Ready to quit
Rizwana Naqvi takes a look at rehab facilities for the rich and poor
The New Horizon Care Centre (NHCC) established in 2001 by Naveed Younus provides treatment to about 2,000 patients annually; the centre is run almost entirely on donations and zakat, and houses 300-350 patients at a time in three of its centres, one of which is in the Central Jail Karachi. Unfortunately, Naveed was killed by the drug mafia and now the set-up is managed by his brother Sohail Younus who has taken it up as a mission.
After treatment there is always a risk of relapse as the patient goes back into society, with the same friends and triggering elements with whom the person had resorted to drugs to ward off depression or find solace from the everyday stresses of life.
“After discharge the patient has to report to one of the 15 booths or outreach centres daily to report on his condition; if there are signs of relapse he is again put in rehab. It also allows him to be part of a self-help or recovery group and receive counselling,” says Younus.
Once a person has become addicted to cocaine, ecstasy or, as they say, ‘lighter stuff’, he needs to seek help, go through therapy, medication, exercise and other treatments to successfully recover.
Drug addiction treatment is not a quick and easy process. Recovery from addiction is a long process that requires time, commitment, motivation, and support. In fact, treatment depends on the duration and intensity of the drug use. There’s no single treatment appropriate for everyone; treatment regimen varies from patient to patient, and is customised to suit the patient’s problems and situation.
While some patients can be managed at home, others have to be hospitalised, the duration of which lasts from one to three months but can extend further, depending on the patients’ condition and family environment. After discharge from the centre the patient is put on follow-up; regardless of the treatment programme’s length, long-term follow-up is crucial to recovery.
“Follow-up also ensures that the patient does not go into a relapse,” says Dr Sania Asif, clinical psychologist at Willing Ways.
Counselling, not only of the patient but of the family as well, is another important ingredient of treatment; having the support of friends and family members is invaluable for recovery. Dr Sania Asif, explains, “it is the family that has to look after the patient once he goes back home, so their counselling is important for support”.
At Willing Ways, a patient is given follow-up for two years during which if any signs of relapse are noticed, further treatment is provided. The institution has been providing help in cases of drug addiction and alcoholism for over 30 years, and houses about 12 to 14 indoor patients at a time at each of its centres in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Murree. But that is for those who can afford to pay.
The vast number of patients belonging to the lower social strata of society who cannot afford costly detoxification and rehabilitation facilities opt for institutions run by NGOs and philanthropists, such as Edhi centre in Nooriabad and NHCC, where even a man from the street can get the required treatment, if he has the will or if somebody takes him there.
At the Edhi centre even a destitute, picked up from the street is given the same care as a person from a well-to-do family. But the NHCC now only takes “patients who are brought in by their family as the whole family is affected and one person’s treatment provides relief to the entire family,” says Sohail Younus, director of NHCC.
Some centres include personal grooming as part of their therapy, while in others, such as Edhi centre, patients are made to work during in-patient treatment. This serves two purposes: one, it keeps the patient busy and hence distracted, and two, the person learns some skill that he can put to use once he has recovered and goes back home. This comes in handy in case of patients who were unemployed and unskilled — both can drive a person to substance abuse.
The NHCC even arranges employment for the recovered patients. “We are able to do this because we have contacts in the business community. We also try to provide means for self-employment by arranging a rickshaw or pushcart for them to enable them to earn a living,” says Younus.