Let’s clear the misconception of drug addiction
What is 'Drug Addiction?
Is it a moral sickness?
Is it lack of 'will power'?
Is it a crime?
Is it a sin?
No absolutely not.
Then what is it ?
Earlier people believed that addiction is the result of psychological disorder but now after extensive research, it has been established that addiction is a disease which require medical and psychological treatment.
But the question is what kind of treatment, and who will provide it ? The answer to the second question, at least, is only too clear: nobody is providing enough treatment to meet the demand, let alone the need.
On the contrary, without treating the disease, any other alternatives like changing jobs, getting the addicts married, providing financial aid, putting them behind bars, etc will not help the addict to stop taking drugs or alcohol.
Unless he totally stops taking alcohol or drugs, his conditions will get worse day by day.
The disease of addiction, during the process of treatment by the patient can get help to keep away from alcohol/drugs totally, therefore total abstinence is essential and it is the only solution to the disease of addition.
When asked about the growing menace of drug and alcohol abuse in the Manipur, Pathickaden, who received, training in the treatment of chemical dependency diseases in Thunderbay, Canada said :- 'Perhaps the root cause is our inability to view addiction as a disease. And I consider the Americans to have played a vital role here to have given the world Alcoholics Anonymous and now, the Narcotic Anonymous. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Medical Association regard addiction as a major health problem. It is a progressive illness which not only traps the victims but enmeshes his associates at all levels'.
“It is only the awareness that addiction is a disease that will enable addicts to do something about it and counter social rejection”. In fact, many persons are goaded into it simply by this social contempt and lack of understanding.
However, if addiction has been understood as a disease then this awareness shall help in many ways.
It removes the stigma attached to the addiction. So, more people would come forward for treatment.
The addict need not be blamed for being unable to control his drinking or drug taking. He can ask for help without any hesitation.
When the family realises that the addict has a disease, they will stop thinking in terms of punishing or preaching. Also, the family does not feel bitter, angry or guilty. They can support the addict to get treated towards becoming a normal person.
Community and family could also help in early identification of the disease.
In conclusion, people have many wrong ideas about the treatment of addiction. The following point will clarify such mistaken notions.
No electric shock is given
No surgery/ operation is done
Patients are not 'locked up'.
Patients are not put with others who are mentally ill.
The author is a Social Activist for People Who Use Drugs (PUD)