I was admitted in a rehabilitation center in Chitwan around 12 years ago hoping to recover from my use of narcotic substances. I was there for 1.5 -2 years. After leaving the the center, although I had left other forms of narcotics, I started getting into alcohol. My habit got both severe and chronic. I was even jailed for 19.5 months about five years ago. My habits were affecting me and my family’s life severely. I fell into depression. I would drink alcohol starting early in the morning.
I am glad one of my relatives became proactive. My brother’s friend knew about Sano Paila and encouraged my brother to pursue recovery for me through Sano Paila. My brother went to find out and liked Sano Paila’s activities and admitted me to Sano Paila’s Action for Addiction (AFA) – Community Rehabilitation Center, Birgunj a year and a half ago.
Initially I knew no one in the area as I had always been away from Birgunj. I found Bikash sir the then Coordinator of Birgunj AFA very encouraging. Ajit Rai and Deep Raj Verma who were also working for the Birgunj AFA were extremely supportive. They encouraged me and made me realize that the treatment is really for myself. Around 2.5 months into my time at Sano Paila, I realized and decided that I should continue with Sano Paila. I had both the relationship and drive to make a difference. Post graduation from the AFA center, I continued to follow the core leaders and staff of the AFA centers. I continued to both support Sano Paila and receive support from Sano Paila.
My family owns a few manufacturing operations. We produce revolving chairs, bags and key chains among others. Although I could have supported my family in running and scaling the business up, I have chosen to continue working for Sano Paila. I was instigated as the Janakpur Coordinator for the Action for Addiction center two months ago. Here, I have worked hard to reach out to clients who need help in recovering from narcotics problem and behavioral issues. While our initial goal was to get about 7 clients per month, after I arrived I have recruited 11 clients each month. To enable this, I would meet people one to one, go to shops and distribute our cards at places like Jaleshwor, Janakpurdham and Mahendranagar. We also reached out to young people in schools and campus. The most recent one was at the Care Nursing Campus where we did an awareness campaign on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse.
My behavior, attitude as well as my reputation have significantly improved and so has my social standing. My family that used to be ashamed of me, would avoid making me part of festivals and social events, and had basically given up on me and now abandoned me, have now accepted me and are proud of me. I can now stand up in the society. It feels like a magic. It is because I know of the troubles my family went through because of me, I want to help my clients so that their families can be happier and peaceful. I still have some friends who are involved with narcotics. I have been reaching out to them and have managed to get some to pursue rehabilitation. I avoid company of others who pose the risk of pulling me back to my old behavior. I will continue to work for Sano Paila despite having other options as it has left a very positive impact in my life. This place has helped me not only to recover but also feel accomplished and improve in self-esteem and social standing. At the moment at our Janakpur center, we are providing treatment to 22 clients and 29 have already been discharged. I hope that through my involvement, many more will be able to recover and lead better lives with better possibilities.
(Ajittam Pandey is the Action For Addiction (AFA) Program Coordinator at Sano Paila in Janakpur. Story dated: July 2015)