This is my first article for the magazine on a topic –addiction- that I am extremely passionate about.

I have been in the field of addiction counselling for about twenty five years. Most of my knowledge on the subject came from personal experience in my family, attending support groups and from reading extensively on the subject and not from my medical school training. Addiction is defined as a chronic disease like diabetes but treatment for addiction is completely different from all other medical conditions because there is no medication to stop the addiction. The disease is characterised by a series of unpredictable relapses and remissions.

Addiction can either be physical (gambling, excessive gymming, watching porn all the time) or chemical, like alcohol, amphetamines, opioids (heroin, codeine) cannabis and mandrax. The question often asked by people is: why do people use drugs when they know that it can cause so much of harm to them? Unfortunately, when people are introduced to drugs, the thought of its dangers never cross their mind. People often use the drugs for the first time just to experience its effects but and once they experience the euphoric or the mood altering effect, the seeds of addiction are sown with the first drug.

The euphoric effect of the addicting substance serves as a noose around the neck of the individuals using a substance. The effect is so overwhelming, that an individual’s will power is no match for the powerful effects of the substance. The individual eventually becomes a slave to his/her addiction and nothing else matters. Once the addiction sets in, the life of addicts revolves entirely around their addictive substance. Nothing, really matters to them; their families, jobs and their physical wellbeing are of secondary importance to them. They will even kill for their fix.

Addiction is not a choice but a consequence of a bad choice. Most addicts try desperately to come off their drugs but the craving gets the better of them all the time. Getting into drugs is easy; recovery, on the other hand, is tough but not impossible. The first step to recovery is to for addicts to admit that they have a problem and to seek help for their recovery by attending out-patient centres, support groups and in-patient facilities.

Over ninety per cent of the work in recovery has to be done by the individual. Family support and rehabs play a small but important role to initiate the process of recovery. Addicts, who relapse, cannot blame the programme but themselves for not practicing the principles of recovery on a daily basis. There isn’t a one-size fits all solution for recovery.

One of the cardinal principles for recovery is to avoid people, places and things associated with addiction at all costs. This is a non-negotiable. Recovery is not just about quitting but about changing one’s behaviour and faulty perceptions about reality. This is a life long journey of learning and is worth all the effort invested in it. Finally, addiction is a family illness, so everyone should seek help, not just the addict.

My simple self-help booklet on addiction, “4-Steps to Healing” is available on my website, so please visit: