With alcohol abuse rapidly increasing in Jaipur despite the Rajasthan government’s best efforts — including an 8 p.m. shutdown deadline for all liquor shops in the State — the Catholic Diocese of Jaipur has set up the city’s first alcohol de-addiction centre.

Nav Jeevan Kendra started operations this weekend in Lalarpura, near the city’s Heerapura locality.

While “high-seekers” in Rajasthan’s western parts — Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jalore and Pali among others — are more hooked to opium and its derivatives, those in the rest of the State, including Jaipur, are under the grip of alcoholism.

“The church took up the cause as alcohol abuse has become rampant in the city and what it worrisome is the number of youth taking to this,” Reverend Oswald Lewis, Bishop of the Jaipur Diocese, said, inaugurating the centre on Saturday in the presence of medical professionals, religious persons and social workers.

The Diocese cites the World Health Organisation’s categorisation of alcoholism as a “sickness” rather than a “moral flaw.”

Father Raymond Coelho, who was instrumental in setting up the centre, says it has large rooms and dormitories along with a huge lecture hall. It also boasts of yoga and mediation centres, besides a modern kitchen.

“This is one of the best equipped centres for alcohol addicts I have come across anywhere in India or even the world,” says Father Joe Pereira, de-addiction expert and recipient of Padma Shri.

“We follow the Minnesota model of recovery here,” says Fr. Pereira, whose ‘Kripa Foundation’ runs 74 such centres worldwide.

The Minnesota model is based on the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), an international volunteer body committed to the cause of de-addiction since 1935.

Though not officially, the AA movement helped popularise the “disease model” of alcoholism. It came up with the “Twelve Steps” programme under which members admit to being powerless over alcohol addiction and seek “higher help.”

Tip of the iceberg

“Alcohol addiction is a serious problem and what is known outside is only a fraction of the real situation. While there is no cure, there is ample scope for arresting the habit,” said Dr. Harsh Udawat, associated with the city’s Santokbha Durlabhji Memorial Hospital (SDMH).

Yogesh Durlabhji, a city jeweller and managing partner of SDMH, is one of the supporters of the initiative.

Admitting that social taboos were stopping families from seeking help, the Diocese urged the medial fraternity and the public to help carry forward the fight against alcoholism.

Catholic church has set up the centre as alcohol abuse has become rampant in the city

It will follow Minnesota model of recovery, which is based on philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous