From the desk of a psychologist!

Posts tagged ‘addiction’

Addiction in India: The War Goes On!

I am so thankful to Aamir Khan for giving voice to an  important & relevant major cause, which exists in our country but no one is willing to listen. I am an addiction counselor, who came back to my country with huge dreams of  changing the world of addiction treatment here. But am not ashamed today to accept  that I left my struggle because it was full of hurdles.  I am so grateful that today after watching Mr. Khan’s episode of Satyamev Jayate, my candle of hope has started burning again.

I have worked in various addiction treatment setups in India and it is sad but a fact, that most of them are only there to mint money. No one has a clue of what works. Because people are needy they trust them which is then misused. I was a part of this system. It made me question my integrity and disturbed me. I wanted to help but didn’t know how. I realized how much it means to me to find the answers. I traveled to the hub of addiction study, United States of America, and completed my chemical dependency certification and worked there for some time. It helped me understand this dubious disease in a better way.

I came back with huge dreams and hit the reality pretty soon. It was a WAR against the age-old mindset. I gave up but with time I had learnt one important lesson that I am not here to change the nation but to give something back to the society. Even if one person learns something from this blog, I would think that my goal is achieved. I have this powerful tool of my blog today and this post goes for the passion of my life… Addiction. Though in the show the talk was only about alcohol but here we are going to talk about addiction, whether alcohol or any other chemical ( marijuana, cigarette, cocaine etc.). The disease remains the same.

We have a very sorry state of addiction in our country. There are so many prevalent misconceptions & myths that there is no help for it.  I would like to put some light on this topic through an Indian perspective:   

  • Addiction is a disease not a bad habit or moral issue: Why in a party some people can be decent drinkers while a few make a fool of themselves. People actually wait for them to bring entertainment in a lifeless party.

I will give an example to make you understand it in a better way. Two friends decide to go for a drink. Let’s say Mr. X & Mr. Y.

Mr. X suffers from addiction while Mr. Y has no such disease. When they have the drink, Mr. Y may enjoy it but for Mr. X it is a new never  felt  before state. Mr. X is never going to forget about it.

  • Chasing the dragon: Then the chase starts. An addict, every time when goes under influence, it is with the wish of reaching the same state it felt the first time. This never happens only the substance keeps on increasing.
  • Tolerance is not good: How many times have you heard someone boasting that I can hold my drink . The biggest indicator of chemical dependency is increased tolerance of the substance.
  • The different stages of the disease: It’s an ongoing treadmill which ranges from experimentation, use, abuse to dependency on the substance. If you have the disease and you introduce your drug of choice to your body, this is how the disease will progress.
  • Hit the rock bottom:

Tony Robbins once said there are two things that motivate people to make dramatic changes in their lives: inspiration and desperation. In the journey of addiction recovery, there needs to be a kick which can stop us from the journey of  self-destruction.

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We and our Addictions

Whenever we use the word addiction, it is generally associated with a substance. The picture which comes to our mind is of someone in a secluded place, in a grave kind of state, leading a sorry life.    

But, the addiction I am going to talk about today is something closer to home. I am going to talk about the thing or behavior which is beyond our control, which we understand we need to get rid of but somehow aren’t able to bring ourselves to do it. It can be our addiction to junk food, getting involved with the wrong kind of guy, not able to manage time effectively and so on.

Before going on, think of a behavior or thing which you are making constant resolutions to change or give up but it is not happening.

I’ll take the  example of  ‘loosing your cool on a loved one ‘, even when we know we shouldn’t do it as it hurts us too, we are not able to control ourselves. We have done our share of talking to ourselves, made a pact that the next time if a situation like this is going to rise, we won’t repeat what we did the last time…. But the same or worse happens when the real situation comes. It feels it is beyond our control, something which is not in our hands.

The reason for the need for change in behavior or thing usually is a consequence or a negative outcome we are facing due to it. We face the results, make promises to ourselves on not going on the same path again but everything falls flat on our face as soon as we are in front of our problem behavior or thing.

Now, picture a person, you call an addict. Is there a difference between him and us? You’ll say certainly, for being an addict there need to be a substance.

You are right but what about the behavior difference?

  • An addict has no control over the substance, the same is the situation with us, as far as, the behavior we need to work on is concerned.
  • An addict is not able to do anything about his addiction even after consequences and same goes for us.
  • An addict operates on immediate gratification and we are not far behind. We indulge in the behavior because it is something which is giving us immediate relief though it may hurt in the long run.
  • As an addict we are also developing a tolerance for that behavior or thing. The intensity keeps on getting worse.

It is perfectly fine to be a little doubtful about your addiction after this. Don’t worry this is not a post to make you feel bad about yourself but the aim is to challenge ourselves, to work on us and grow as an individual.

Even if we accept that we are powerless over a certain behavior or thing, what is the next step. I’ll say, something very similar to the treatment of chemical dependency. You should not mess with this certain behavior.

I have seen, in the course of my practice, it’s a vicious cycle. Until and unless you are not in it you are fine but the moment you indulge in the behavior/thing, you lose all control. You become an audience and witness yourself repeating the behavior/thing again and again. Enable yourself by not experimenting with this certain problem.

Going back to our example, of losing your cool on a loved one. If you feel a situation which could make you upset is rising, walk away. Don’t think that let me convey this message in a decent way and leave. Because chances are you’ll start on the vicious cycle, and won’t be able to make your point and leave but end up losing your temper again.

I believe God has made us the master of certain things but at the same time we have our challenges. This is the difference between a common man and a saint. We just need to accept the things which are beyond us and leave it to those who could handle it.

Deal with your addiction and stay sober…Renew your Spirit!

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