An Antidote For Addiction: Workshop On Substance Abuse And Its Prevention
On 28 August 2019, the Student Counselling Services in association with TEQIP-III conducted a workshop on prevention of drug abuse with Mr. Prabhu Dutta Patel as the speaker, an expert in this field. Mr. Patel who was an addict himself at his youth has turned his life around in such a manner that he set out helping people who are in the same sinking ship as his once. He has helped numerous addicts till date and is continuing his social services. The auditorium was filled with the freshmen students along with other enthusiasts. The event was graced by the presence of the honourable director Prof. Animesh Biswas, Prof. S.K Patel, and others dignitaries. After a brief introduction about the workshop and a speech by the dignitaries, the workshop set off.
Mr. Patel started with a general introduction of himself and what he had been doing in the past. He then explained how people start using alcohol or cigarettes or any narcotic substances and guided the students on how not to give in to such pressures from peers or anyone. He narrated his experience on how he started getting addicted to cigarettes and alcohol and lost 15 years of his life because of the addiction. The workshop continued with an interactive session among Mr. Patel and the students where they discussed how to check and control the use of such substances like alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, etc with keeping in mind the various models that have been followed across the world like Canada, Netherland, etc. Initially, the freshers were reluctant to actively participate in the discussion, but as time passed, the participation grew drastically. Various views of the students were put forward and were answered with suave by Mr. Patel. As the session progressed, many tactics and examples were used by the host to make sure that the students stay away from all such habits. The event went on till 12 PM and was cut short to accommodate the student's classes.
Monday Morning caught up with Prabhu Dutt Patel and below is a conversation between Team MM and Mr. Patel
MM: What made you fall into the trap of substance abuse and how it became a habit?
Prabhu Dutt: I believe that fear is an engine that drives an alcoholic. It is a default setting for an alcoholic, whether it is related to emotions, success or failures.so to overcome that I started drinking alcohol, there was no peer pressure, everyone was doing it, so it was cool and I loved it. It emboldened me which is altogether a different feeling and I relished it. Whenever I drank the substantial amount of alcohol, I love what it did to me, it gave me a sense of confidence and did the same that water does for fish and that's how it became a habit.
MM: What exactly drove you into taking up a mission of helping drug addicts and alcoholics?
Prabhu Dutt: Agony goes hand in hand with rehabilitation. I believe that was my second chance or sort of rebirth. I have been sober for the last 22 years. My memories are serving as motivation for me to help someone who is going through that. I can perceive the pain, hopelessness of an alcoholic and can relate to their mental and physical state. In my walkthrough, I wanted to give them a beacon of hope to get out of this hell.
MM: What are the main reasons behind the increase in the number of substance abuse among youth?
Prabhu Dutt: Adolescence gets accompanied by the risk of alcohol abuse. Peer pressure and exposure to drug-related marketing activities are predisposing factors for adolescents to initiate drug abuse. Easy accessibility of substances is also a risk factor for the onset of substance abuse in adolescence. And the factors like family pressure, getting away from moral and cultural values, stress and pressure indeed help in fostering the youth to get indulge in these activities.
MM: How were your days in the US while pursuing LLM?
Prabhu Dutt: By the time I reached the US, my addiction towards alcohol was altogether at a different level. I could barely function without alcohol, as a result of which I stopped going to law school and stopped appearing for exams. Other things were also happening around this time. I was financially and morally bankrupt and moreover, my, both physical and mental health was deteriorating. I didn't know what to do, I didn't know where to go. I cried to God "ya toh aar kar ya paar kar", as I was not able to take this agony more, somewhere my cry reached to god and things started happening on their own and since then I have never drunk alcohol in my life.
MM: How did you come across Purvasha and Samarpan (NGOs)?
Prabhu Dutt: I came back to India in Jan 2002 as my father was ailing. He passed away after nine months. At that point in time, practising law didn't appear to be a fruitful option. So I started spending a lot of time with alcoholics and addicts in Bhubaneswar. I joined an NGO as a counsellor in 2003. There I got access to a lot of training and my own capability buildings. Eventually, I started my organization called Purvasha and started running a rehab called Samarphan. We have several successes to our credit and it's heartening to see addicts get back to their normal life. Somewhere down the line making money took a backseat. Working with addicts and alcoholics ensured my sobriety and provided a deep sense of satisfaction.
MM: What message would you like to give to the MM readers?
I would say that life is too beautiful and it's a one-time shot. Even if you believe in this reincarnation process, you don't need alcohol or drugs to magnify or amplify your pleasures. It is too much of a risk that you take. In the end, it will only down your senses and take you away from the process of life as it is meant to be lived.
Team MM congratulates SCS and TEQIP-III for conducting a prolific workshop and was delighted to have Mr. Patel with us and wish him all the best for his future endeavours