Pakistani Catholics lead the fight against drug addiction
by Margaret Piara
The NGO Milap has launched a series of projects to help drug addicts overcome their addiction; the latter are often rejected by their families and thrown out of their homes. Such projects include free medical care and meetings to help patients beat their addiction.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – “My friends were taking drugs and so I also started. They were always telling me just to take it, and nothing would happen. So I got use to it. I have three children now and feel bad about it but I don’t know how to quit,” said James Masih in a tale similar to that of countless others who, whether out of despair or as a game, imitated close friends or relatives and learnt how to take drugs.

Although their journey to recovery is slow and arduous, they can count on the material support of Caritas Pakistan and its charitable organisation which provide free medical assistance and are hard at work to beat addiction.

Last Monday Milap, a Lahore-based NGO, brought together a group of about 50 drug addicts and their families for a day of awareness for the drug addicted.

The issue was discussed at a round table, with participants comparing respective experiences and trying to find ways to recovery.

“I have two brothers who take drugs, 58 and 50 respectively, unmarried,” said Shamim Mushtaq. “The younger one was even thrown out of the house because he was stealing things to get the money to buy drugs.”

She ended her address by stressing the sense of fatigue and impotence she experiences in her circumstances. “Unfortunately, we are not rich and rehab centres are expensive,” she said.

Poverty and despair are some of the factors that push people to take drugs, whatever they may be. Caritas Pakistan has set up a rehab centre in Yuhannadab, a suburb of Lahore, in addition to providing free medical assistance for the poor and those most in distress.

This is a huge effort according to Milap administrators because “drug addicts are left to their own fate” and families often “refuse to provide help.”

Milap’s rehab programme has two goals. One is to get families to accept that their loved ones have a drug problem. And for this reason on special occasions like Easter and Christmas the NGO provides food so that families can be together during the festivity. The other is to get addicts to gradually accept rehab and be weaned away from drugs once and for all.