Wednesday, October 7, 2015

At a Rehab Centre - Why do they throw away a life that was going hunky-dory?

When one life begins to change, there are other lives too entwined with it that change. 
There could be a distressed mother waiting for her only son to give up drugs and substance and take charge of life. There could be a distraught father in his twilight years hoping his alcoholic son would again rise from the well of despair and bring stability and warmth to his life.
Let us not turn away disapprovingly from someone just getting up on his feet again after valiant efforts. Let us create a positive-thinking full-of-optimism society.
For some parent, when it keeps 'raining', a warm, encouraging smile from us when the adult child 'rises' from a life of nothingness and despair, could be the 'ray' of hope.

The first part of this series appears at A basketful of experiences at a rehab.

Most of the time an addict is conscious of his folly and yearns to return to his previous way of life. In the regular group counseling sessions at the rehab centre I visit now and then, I’ve come face to face with facts that are as much startling as they are thought-provoking.

A score of us sat in a circle in the dormitory. It was the routine group counseling session that happens every day of the 365 days of the year. A young twenty-something surprisingly shared very matter-of-factly how he is assured of a life of “a bed of roses”, of course only if he allowed his love for alcohol to be replaced by love for work. His father, a rich, successful builder has chalked out everything for his son to follow and flourish. The young man knew if he didn’t mend his ways soon, his would be a from-riches-to-rags story. His voice had the desire to become “clean” and a tinge of helplessness. A nice guy from a nice family, his good manners from a good upbringing showed in the sessions.  A silent struggle raged on inside him as he couldn’t nail any event or anybody as a pretext for having fallen victim to alcohol. He wasn’t keen to know when he would be allowed out of the rehab. Nor was he sure about how much self-control he would have then to be at an arm’s length from liquor bars. It’s because even a single visit to the liquor bar would mean going-back-to-square-one. With a decent education behind him he knew the chilling truth that life doesn’t give chances indefinitely to an idler and that time was running out.

It was a group counseling session and I talked about transformation. What was over was gone, and was no longer in our hands. Instead of mulling over the past, each one of us has the power deep inside to stop looking back and be fiercely determined to stay positive and do something constructive with our life. Having an ambition is a healthy sign, but let that not lead to a great hurry to do things too fast, so fast that your dream cannot materialize and you give up and go back to your old ways. The mantra is to take things step by step.  He was one amongst some of the score of counselees seated there in a circle who began thinking about what I said gently but firmly. On one hand there was a bright future as a builder and on the other there was this bottle he was slave to. His was a clear case of how an idle mind could wreak havoc on one’s life. He was sure about not wanting to “end on the road as drunkards do”, but wasn’t sure of how he could tame his mind.

The rehab has its strict schedule of making the inmates follow a routine every day, 365 days of the year. The day starts as early as five, ending before ten in the night. In between meals, there would be time allotted for tasks in the kitchen or elsewhere, group counseling, individual counseling by counselor/psychiatrist, medical check-up, self-introspection and diary-writing, brief interactions with other inmates, confrontation with family as and when applicable followed by introspection in isolation and yoga, not necessarily in that order. There is no special treatment accorded to anyone. It is indeed a humbling experience for those who come from the higher strata of society. But that is how it is meant to be. Whoever comes there as an inmate, has to go through the same regimen. That is how it is supposed to be an eye-opener for all, particularly for the ones who have it all but throw it away for the sake of alcohol or substance.

When I left the place, I had this uneasy question in my mind – Once he is out of the place, who would win in this tug-of-war - His conscience that is still talking with him or his carefree, lazy self that is threatening to overshadow his inner self? But I was glad that he was still very clear about reality and conscious of his tendency to forget about it all suddenly. This strict timetable would take care of him and give him the badly-needed jolt to begin taking charge of his life without his “Dad” having to run around looking for ways to bring him on track. 
A new world is beckoning him. He would work on himself, I knew somehow.

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