Nijaat- Freedom From Drug & Alcohol Addiction

by Sam Thomas (India)

The work started in 2002, as there were many drug and alcohol addicts with no facility to treat them in Dehra Dun or in the State of Uttarakhand, north India. The original vision was to help drug addicts and alcoholics recover from chemical dependency, to enable them to reintegrate with their families and society, and to share the gospel with them.

manOnBenchPresent activities include offering one-to-one counselling to men and women of all ages and from all socio-economic backgrounds. We do community-based counselling for alcoholics and drug addicts, and for family members. We work in three slums in the city, reaching out to adults and street/slum children in the 8-18 age group. We are now recognised and allowed to conduct counselling and awareness sessions in slums, communities, schools, colleges and government health and police departments. We run a four-month programme for men in a residential treatment facility. People from all backgrounds and from all over India are admitted. We have also had enquiries from Europe. At any given time, one-third of residents are from families who live below the poverty-line. Only about 10-15% of people are in a position to pay the full cost of treatment.

In Uttarakhand State, alcohol is readily available. Almost all villages have illicit breweries and people start experimenting with alcohol when they are 14 or 15 years old. Liquor shops are in all towns and cities and are socially accepted. Cannabis grows naturally and abuse is high. In Dehra Dun, substance abuse is seen in people aged 8-80. Children as young as eight abuse inhalants and solvents. Prescription drug abuse is high. There are no charitable or government-run treatment centres in the state. Our facility is the only treatment centre where clients are not verbally and physically abused, where minimum standards of nutrition are met and where everyone is provided with a bed to sleep in.

To date, around 800 people have been admitted, 1,000 have been counselled and approximately 15,000 people have attended our awareness sessions. Currently, we have nine full-time and three visiting staff.  Awareness sessions are held in schools, and 8 articles about our work have been published in various newspapers. A paramilitary force sends its employees to us for treatment and the state police department has also started referring its personnel to us.

As the number of people coming for treatment gradually increases, we need our own building and campus, as the current campus is rented. We also need more staff, infrastructure, equipment, ambulances and transport vehicles, and a well-equipped pathology and radio-diagnosis laboratory. There is no treatment centre for children in the state, so we would like to begin such a facility. The nearest help for women is 2,000 km away, so this is another need. More community-based activities and awareness programmes throughout the State could be developed, rather than being limited to Dehra Dun city.

Yeshpal is 40 years old and grew up in Delhi. He comes from a middle-class family but was rebellious from childhood. He quit school, started work at 13 and  came into contact with bad practise. He became a three-wheeler driver at 16, earned quite a lot of money and was able to purchase three three-wheelers and build a house. He began to drink alcohol, started using heroin and in his dependency he became aggressive. His business was destroyed, his wife left him, his family disowned him and, through brawling when drunk, ended up in jail. He was brought to us by a Delhi-based evangelist. He has accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour and was baptised in July 2011.

Jitendra is 55 years old and grew up in the neighbouring city of Rishikesh. When young he studied hard and became a bank employee. After work he drank with colleagues. He became depressed, resigned from his bank job, and started working for a private accountancy firm. His depression worsened and he started taking sedatives with alcohol. Before coming to us, he was in psychiatric care. In our care, he slowly healed, started sleeping well without sedatives, and accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He has now been off drugs and alcohol for four years, is working as an accountant and has been able to rebuild his relationship with family members and relatives.

Monish John lives in Mussoorie and studied in a prominent boarding school there. He became the sports teacher but lost his job due to alcoholism. He came to Nijaat in 2009, having been recommended by a family friend. After completing his time with us he rebuilt his relationship with his wife and children, whom he had neglected for a long time. Monish is currently working as manager of a deluxe guest house. He keeps in touch and has sent friends and acquaintances to us for treatment.

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