A high of a different kind

Once an addict, he is now taking hundreds of youth out of addictions

I was once an addict, consuming alcohol and other forms of addiction throughout the day. Late night parties were my favorite zone, and people would find me in an inebriated state anytime, anywhere. People would not believe that I had a day job as a professor at a respectable college. I realized I had to get out of this vicious cycle. My family members took me to different de-addiction centers, but nothing worked.

Then, I happened to attend an Art of Living workshops. For the first time, I felt confident about the possibility of leaving my addictions, and I eventually did. I was so inspired by the Art of Living’s approach that I resolved to de-addict youth and help get them a respectable place in the society. Until now, I have reached out to more than ten thousand youth in Marathwada region of Maharashtra, and about 75% of them have been de-addicted.

Our approach works because we work on all aspects of an addicted youth - the mind, the body and their social position. Meditation gets them in touch with their inner selves, with a joy that is more intense than the one you experience through alcohol or drugs. It empowers them with self-confidence, something which they lose because of the attitude of society towards them.

The next step is to urge them to work for the society and offering them suitable opportunities to do the same. Serving the society sparks a profound change in these youth. Their mindset and personality undergo a 360-degree shift. I have seen youth from our programs working for the revival of rivers, empowering farmers with natural farming techniques, and much more. It is amazing to see youth who were earlier unconcerned about themselves developing so much concern for the society. It seems like serving the society, and meditating have become their new high. When the people who spurned them for their addiction see them work for society, their attitude towards them also changes.

Youth have tremendous power to change the destiny of the nation. Redeeming them from addiction is very important. But we all need to work together for this. We need to stop looking at them through judgmental eyes. They don’t need that. They just need the right tools and opportunities to overcome addiction. And if we can give them that, they can do wonders!

Written by Vanditaa Kothari

Dr. Purshottam Wayal, YLTP teacher