During the pandemic, the lockdown and the economic turmoil that it brought, the evils that were before it still prevail. Substance abuse and addiction is something that has been plaguing the state of Sikkim for a long time.

People who care about those who have been struggling on the wrong side of the spectrum, the abusers and the addicts, have started many initiatives to recognise and help them. In these trying times, these souls are still up at their jobs of helping transform countless lives for the better. One such establishment is Center for Addiction Medicine (CAM) cum Drug Treatment Clinic at Sawney, Chuwatar in Singtam, East Sikkim.

Picture Source: Dr. Rasaily, CAM

According to Dr Satish Rasaily, Addiction Medicine Specialist and Nodal Officer, CAM, the de-addiction & rehabilitation treatment comprise of phases in which, in the first phase there is detoxification, physical rehabilitation and psychosocial rehabilitation. After that in the second phase, there is the counselling of the patients. After counselling, the next phase involves patient engagement by developing various activities is one of the challenges for the staffs and doctors in drug de-addiction centre.

“We are planning to do a comprehensive drug de-addiction service, which consists of the first phase of medical management that is detoxification of the patients. In this phase we do medical assessments, psychical assessments, psychiatric assessments, socio-economic assessments as well, to identify the root problems of the patients. We assess all these so we can formulate the treatments,” says Dr. Rasaily.

“The second phase involves counselling of the patients. To do the counselling, the patient has to be mentally, physically, socially, and psychologically ready and receptive. Counselling isn’t just about giving advice and suggestions, it is actually to recognise what the patient is being troubled with to chose the path of self-destruction”.

organic farming
Picture Source: Dr. Rasaily, CAM

Further, he adds, “after this, to develop options and strategies, as a therapist it is my job to sit together with the patient to identify the roots of his or her problems and we do that.”

Organic farming is not only developing skills but working as a confidence-building exercise: Rasaily

CAM, which houses 22 beds for patients of which each of them is occupied at the moment, has developed a structured programme consisting of physical exercises, morning walks, laughing therapy, educational session by nursing staffs, experiential sharing & role play, gardening & organic farming, daily meditation sessions, classes on drug addictions, motivational programs, and sports activities (volleyball), for the third phase in which a plan is strategized for the addicts to recover and get back to the real world.

“After the first and the second phase, it is important to strategize on how to give the patient a routine for day-to-day life. It is to build a purpose in the patient’s life because having a purpose is a driving factor for a functioning individual. Until and unless there is a purpose for the individual, they keep being vulnerable to relapsing,” Dr. Rasaily says.

“We wanted to keep a holistic approach to our treatment, not just being bound by the medical management of the patients. So we thought, why not develop their skills? So we came up with gardening and farming, which can work as amazing, anti-depressing activities,” he adds.

The establishment has developed an organic farming activity to engage patients undergoing drug de-addiction treatment in skill and confidence-building activities as part of their rehabilitation programme. According to Dr. Rasaily, these activities not only develop skills but help the patients come out of their dissociated and disconnected phases of life that lead them to spiral down this part, to begin with.

Picture Source: Dr. Rasaily, CAM

The farming activity is done in a controlled area in the premises of the establishments where Mustard Greens, Radish, Cucumbers, Coriander, Spinach etc., are grown and then eaten by the establishment.

“We are in the first phases of this activity, which is working out well. After 3 days of detoxification that we manage, the patients develop proactive behaviour and we engage them in the treatment,” says Dr. Rasaily.

“We want the people to come and then get treated in which they experience a routine in a civilian life apart from medication. This helps to keep them in an experience of the civilian routine. Our youngsters enjoy these activities and the old aged people do too, so this is positive,” he adds.

Read more related articles:

Sikkim’s drug crisis, a societal problem

Jorethang’s civil society starts patrolling & monitoring campaign against drug abuse

Need for the government to reboot its approach towards drug menace

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