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This Odisha youth defeats drugs, launches mission to give addicts new life

Express News Service

SAMBALPUR: Eight years back when a group of friends introduced Prateek Bhoi to drugs, he had no idea that substance abuse could ruin the precious formative years of his life.

He was just 12 then. Today, Prateek has not only managed to get over the addiction but is also on a mission to help others to give up drugs.

“Only somebody who has been there would understand what one goes through and what kind of care is needed”, said the 20-year-old who is now managing the de-addiction and rehabilitation centre where he himself was an inmate three years back. 

It started out of curiosity, said Prateek.

“I just wanted to know how intoxication feels. But I began enjoying it”, he said.

Consumption of drugs continued for three years till his parents came to know about it. But by then, he had become aggressive and remained isolated in his room.

He managed to complete his Class 10 after which his parents sent him to a boarding school, hoping it would change him. But that did not happen. 

His addiction to drugs was worsening and it affected his education and health.

“I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling breathless”, he recalled. Helpless, his parents then decided to admit him to Sudhar De-addiction and Rehabilitation Centre which was started in Sambalpur in 2016.

He was enrolled into a 3-month de-addiction programme, which proved to be the turning point of his life. 

The centre was then run by a Bhubaneswar-based NGO and Prateek’s mentor there helped him with emotional support.

“It was difficult for me to accept the fact that drugs had ruined so many precious years of my life that I could have utilised building my career. My mentor helped me a lot in recovering. With his guidance, I started feeling that I can give up this addiction”, said Prateek who began showing positive results with proper counselling.

Though inmates are not allowed to leave the programme in-between, looking at his progress and on the recommendation of his mentor, Prateek was discharged from the centre by the end of first month.

Soon, he resumed his education and completed Plus II from a local college.

To ensure that he does not slip into addiction again, his mentor insisted him to continue visiting the rehabilitation centre for volunteering and Prateek readily accepted the offer.

After his Plus II, Prateek decided to take a break and spend a substantial part of the day at the centre to help others.  

Eventually, he got an opportunity to take over ‘Sudhar’ last year. Prateek opened an NGO ‘Vikash Foundation’ and took over the rehabilitation centre in September last year.

He started managing the de-addiction centre with 17 inmates.

Today, 40 inmates have already been de-addicted and discharged while there are 22 more currently enrolled in the centre. Prateek claims that he has achieved a success rate of 30 to 35 per cent during the period.

He said more than medical help, an addict needs psychological support to overcome his habits. Since they are alienated by their family and society, they crave for care and attention which they get at the centre. 

“It is difficult during the initial withdrawal period but one can overcome it if he or she is determined”, said Prateek who has a team of four persons to attend to the inmates.

The youths who recover from addiction also chip in by counselling inmates.

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