It saddens me to see a lack of awareness of addiction while interacting with people from different walks of life. Just the other day, I came across a woman whose husband is a chronic alcoholic and was surprised at how she had been dealing with the situation. First, she took him to a “Baba” who asked her to perform certain rites and rituals and when that did not work, she went on to try out Ayurvedic medicines.

When this too was not working, she found a doctor, who put the man on certain drugs which were meant to take care of his craving and also stabilising his mood. This too did not really help. What happened was the man started enjoying the so-called “euphoric high” the anti-depressants caused and soon began to abuse them.

Very few people are aware of addiction being a ‘chronic disease’ that ravages not only the body but even the soul. According to the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, it affects a person in three dimensional ways: physical craving, mingled with obsessive thought, resulting in spiritual bankruptcy. It has everything to do with how the addicts THINK and how they perceive life to be. Obviously, their thinking is convoluted and irrational.

Alcoholics who begin with one drink will not be able to stop with just two drinks and would then go on to drink more and more until they start behaving obnoxiously or just simply pass out.

This pattern continues until their existence becomes completely unmanageable in terms of their personal, professional and social life. Ultimately, either they are forced to seek help or their family members and friends strongly urge them to.

And even then the alcoholic will not want to acknowledge that he or she has a problem. This is because the most predominant characteristic of the disease of addiction is DENIAL.

And then begin the excuses leading to a “blame game”. “My wife does not understand me, or, my boss and friends do not understand me,” and, finally, he or she will blame God for giving him/her a raw deal in life when he/she runs are out of excuses.

Unfortunately, the younger generation is also unaware of the perils of addiction — when the pleasure turns into a habit and the habit into addiction. Here we are also talking about behavioural addiction like the Internet, porn, gambling, eating and sex.

Does any of this sound familiar? Now, the good news is that THERE IS A CURE! Addicts need to undergo a complete change in their thinking. This metamorphosis can take place when they are made aware of their problem. Therefore, helping them acknowledge their addiction with the support of a professional and compassionate team. There is also support like Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous where addicts meet others who have managed to come out of their addiction and are leading normal lives.

Once they have undergone initial treatment for their withdrawal, also known as detoxification, from alcohol or drugs, they could try out these support groups. There are Rehabilitation Centres if addicts are not comfortable attending meetings where they are taught how to once again lead normal productive lives following a structured programme. It is rather unfortunate that our society attaches a stigma to all kinds of addictions which, in turn, discourages addicts, making it difficult for them to accept the fact that they have a problem.

I implore all those people out there who lack an understanding of addiction not to deal with the situation on their own as it does not always work that way. The families end up being “enablers” by suppressing and not addressing the issue, inadvertently, encouraging addiction. And therein lies the problem. Help may be closer than you think when you reach out in the right direction.

(The writer, who was once an addict himself, has found The AARIT Recovery Centre, Chennai, to help victims start a new life. His email: svermasharad@gmail.com, info@aaritcare.com, Website: www.aaritcare.com)

More In: Open Page | Opinion