Ramazan- A Therapeutic Process of De-Addiction

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No one becomes addicted intentionally. Substance abuse and addiction is not a goal one sets out to accomplish. Many Psychological, social and biological factors play their role in substance abuse and dependence.  Addiction also can be understood as the triumph of the bad self within us on our good self or the triumph of the soul commanding to evil over the self reproaching soul. What begins as just one puff of cigarette, one sip of alcohol, one snort of cocaine, one injection of heroin, ultimately develops into complete physical and psychological dependence on such substances. 

Allah says in Quran “O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, (sacrificing on) stone alters (to other than Allah), and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful (5:90, Surat Al-M?’idah)”. 

Despite the religious prohibitions, social taboos and health consequences millions of people each year still fall prey to drug addiction. The available statistics on nature and extent of drug abuse across the world show a grim picture. According to world drug report 2014, around 243 million individuals, or 5 per cent of the world’s population aged 15-64 used an illicit drug in 2012.

With a political disturbance and armed conflict of more than two decades the scenario of drug abuse in Kashmir is not any different. Though comprehensive surveys on the extent of drug abuse in Kashmir are not available but there are some studies which show a grim picture of drug abuse in the valley. Further in my first hand experience as a psychologist in Police drug de-addiction services Baramulla and PCR Srinagar  and during my M.Phil research on drug addiction, I found a significant drug addict population in Kashmir, some turning to de-addiction however a significant proportion continuing with their drug abuse.

 Although detoxification and psychological therapies are there to help drug addicts to get out of this mess, but I found during my work experience that one of hurdle in their quitting of drug abuse was not being able to begin with. Many drug abusers find it difficult to start abstinence, to begin with the de-addiction process, to fix a day of quitting and finding the right environment of abstinence. However, the holy month of Ramazan provides a great and ideal opportunity to amend many bad habits including smoking and drug abuse and also it is the best time to regulate other habits like heavy tea/coffee usage /pan chewing etc.

Although fasting in this month for Muslims is a religious obligation. But this is also a month for physical detoxification and spiritual purification. Anyone can observe a little self discipline in this month and have at least the physical detoxification effect there by getting rid of most of the modern day illnesses. Almost all medical systems in the world acknowledge the therapeutic benefits of fasting. 

Fasting (‘soum’) is not just an abstinence from food and drinks. The word soum in Arabic roughly means discipline. So this month is a period of complete physical, mental and spiritual discipline. During Ramazan besides abstaining from food and drinks one need to stay away from all intoxicating things, control one’s emotions, avoid using false words, lies and swearing and also excess of sex. 

Clearly drug abuse and other bad habits may reflect a weak self control and a lack of self discipline and will. Ramazan is the month to enhance one’s self control, develop self discipline and strengthen ones will. The five daily prayers and the fasting during the holy month of Ramazan are especially beneficial in disciplining the self and developing control. The Glorious Quran says; “Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do.” (Al Quran 29:45)

Fasting is universally recognized as a means of gaining self control, and in Islam, also a means of gaining closeness to ALLAH. ALLAH says in Glorious Quran “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self restraint,” [Al Quran 2:183]. Prayer and fasting are therefore like the shields of the human soul, by which it can protect itself from the onslaughts of modern temptations, and lead a healthy, balanced and productive life.

Ramazan besides prohibiting the intake of food and drinks frown dawn to dusk also prescribes a practical ways of for de-addiction. The experience and high of Divine Remembrance becomes much sweater and greater than the experience and hallow high of drug abuse and then the subsequent shame and guilt of it. 

 As it is said a drowning man will clutch at a straw, Ramazan clearly provides a big opportunity to all those smokers and drug abusers who wish to come out of this swamp once and for all. Opportunities don’t knock at the doors every time, people wishing to live a drug free life need to cash it.

Author has an M.Phil in Psychology and was formerly a Psychologist at Police Drug De-Addiction Centre. He can be reached at: 

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