The road to recovery

Many recovered addicts relapse due to the lack of Aftercare Service

Usha Drukpa,  Thimphu


At the time when Bhutan is confronting with increasing number of substance and alcohol abusers, it has become very important to establish Aftercare Service Units for the addicts to refrain from relapses.

Currently, there are only two rehabilitation centres in the country to treat the addicts. Many of the addicts who have recovered from the two centers had relapsed due to the lack of aftercare services.

Explaining about the importance of this service, the Counselor of Chithuen Phendey Association (CPA), Dechen Tshering, said when an addict comes out of the rehab centers, he/she will not be 100 percent recovered.

“Recovering from addiction is a long process, and it will become easier to recover if addicts get engaged in other meaningful activities,” he said.

At the moment, he said that CPA is holding regular meetings by the addicts to keep them engaged. “We bring them together and make them engage in meaningful discussions. Sometimes they share their stories and encourage each other to never go back to their old habits,” said the Counselor.

“However, these meetings are not very effective because many addicts hardly turn-up once they leave the rehab centers. Maybe it is because some of them stay in different places, away from Thimphu or rehab centers,” he added.

Tashi Gyeltshen of Serbithang Rehabilitation Centre said that they are planning to establish a aftercare service setup. “We are planning to come up with a vocational training centre to impart some skills so that the recovered addicts get jobs and forget about their past,” he said.

“When they are rendered jobless and confronts difficulty to lead their normal lives after recovering, they drink or abuse drugs again,” said Tashi Gyeltshen.

He mentioned that at the moment, they are providing training on tailoring and making souvenirs.

“Further, in order to prevent them from relapses, we call for meetings regularly and keep them engaged,” said Tashi Gyeltshen.

The Programme Officer of Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority, Karma Tenzin, said there is a need for establishment of aftercare services. “In the absence of this service I think the chances of relapses among addicts are very high,” he said.

Bhum Dhoj Ghalley, the client coordinator of Care Bhutan said that he is one of the those addicts who got drowned into drugs for more than 19 years and as a result, he had spent half of his life in prison.

“What happens once we get out of rehab is that the people look down at us. We come out with very low self-esteem and when society looks at us with the hint of rejection, we become morally defeated. And that is when we get indulged in our old habits,” said Bhum Dhoj Ghalley.

“Aftercare service will help the recovered addicts to face any sort of challenges including our own emotions and feelings,” he added.

He mentioned that Care Bhutan has already introduced providing AfterCare Service to the recovering addicts. He said they are focusing more on personal recovering such as attending Self Heath Group (SHG) that primarily looks to educate the addicts on social circles.

Meanwhile CARE Bhutan is a social enterprise initiated by a group of youth looking to provide aftercare service and social re-integration.

CARE Bhutan has more than 20 recovering addicts. At CPA, there are 19 people recovering from drug addict with their ages ranging from 16 to 54 and at Serbithang Rehabilitation Centre,

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