By Tenzin Monlam
Nora Staffannel, psychotherapist, speaks during the one-day workshop on 'Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention' at Yongling School on October 18, 2017. Phayul photo.
DHARAMSHALA, October 18: Minimal acceptance of drug abuse as a societal problem and the lack of collective effort to help those with addiction can become a major problem for the community, said Kunphen Center Director Dawa Tsering at the one-day workshop on ‘Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention’ at Yongling School today.
“Instead of considering it as an illness, which needs to be resolved collectively, our society blames it on the individual for bringing it upon himself”, said Dawa Tsering at the event attended by 20 participants including counselors, nurses and representatives of Tibetan schools, institutions and nunneries.
Nora Staffannel, New York-based Psychotherapist, headed the workshop. According to her one of the major reasons for people turning to drugs is ‘unhappiness’.
Describing the dependency on drugs as a result of searching for ‘quick fix’ to the unhappiness, Nora said that the society must have kinder approach. “Seeing them as criminal or weak or bad does not help them to recover. If we can help them resume meaningful lives in the community, then there will be fewer addicts. But as long as they are isolated and stigmatized they are not going to get better,” she said.
The psychotherapist with over 25 years of experience in the profession said that the addiction is combination of disease and behavior. She describes addiction as ‘bad learning’.
“People with addiction have learned that the only thing that makes them happy is drugs. So it is like learning disorder,” Nora said, adding that we must not consider ‘once an addict, always an addict’ as it is curable.
Kalsang Tsewang, Counselor of Lower TCV said that cases of students consuming alcohol and cigarettes have been on the rise and the traditional method of punishing and warning are proving less effective.
“As per my own experience, approaching them kindly is proving to be more effective and as a proof I have two students who have shown improvements,” the counselor said.
Kunphen, a Tibetan NGO dealing with substance abuse and HIV/AIDS, today announced that the rehabilitation center of the organization situated in Khanyara, near Dharamshala, is nearing completion.
As of today, there are 45 Tibetans in rehabs with coordination and care from the Department of Health of Central Tibetan Administration.