THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Johnson K Mangalam does not conform to norms. So is his brainchild ‘Punarjani- De-addiction Centre’. In stark contradiction to most de-addiction centres prevalent in the state, this organisation at Poomala in Thrissur does not ask alcoholics to quit drinking. Rather, they may dole out a peg or two to the patients if they crave for their daily dose after dinner.
Johnson, a former alcoholic himself, insists there is no better method than this to make alcoholics quit drinking.
“Alcoholism is a disease just like cancer or a fever. But unlike these diseases, it is incurable. Until and unless an alcoholic himself decides to quit, one cannot help him much. As I myself was one, I know they are egotistic and adamant. Chaining them or forcing them to quit would only make them run towards alcohol more frequently. So here we don’t even have separate rooms for the patients,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the patients who show withdrawal symptoms during the first stages of their treatment would be served with small portions of alcohol. Once they are in an inebriated state, their behaviours will be recorded for further examination.
“More than the alcoholics, the family (either wife or parent) needs treatment. Hence, we show them videos of different cases and ask them to behave in a particular way to the patient. Most often they would react the same way as the patient which would lead to more damage,” Johnson said.
Hena, wife of a former patient of the centre agrees. “Even though the videos are not our own, we can instantly connect with them. We have gone through such instances many times,” she said. At first she was apprehensive about the centre, but today she thanks the centre for giving her family a new life. Hena whimpers had it not for Johnson and ‘Punarjani’, life would have been miserable for them.
There are no medicines or counsellings conducted for the patients at Punarjani. Johnson prefers to share his thoughts and stories using the colloquial language of alcoholics. “Had they put me in a room and asked me not to touch alcohol from then onwards I would have run out of the place. But Johnson’s method struck a chord with me. On the third day, after admission, I didn’t feel like having a drink. This was the effect of the treatment. Surprisingly, there was no treatment to name,” says a government employee, who was a former patient.