Once an Addict, now a Counselor

He was treated and he is now treating others. This is a man who has been clean for the last four years, with a slim and slender hope he got from the rehabilitation center. For 41 year-old Dechen Wangdi from Paro, the tryst with alcohol began at a very early stage in life, when he was just around 6-7 years. Customary to Bhutanese traditions, he was treated to the real taste of alcohol when he visited other houses in his village during congregations and celebrations. He started abusing marijuana at the prime age of 16. Unknown to him, he had entered the stage in addiction called the “addiction shift,” where addicts usually try out other varieties of intoxicants like tablets. “It gave me a certain sense of confidence and to face and talk with my friends, teachers and relatives,” he says. “I was a shy person and in order for me to stand equal with my peers in the crowd, drugs and alcohol gave me that much needed springboard.” That left him languishing, as he could not qualify the class X board exams. Back home, he got married and helped his parents and in-laws in the farm. But negativity was all around. The addict-turned-counselor said that whatever he used to earn doing menial works in the village was spent on drugs. When he ran out of cash, he resorted to lie to his parents and then one lie led to another. He got a chance to redeem himself and joined the militia in 2003, after which he was offered a job by the government. However, three years into his working life, the old demon in him returned. He was in conflict with the law. He was imprisoned for three years. But the one thing that still haunts him the most is hurting his godmother, his maternal aunt who bred him, caressed him and loved him. Out of intoxication, he blurted the most hurtful of words to his aunt which he regrets even today. He is still waiting for that day when he can face his godmother and seek her forgiveness. General people conceive ‘disease’ as some sort of pain and malfunction in the human body or organs. How¬ever, Dechen says that addiction is a disease, a chronic disease which cannot be seen but something which is progressive in nature inside the human brain. As a consequence, it creates disharmony between friends, within family members, and discords in the society. And just as a car needs a mechanic, addicts too need rehabilitation, and there is nothing embarrassing or shameful in seeking treatment. He did it, and just like the name of the program, gave a U turn to his life.


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