Leaving behind the hunger for drugs and the path of crime to make money for drugs, Raj Kumar has chosen to live a life of soberness. The 48-year-old is now guiding others on quitting drugs. Kumar’s first experience with heroin was at the tender age of 16. Gradually, he developed an insatiable craving for drugs that he resorted to petty crimes like snatching, mugging and theft to keep the ball rolling.
Soon, he had 52 cases registered against him at various police stations of Delhi, and he was even declared an outcast from the NCR.
Kumar, who is counselling patients at Nasha Mukti Kendra run by Uttarakhand Foundation at Sector 62 in Noida, for past one year, said, “My day used to start with smack, I started bodybuilding and made a good physique. People felt scared in my presence. I thought that was respect, but I was mistaken. I was actually like the trash that people avoid while walking on the street.”
“People around me pulled me out of the sea of crime. Now it is my responsibility to do the same for others in need. In my opinion, family and surroundings play an important role in an addict's life,” Kumar said.
The patient-turned-counsellor, at the centre Kumar, who is basically from Delhi, is married and has three children, who reside in the city with their uncle.
“I go and meet my family once a week, just for half an hour. When I look at my children, I regret that I was never there for them during their growing years.
But still they are very supportive and nice to me,” said Kumar, who quit the habit of drugs in 2011.
Currently, 36 people have enrolled at the kendra for drug rehabilitation. With a tight schedule of waking up at five in the morning, the patients at the centre have an entire chart of activities scheduled for the day. They have to practice yoga, meditation and undergo therapy. They even clean their rooms. They are given tasks and asked to write and explain what they think about drugs.
Most members of the druggie gang, with whom Kumar used to work, have died following chronic illnesses, leaving kids and family behind.
“Of the 25-member gang, only four are alive. If I had not gotten the right direction at the right time, I would also have been in the same place. God is gracious,” he said.