By Dr.Premkumar Shanmugam; CEO and Clinical Director, Solace Sabah
It has been a while since I last had a chance to sit down and put some thoughts together….
I am thinking of the youth, University students whom I met at SHARP Seminar on October 10 and October 11 at University Malaysia, Sabah. Brilliant and ebullient, you students amazed me with your alacrity and contagious enthusiasm and terrific questions.
I had a paper to present there, on the unique treatment methodology we follow at Solace.
But ‘you’ are not you people alone. There are tens of millions of you in the world, creating a new paradigm, stamping a new cult, giving rise to every trending hashtags, every thriving mass movement, powering and empowering nations as well as ideas; changing, questioning uprooting and uploading: the youth population of the world.
Let me clarify something at the outset, this brooding of mine as what to write is not to be the big Uncle doling out advice and recommendations to you. You do not need that, as much as I do not. That era is over, that age is long past when the elderly enjoyed all the monopoly of information. Now teachers are being taught, leaders are being led and revolutions are giving way to evolutions, courtesy of you.
Since young, we are asked to make choices in life and to live with the consequences. We are faced with options on a daily basis and very often struggle on picking the right ones. Either as a result of not being prepared to face the outcomes or just lack decision making skills. But in case of addiction, a disease, conscious choices do not work.
Hence, I have been asked many times on how to get away from the temptations of addiction, that luring phantom which later on becomes a blood-sucking vampire, taking all the life out of you, but sparing a little, as if it wants you to suffer, with you knowing you are suffering. Terrible! And you can’t do anything about it. Worse!
But there is a way out.
In fact, I have a strategy for that, which I always try to impart when I am posed that question: how to stay sober, forever?
Let me continue:
When you are involved in a task, when you pour your soul into it, nobody can extricate you from it. Nothing would distract you. But this will not happen, always. That is why we need to implant some pulls and triggers, imbue certain actions on external impulses, on something else, so that, it can go on and on and on.
[That is why we have workplaces, we have systems and structures in the world to ensure compliance and meeting of objectives.]
I will explain: imagine you are a social worker working for the poor and the needy. You have a professional and a personal life. You love serving the poor and helping those people in misery as much as you love vacationing with your family.
Now, imagine you had to cancel a vacation of yours which you had scheduled and planned, because of some professional exigencies. You will show up for your work, but with reluctance. You will be sullen, you will feel bad, and you will be demotivated. But the moment you see a child in misery, perhaps holding a begging bowl and teary eyed, with no power left in him or her to cry, you will forget everything else. You will swing into spirited action. You will march, you will charge and you will do whatever it takes to help alleviate the misery of that child: and there are hundreds of such children. Would you think of the vacationing, then?
This is a very generic example. Simplified and altered to suit a narration. But it does serve the essentials to you.
In addiction treatment, apart from getting on the path to recovery, it is hyper essential to stay on that path.
You should involve yourself in the community and the loved ones and help those people in addiction. Exhort them, nudge them, urge them, argue with them, coerce them and then discover for yourself how it changes you! Be the change, is as important as being the change, every minute and second of it. That is the path.
When you start to speak, to try and dissuade that person who is holding the cigarette or a bottle of spirit, be spirited enough to sound your concern and hear the echo coming back to you in exhortation. In other words, when you do this, you yourself are building the citadels of a fort which cannot be torn down by any temptation, whatsoever. This is the key to stay sober: help others to stay sober.
When you set the programme of life, kindness and compassions should boost you ahead. Help and be helped!
At Solace, we follow this philosophy. At Solace Academy, we try to impart it.