Let me share with you my learnings now.
- Stay focused on here and now. Give your best. And the dream will unfold.
This is a valuable lesson. As a junior most resident in Psychiatry, I did not know that this work will get institutionalized into a ISO approved and President’s Gold Medal winning organization. But I tried to give my best by being genuine, innovative and hard working. Even today in my monthly visits to Muktangan my role is ‘Value addition’ by ‘generating ideas and alternatives’.
- The dream if shared by many is more likely to come in reality.
Had the dream of working in this field been accepted and owned by Sunanda, Anil, Mukta and all my colleagues in Muktangan it would not have persisted for three decades now. I should not have ‘exclusive rights’ over any dream. When multiple people contribute it gets evolved…….and gets evolved in a better design.
- Its not only therapies but relationships help in the recovery of addicts.
There are hundreds and thousands of examples of this. As I am writing, one of my recovered patients, has won a prestigious prize in a technical area of film making. He mailed me the news and his photograph. It’s a story of an emotional turmoil for him and his family during his active days of addiction, and then the efforts for recovery. I have been with them in all those days also as a family friend, not only as a professional. I have actually never ever counted these relationships but each has been extremely special for me. The relationship spans across three or even four generations in a family. These bonds have been my forte in all these years of helping addicts.
- Right help at the Right time gives stable recovery.
Definition of ‘Right time’ is the internal unconditional genuine wish of a person to get out of addiction. The person/s who is/are helping have hardly any control over it but by giving non-judgmental support they can be helpful. ‘Right Help’ is the factor within control for the helping person. But the ability to walk that extra mile with the patient and family is important. There are countless incidents when I have crossed all limits as a ‘professional’ and helped such persons and families with whatever I could.
Just today I met one of my ex-addict patients of gambling. He shared with me his ‘Right moment to change’ when almost thirty years back I had confronted him with his reality. Deep in financial debts and defiant as a determined hawk he challenged my plan of treatment, by as asking me, “If I don’t agree and follow what you are saying . . . what else you can tell me?”
“Go up the terrace of this building, jump from it and end this game . . .” I had told him with a cold look and flat tone. But by this time I had walked that extra yard with him and his family so he knew that my intention was to see him recover . . . And so is he for thirty years now!
- Leaving the addictive substance is the first step towards recovery. Becoming a better human being is the essence of recovery.
I learnt this from many of my patients but most remarkably from a colleague and close guide of mine. His name is Stany Sequera. Uncle Stan who is no more resides in my conscience along with Sunanda and my father. He was an alcoholic. He lost his job in a company called Larsen and Toubro Ltd. He recovered with the help of AA. He started reemployment with the same company as a addiction counsellor and retired after mentoring numerous patients. From the deck of AA he was instrumental in guiding hundreds of recoveries. I met him first as a senior AA member and then as a senior colleague and guide in the formative years of IPH (Institute for Psychological Health). I plan to write about his impact on me separately some day but he was one person I saw who had changed himself immensely and had become not only more evolved but enlightened.
I have seen my colleagues in Muktangan, evolve like this. As I am writing this, the government of Maharashtra has conferred the Vyasanmukti Seva Puraskar of this year to Prasad Dhawale, our senior staff member at Muktangan. He is one of the chief architects of our follow-up programme across the state. His work is so exhaustive that for our follow-up meetings in South Maharashtra sometimes out active workers have to engage Theatres with huge sitting capacities. Very humble in demeanor but determined in his resolve to help; Tatya (we call him fondly) is a unique worker who was admitted in Muktangan many years back as a patient. Similarly Datta Shrikhande another colleague has become a ‘body builder’ in the age group of ‘Above Fifty’ and also a contestant amongst top fifty in TV show ‘Master chef.’
- Recovery from addiction requires ‘Network’ of support.
Over the years, Muktangan has evolved its much acclaimed model of comprehensive treatment with extensive web-work of regular follow-up centres. It runs regular training programmes for our ex-patient turned activists across the state to empower them. There is a similar network of Sahachari group (wives of alcoholics) across the state and a special occupational rehabilitation unit for them at Muktangan. We have marriage counseling programme titled ‘Sahajeevan.’ For children of alcoholics we have support group called ‘Ankur’. We have regular events and get-togethers at all major cities. When Baba, Mukta or me visit a city a follow-up meeting is organized there for us. At all ‘slippary days’ such as 31st December every year, hundreds of our recovering addicts come and stay at Muktangan for two to three days. We publish a trimonthly, magazine titled ‘Anandyatri’ that reaches homes of our patients. Now there are numerous Whatsapp groups of our patients and counselors. All of us are called with a Relationship . . . Anil is Baba, I am Anand kaka, Mukta is Tai, Prasad is Tatya, Prafulla Mohite our coordinator for woman-addicts programme is Phula atya. This is unique. In the days when interventions are becoming more impersonal (called professional) we have been able to integrate the therapeutic interventions with optimum transference.
- From Black holes of human fallibility to the blessed light of human development.
My journey in the field of De-addiction had consolidated my belief in human goodness. From the ashes of dark destruction the life-force can resurge with such a sustained and consistent way . . . really amazing. Baba says, “Miracles is an everyday affair at Muktangan.” I have experienced this so many times. Not only my trust in human goodness stands firmly reiterated, this journey makes me humble. My contributions at most times, timely and significant, are a drop in the ocean of the gravity of this problem. Yet when you see, it makes some difference, you feel satisfied. The journey made me think deeply about association of different themes such as REBT, AA recovery program, Spirituality, Neurosciences and gave me many fundamental insights about human nature and recovery from addictions.
The area of de-addiction in mental health is supposed to be extremely tough for a therapist . . . Yes, by all means, it is . . . But the happiness and satisfaction it gives you is so unique that you start really believing what Sunanda used to say, “There is no hopeless case in addictions.”