August- the month from whence a slew of festivals begin in India from Raksha Bandhan, Onam, Ganesh festival , Dussehra, Diwali, Eid, Christmas etc.
India is a melting pot of cultures- however, one culture that seems to be alarmingly on the rise is that of popping the cork for every celebration pan socio- economic groups and cultures.
Where there is alcohol there is alcoholism, where there are drugs there is drug addiction. It is the addictive personality of the individual that leads to indulgence in substances to the extent that they get addicted to it. Then ,it is the substance that takes control over the personality and every physical and psychological action of the individual ; at the same time maintaining the illusion that it can be controlled by the individual. It makes the person think, act and behave like a person afflicted by a mental ailment. As a consequence , most times they are mis diagnosed with having psychiatric ailments like Bi polar disorder, psychosis or schizophrenia etc. This mis diagnosis results in the person being medicated wrongly in the name of addiction treatment , a label is applied and the person is discriminated and ostracized by family and society as being mentally unstable – hence ,often treated as a non entity .The person afflicted is thus stripped of all shreds and semblances of dignity.
The cries for help go un – recognized . The person who drinks and uses and falls in a stupor on the road or in his plush bed or lashes out is also trying to control his usage. He is no longer able to use the way he wants to and it is only to keep away pain . Unlike other chronic ailments that evoke sympathy and compassion in people , this ailment evokes disgust, hatred and fear due to lack of awareness and lack of the desire to invest the time and effort to enable these suffering individuals to turn around their lives and get beyond their addictions. Resultantly, they become victims of being picked up like animals and dumped in involuntary facilities where they are heavily medicated , labelled as being psychiatrically unstable and do not see the light of freedom for months or even years. Is this actual treatment or is it “treatment” to allay the fears and anxiety of the family who also require as much therapy? The treatment in such facilities meted out to those afflicted by dependency on substances is many times inhuman and animalistic as evidenced by articles in newspapers , the latest being wherein in one center, the patients were hung upside down as “ treatment” .
Those afflicted are extremely intelligent, socially manipulative and are unable to deal with and manage their emotions. It is this last trait that results in repeated indulgence in usage under the illusion of the temporary relief from emotional pain.
In reality, they require an environment that is loving, non judgmental [ they judge and demean themselves worse than anyone one else can] , accepting and compassionate. This is a space where they can be themselves without fear or shame- for, these are the only circumstances where they can accept themselves, begin loving themselves , at the same time taking responsibility for their lives and learn to enjoy living and reach a stage within themselves of not finding the need to use substances. This enables them to own their dignity.
Such an ambience is provided by us at Anatta and we have found through our experience that this is the only crucible in which real change can take birth and grow.
So let us welcome and celebrate this festive season with love and compassion towards ourselves first and our fellow beings.