Many are successfully recovering and five of them have chosen to help others achieve success

The road to recovery can be a daunting challenge for many who want to turn over a new leaf. The journey is a constant battle between relapse and staying clean.

Addiction is a complex disease and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Recovering addict, Bhup Dhoj Ghalley, said that the journey is punishing but not impossible.

Imagine living in an alien body with the neighbourhood judging you every time. Besides the physical torture a recovering addict goes through, the mental trauma is almost unbearable.

After living with drugs for a long period of time, when the body is suddenly deprived of its daily dosage, an inertia sets in the mind and the body of the individual. “You feel that you are living in a whole new body. This is the time when you try to rediscover yourself. If you give up to your cravings, you lose the fight against drugs,” said Bhup Dhoj.

Today the 38-year-old has been clean for almost nine years. Bhup Dhoj said that he still gets the urge to reuse drugs and alcohol. “Three-fourth of the time during my recovery, I had the urge to use. The first few months are the toughest time during recovery. You get this instant urge of reusing and the feeling is overwhelming.”

There are many who lose their fight against drugs and once again fall into the pits of addiction. “It is very difficult to quit once you are addicted because against all the drawbacks of drugs and alcohol, an addict would still consider it to be a boon,” he said.

However, there are many success stories in the field of recovery among the once chronic addicts. A few of the recovering addicts now have a stable job and are pursuing a healthy life.

Bhup Dhoj who is a freelance counsellor and a member of a self-help group has started an after-care centre for recovering addicts struggling to stay clean. He said that the country today lacks an after-care centre for those recovering addicts who come out of rehabilitation centres.

“Aftercare is crucial for any recovering addicts in order to reintegrate him or her into the society as a normal individual,” he said. “There is a high risk of relapse if one doesn’t get the support during this period.”

Located at the heart of the Centenary Park in Thimphu, the Care Bhutan Cafeteria is run a group of five recovering addicts. The group caters to the public visiting the park all week with their delightful snacks and tea. One of the individual is also engaged in the cleaning the surrounding.

Recovering addicts can register with the café that serves as an aftercare centre. Bhup Dhoj said that the four individuals are paid for their labour and are constantly engaged, thereby leaving no room for the urge of reusing to set in.

Through the centre, he said, the group can introduce individuals to the various vacancies based on their qualification and talents. Reintegration programmes such as training and workshops will also be provided through the centre.

“We also introduce them to recovery community where they can meet people with similar issues and learn from each other,” said Bhup Dhoj. “Helping my recovering colleagues helps me stay clean for one more day. This is the passion I have found in the recovery journey and it has been very fruitful.”

However, the stigma attached with addicts in the society is one of the biggest challenges they are currently facing. “We are no saints. We have committed mistakes during our addiction period and we are guilty for the rest of our lives,” he said. “We have defects but we are trying to change. We are sick and we can do better in life if we are supported at this difficult period in our lives.”

Younten Tshedup