is calling a helpline, talking to a doctor or counselor.       

Many people feel a sense of shame when confronted and will try to deny they have a problem. Do not argue with them; just revisit the issue another time. Avoid trying to lecture, threaten, bribe, or punish the drug addict. Getting angry or making emotional appeals will only add to the substance users’ feelings of guilt and reinforce their compulsion to use. Do not expect a single conversation to fix the problem.

There is no quick fix solution to overcome addiction. It may take several conversations for them to even acknowledge they have a problem, the first step on the road to recovery. If you decide to stage a family meeting or intervention, it is important everyone involved talks from the platform of compassion and understanding.

I know of a case when a drug addict attended a marriage function, one of his aunt thought it is the right moment to settle old animosities. Several years ago the mother of the drug addict had made some sarcastic remarks against the lady.

This lady started spitting venom and told the drug addict publicly that now who will marry his sisters.  Encourage your loved one to seek help. While some people are able to quit drugs on their own, the more help and support a person has, the better their chances of success.

Offer to sit with your loved ones while they call a helpline or accompany them to a doctor’s appointment, counseling session, or peer support group meeting. . To achieve long-term recovery, it’s vital they tackle both their addiction and their mental health issue at the same time. Encourage them to explore new interests.

Quitting drugs can leave your loved one with a lot of extra time to fill. To help them avoid slipping back into old habits, encourage them to develop new interests—ones that don’t involve drugs but do add meaning to their life. Think volunteering, taking up a new sport or hobby, enrolling in a distance education class, or spending time in nature hiking or camping, for example—anything that doesn’t generate a trigger to use.

Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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